We recently sat down with Chris Bono, head coach of South Dakota State University (SDSU) Wrestling and winner of the 2012-13 Best of Brand “Top Newcomer” award, to discuss the steps they have taken to market their program effectively on campus and in the surrounding community. In addition to receiving recognition this past season, they have extended efforts into the pre-season and were recently ranked #5 in the inaugural Best of Brand Power Ranking for their efforts. Our goal was to learn more about how the program has established such a strong brand in a short amount of time.
ELSM: During the past year, your program stormed on to the social media marketing scene and won the Best of Brand “Top Newcomer” award. What did winning this award mean to your program?
Bono: Anytime you win an award, it is awesome. We worked hard as staff and a department to make sure we did things the right way and to make sure we were getting out message across to fans, alumni, and stakeholders. So to be rewarded feels really good.
ELSM: As one of the top programs in the country in social media marketing, your program did some really unique things to build your “#GetJacked” mantra. What were the steps that you took to really get things moving?
Bono: Some of the steps included getting our goal of the #getjacked mantra across to our supervisors. We wanted to make sure they were on board. We also had to make sure our director of broadcasting had time to help. Thank goodness he was and was fired up to help us. Now we have gone out, with ELSM advice and have a great intern who handles all our general videos and #GetJacked videos.
ELSM: What type of response have you received from your branding efforts?
Bono: The response has been overwhelming, from fans yelling ‘GetJacked’ on campus to recruits seeing the video and taking about it. We have also been able to re-connect with fans and boosters in a meaningful way who have been a way from the program. We are building momentum each day and it is impacting our program!
ELSM: I know your athletic director has been extremely supportive of your marketing efforts. What steps did you take to make sure that he was aware of your efforts?
Bono: Our AD Justin Sell is the best AD in the business. He gets an email every Monday with the most recent “Jacked Up Mondays” video episode (see below for example). He is usually in my office after seeing the video because he is excited about it. He has provided input into the content and is always giving us ideas. Justin is also always available for a quick quote or whatever we ask of him. Again, best AD in the business.
ELSM: Given that you have had a year to establish your marketing efforts, what tips would you give to programs looking to build their brand with key stakeholders?
Bono: The best advice I could give is to be persistent with your effort and message. It does not happen overnight! Have passion about your message every single day!!!
ELSM: What can folks expect from the SDSU program the upcoming year?
Bono: Like I said earlier, we now have an intern just for wrestling video. We have a new video that we just started to put out on Thursdays that is an “All-Access” show for our fans and stakeholders. We just released a “Cribs” episode and it went really well! Of course, our jacked up Mondays will continue as well as highlights, previews, and interviews from matches during the year! #GetJacked
ELSM: The “Elevation Series” is designed to highlight programs that are investing in creative marketing initiatives. We will release different content throughout the year to help elevate branding efforts. Preference will be given to programs who are registered for Best of Brand awards. Please stay tuned for creative content designed to elevate sport programs!