Branding is About Boldness: Be Brave and Set a Unique Standard of Excellence

UnknownBranding is all about being bold.  You’ve got to be bold enough to dream up a unique vision and then bold enough to make it public. The thing is that most people are not willing to do this and they will instead stand aside and criticize and critique the individuals who are brave enough to dream big publicly.  If you want to achieve great things in branding, you must find a way to believe in your vision so much that you will never let others deter you from your pursuit to achieve unique things.  This is what it will take to get people on board with your vision and to create energy surrounding your brand.

When you take the time to study the organizations who have created an extraordinary brand, it always starts with the boldness of a leader.  This is usually an individual who has a special ability to dream far beyond what other people would consider a realistic expectation.  While others say that something is not possible, they see their vision clearly Steve-Jobs-dent-in-universein their head and are willing to cast a vision regardless what other people will think of them.  Far before what Apple what it is today, Steve Jobs had a vision for products that would transcend the way that people consumed technology.  This would not have been possible without an amazing ability to dream.  The end result is a brand that is now one of the strongest in the world – and influences people’s lives daily in a positive manner.

In addition to being bold enough to dream, you must develop the ability to move on your vision when things are not clear.  While you can see the end goal, it is likely that you will Martin-Luther-King-Jr_largenot know the steps it will take in between to realize your brand vision. This is when you need to be bold enough to move (and take creative risks) so that you are able to learn from the process.  And as you do this, you must constantly strive to create energy with the people around you.  This will not be possible if you lose your ability to believe that you are going to achieve REALLY great things. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to change our world forever because he had an extraordinary passion that fueled his vision in times of extreme adversity. If he can accomplish this, then surely we can find the courage to pursue our dreams.

The point of this entry is to encourage you to be brave in your pursuit to achieve great things.  Whether you are a boss, coach, parent, athlete, student, or leader in any other capacity, you will need to learn to dream big publicly if you want to build an extraordinary brand.  As explained by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, “Ironically, in a changing world, playing it safe is the riskiest thing you can do.”  So, be bold enough to cast a vision that will elevate the people around you.  Do not worry about whether or not people think you can achieve it.  Instead, spend the time to know the vision you are passionate about and then be brave enough to take steps even when you don’t see the whole staircase!  You will never regret chasing your vision and dreams!!!

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The Elevation Series: ISU Staff Raises Program Expectations with “All In” Brand Mantra

Iowa State Masterful MissionIowa 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.

ELSMGiven 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.

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ELSMFor 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.

ELSMKnowing 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.

ELSMGiven 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!

ELSMWhat 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!

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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!

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The Elevation Series: Kerry McCoy Talking Social Media Marketing and Terrapin Branding

Maryland Highlight Reel (Small)We recently got the opportunity to chat with Social Media of the Year (SMOY) finalist Kerry McCoy to discuss social media marketing and building the Maryland Wrestling brand.  Coming off of a highly successful 2012-13 branding campaign where Maryland won the Highlight Reel award and was a runner up in Gold Standard award, their staff is looking to build on efforts as they come in to the pre-season ranked #3 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 over the past two years.

ELSM: Over the last two years, there is no program that has more success in marketing than your Maryland program.  What have you done as the head coach to make sure you guys are active in building the Terrapin Wrestling brand?

McCoy: Everyone is fully engaged.  We are active in all areas on campus, in and out of 1017040_10151868119361187_609408387_nthe department.  I believe its important to build strong relationships in order to build a strong brand.

ELSM: In conversations with your staff, you guys come across as a group that is very goal oriented.  What are the specific goals that you and your staff have had when it comes to program marketing efforts?

McCoy: We want to be current, relevant and meaningful.  Everything we do has a purpose.

ELSM: This past year’s Best of Brand competition saw your program emerge victorious in the “Highlight Reel” video category. What role do you have in the production process and how have the videos impacted your marketing efforts?

McCoy: We video so much of our stuff, so it was easy to have content.  Our creative guys at Phigure8 Productions are awesome and added there flair to the content we provided.

ELSM: As an individual, you were one of the first coaches that embraced social media technology for marketing efforts. What influenced your decision to establish an individual and program presence on social media?

