December 13, 2012
It is the time of year where dedicated programs continue to push in their marketing efforts. They know the long-term value of investing in branding and they avoid the trap of easing up when things get challenging. For the programs who continue to push, here is an entry that is developed specifically for you. This was inspired by the marketing presentations that our graduate program just created for NCAA programs in the surrounding area. They were outstanding and I came out of the presentations with some clear insights for programs looking to differentiate in their marketing efforts. So, here are four tips to take your branding to another level.
1. Don’t be afraid to be different: The first step in marketing is often to get a feel for the landscape in your field. As a starting point, you look around to see what other programs who have realized success are doing and you try to incorporate them into your marketing repertoire. And as you get comfortable with the concept of marketing, you might even attempt to put a tiny touch of your own personal touch into ideas to make them unique. It is safe to say that this is the level that many programs get to in their marketing. However, it is important to note that there is a level that goes well beyond this for the individuals and programs who are willing to take calculated risks in their branding efforts. For the folks who make a commitment to being great, there is an opportunity to truly differentiate your program if you are willing to be different. This often means trying new ideas that have the potential to be highly entertaining to your key target markets. So, as you advance in your marketing, shoot for a unique product and live by the mantra of “striving to be different” on a daily basis.
2. Fully embrace all aspects of brand in daily initiatives: The best programs in marketing know what their brand is all about. They take the time to outline their brand mantra and the values that surround their daily actions. Call this an essential foundation for programs who want to be successful in marketing. For the individuals who want to set a standard of excellence, take it a step beyond this and make sure these elements show up in all aspects of your marketing. If academics are important, then make sure they show up in your most valued marketing messages (e.g., themed graphics and videos). This modeling will reinforce the things that are most important to your program. When done consistently, these are the messages that will be heard loud and clear from your administrators, student-athletes, fans, and potential recruits. It is absolutely a concept that will take your program to another level when you get it right on a consistent basis.
3. Strive to show student-athlete personalities: One of the most effective things you can do in marketing sport programs is allowing consumers to get to know your student-athletes personalities. When done properly (in a creative manner), people will start to recognize your team members and they are far more likely to support them when they know something about them. From a basic standpoint, this means involving the individuals in the videos that you are turning out. However, keep in mind that there is always a more valuable currency for doing this in a unique, creative manner. When you do something really creative that catches people’s attention, they will be more likely to recognize your student-athletes in other marketing messages. Pursue unique involvement and you will not regret it.
4. Create consistency in branding elements: Building on the elements above, there is another concept that all programs should consider. In branding, people associate things back to your program based on their interactions with you. When these associations are good, then you build your brand and often realize benefits that help to grow the program. However, keep in mind that a large part of branding now has to do with delivering messages via social media. With this being the case, you should have a consistent look that your followers will always recognize. So, in addition to having a logo and mantra that you use, consider finding a font that you consistently use in different key marketing messages. If you get this right, people will start to recognize your messages regardless of where they see them. This is a small thing that makes a big difference.
5. Coming in next entry…
“Excellence does not fit in with mediocrity. Strive to set a standard in your field that inspires others to differentiate”