Iowa State’s wrestling program is coming off a big year where they took home the prize for the Masterful Mission award in the Best of Brand awards. Building off of a rich wrestling history that has produced 69 individual champions, 284 All-Americans, and 8 national championships since its first title in 1933, Iowa State wrestling has launched a new social media marketing campaign to build their program’s “All In” mantra. Through the effective implementation of this concept both on and off the mat—which pushes unity and commitment as core values to uphold in all aspects of life—the staff and athletes of Iowa State Wrestling continue to build one of the most interactive and productive connections between themselves, their fans, and the world of wrestling. We had a chance to chat with Head Coach Kevin Jackson about this “ALL IN” initiative, other program goals and objectives, and any bits of advice he might have for other programs looking expand their own marketing or branding efforts.
ELSM: Your program has quickly established itself as one of the premier marketing programs in college wrestling (currently ranked #2 in preseason Best of Brand Power Ranking). What steps have you taken to make this happen during the past year?
All of our staff is on the same page and understands where this program is headed, along with the message we want to send out.
ELSM: Given your success this past year in the Best of Brand awards – and winning the Masterful Mission award—it seems like your program really took the time to intentionally brand your “ALL IN” mantra. What have you and your staff done to make this happen?
Really preach “ALL IN” every day to our athletes. We say the same thing 100 different ways so it clicks with everyone and everyone understands that “ALL IN” means being “all in” in all aspects of life, both on and off the mat (socially, academically, nutritionally, etc). Whenever we can send out a good message we try to add the #ALLIN to spread awareness and build the brand.
ELSM: For all of the programs out there entering into the marketing process, what benefits has your program realized from investing in building its brand?
Coach Jackson: People attach it to our program and it creates a buzz about what we are trying to do here—which is to win team and individual national titles.
ELSM: Knowing you and your staff, I know that you will not be content with your previous success in marketing. What types of things are you planning on doing to improve your “ALL IN” branding efforts this upcoming season?
Coach Jackson: Working together and figuring out what we can do next to promote our program outside the box. Entertaining video with our athletes? Set up a dual like PSU (Penn State?) and IA (Iowa?) did on Twitter? Things of that nature will continue to build on what we are already doing.
ELSM: Given your position as a leader in the sport, how important do you think marketing is to growing wrestling in the future?
Coach Jackson: It’s huge—that’s one big thing we have lacked in the sport! We need to get people excited about wrestling and make fans feel involved in the program. Also tell the athletes story when we can (similar to what UFC does well). Build up big matches and create rivalries!
ELSM: What advice would you have for coaches looking to improve their branding efforts?
Coach Jackson: Set up a Facebook page for your program. Have a Twitter account. Develop a mantra that means something to you and your staff and get it out there!
ELSM Elevation Series: 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!