McCoy: I actually got into social media on a whim.  No real purpose, but once I realized how powerful it was, I knew it would be important in all facets out my life and especially our program.  I really enjoy it and that makes it worth doing.

ELSM: Going in to this season, you lose a valuable asset to your program in Todd Beckerman with him taking the head coach job at Brown.  What did Todd do to influence your program’s branding efforts and what have you done to fill the hole left by his departure?

McCoy: Todd did a great job with our social media efforts and markets ideas.  We will miss him for that as well as other things.  We are fortunate that our new coaches, Tyrone Lewis and Nate Carr and our administrative assistants Josh Asper and Sam Bell, who are active on social media, so have a few more people will help us stay on top of things and not miss a beat.

ELSM: As an elite branding coach, what advice would you have for coaches looking to invest in social media marketing initiatives?

McCoy: Take the time to do it.  It really takes an effort to have meaningful content, but once you get in the groove of posting good stuff it becomes easier and the benefits are huge.

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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!

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The Elevation Series: Azevedo Building #DragSwag Brand with Creativity and Outreach

Drexel Pure Entertainment (Small)We recently sat down with Matt Azevedo, head coach at Drexel Wrestling, who was our Social Media of the Year (SMOY) winner during the 2012-13 season in the Head Coach category.  Their program was also a Best of Brand Gold Standard finalist and won the Pure Entertainment category.  In addition to receiving recognition this past season, they have extended efforts into the pre-season and were recently ranked #4 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: You recently had a tremendous amount of interest in your #DragSwag photo caption promotion.  How did you come up with this branding concept?

#DragSwag giveaway for photo caption contest

#DragSwag giveaway for photo caption contest

Azevedo: We received a lot of feed back about some new gear we posted on Twitter, so we decided to do a give away.  My assistant coach Frank Cimato came up with the “caption a photo” idea.   We gave a Drexel Wrestling hoodie to the best caption.  It was great, we had over 75 entries.

ELSM: You guys seem to be really embracing a creative mindset in your marketing efforts.  Could you talk about your philosophy in this area and how you have got your program to buy into it?

Azevedo: We are constantly thinking and brainstorming about new ways to get people engaged in our program while also building our brand.  It’s like a contest amongst the staff to come up with the most creative idea.  We also borrow ideas and tweak them to fit our needs.  Our team has really gotten into the effort, because we encourage them and emphasis on a daily basis how important it is.

ELSM: This past year you guys did an outstanding job in the Battle Round component of the Best of Brand awards.  In fact, I remember you talking about how much interest you received from the voting component.  Tell us a little about your experience with the awards and the impact they had on your program.

Azevedo: Getting nominated and winning a Best of Brand Award was very rewarding for our team and also reemphasized the importance of marketing.  Our team’s hard is paying off and now are guys are really starting to take pride in the efforts.  When it comes to the voting, we had a game plan for our team to vote every hour.  We we’re sending out hourly texts messages to the team as reminders.  Our guys also did a great job getting word out to friends and family via twitter and facebook.  Even my Wife got into the mix!

ELSM: As a top program in branding, you are now setting the standard for other programs.  What advice would you give to aspiring programs looking to build their brand?

Azevedo: Develop a message and relentlessly promote it.  Your athletes are some of your best resources for ideas and getting the word out.

ELSM: What can we expect from #DragSwag this upcoming year?

Azevedo: You will definitely see some creative videos from us this year.  We will continue to get people engaged through Twitter and Facebook.  We’re also working on a campaign to get students on campus more aware and evolved in our program.

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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!

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The Elevation Series: SDSU Coach Chris Bono Talks Marketing and “Get Jacked” Philosophy

SDSU Top NewcomerWe 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?

UnknownBono: 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!

Posted in Best of Brand, Branding | Tagged , , , , , ,

ELSM/NWCA Announce Pre-Season Top 10 “Best of Brand” Power Rankings

Coyte Cooper (@coytecooper) – ELSM

Best of Brand LogoChapel Hill, NC – In an effort to continue to grow wrestling at the college level, Elite Level Sport Marketing (ELSM) and the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) have released the first version of the Best of Brand (BOB) Power Rankings that will take place during the 2013-14 season.

The Power Rankings are designed to highlight the programs that are most effectively building their brand via social media. Each ranking includes the “Top 10” programs and the programs just outside of this range that are considered “On the Bubble.”  In addition, the early season rankings will include programs “On the Horizon” that are a threat to break into the rankings.

Following this Pre-Season version, the Power Rankings will be released the first Monday of each month until April when the Best of Brand award category finalists will be announced.

Priority for the Power Rankings will be given to programs involved in the Best of Brand awards program.  To get your program involved, register for the Annual Achievement awards today at the Best of Brand registration page.

This first Power Ranking includes 10 programs that were finalists in one of the top Best of Brand categories (Gold Standard, Masterful Mission, and Top Newcomer).  In addition, the top 5 all included teams that won at least one Best of Brand award for the 2012-13 season.

The top 10 in the Power Rankings are listed below with a performance justification for their current position.  In addition, the “On the Bubble” and “On the Horizon” programs are listed.

Program Performance Justification
#1 UTC

Twitter: @UTCWrestling

Mantra: #ChattanoogaStrong

UTC returns as the prestigious Gold Standard winner in the Best of Brand awards as they were recognized as the top program in social media marketing for the 2012-13 season. They lose SMOY Assistant Coach finalist Rocco Mansueto, but still have a solid core in place to challenge for the top spot moving forward.  As the defending champs, they deserve to start at the top until another program proves otherwise.
#2 Iowa State

Twitter: @CycloneWR

Mantra: #AllIn

Iowa State returns an entire staff that was involved in two Best of Brand finalist appearances in the Gold Standard and Masterful Mission categories.  In addition, they were the only program that had a head coach, assistant coach, and athlete named finalists in each of the Social Media of Year (SMOY) award categories. They maintained a solid off-season presence and are poised to take their “All In” mantra to a new level.
#3 Maryland

Twitter: @UMDWrestling

Mantra: #FearTheTurtle

Over the last two years, there is no program that has had a stronger social media presence than Maryland. After winning the Gold Standard award is 2011-12, they returned this past season and were runner-up in the category and won the Highlight Reel award.  In addition, they have SMOY finalist Kerry McCoy at the helm.  They lose SMOY assistant coach finalist Todd Beckman, but gain a talented Tyrone Lewis to fill his spot.
#4 Drexel

Twitter: @DrexelWrestling

Mantra: #DragSwag

Drexel is coming off a season where they had one of the most well rounded social media marketing efforts of any program. In addition to being a finalist in the Gold Standard category, they won the Pure Entertainment video category and Matt Azevedo was a SMOY finalist in the head coach category.  Look for them to have a big year as their entire staff and student-athletes are heavily involved in marketing the program.
#5 South Dakota State

Twitter: @SDSUWrestling

Mantra: #GetJacked

South Dakota State stormed on to the social media marketing scene this year under the leadership of SMOY head coach finalist Chris Bono. With their solid video presence and involvement from entire staff, they will be a major threat this year for the Gold Standard award.  Look for some new creative initiatives from their program moving forward.
#6 NC State

Twitter: @PackWrestle

Mantra: #PackMentality

NC State is another program that emerged and had a strong season on social media.  Led by Pat Popolizio and their #PackMentality mantra, they had an outstanding well rounded approach from their entire staff on social media.  In addition, they have established a strong presence on their program blog.  They return SMOY winner Jamill Kelley in the assistant coach category.
#7 Purdue

Twitter: @PurdueWrestling

Mantra: #BoilerUp

Purdue has maintained a strong presence on social media the past two years and have continually improved the video content that they offer to their followers.  On top of this, their staff is active consistently promoting the program on Twitter on a regular basis.
#8 UNC

Twitter: @UNCWrestling

Mantra: #RamTough

During the past year, UNC has worked hard to build their #RamTough mantra via social media marketing. In addition to being named a finalist in the Masterful Mission category, they were the only program to be a finalist in three different categories.  Look for them to build on this with more activity from their entire staff this year on social media.
#9 Rutgers

Twitter: @RUWrestling

Mantra: #RUWR

The Rutgers program is led by SMOY head coach finalist Scott Goodale.  However, the entire staff is active on social media and they have done a solid job building interest surrounding the program from a marketing standpoint.
10. Wabash

Twitter: @WabashWrestling

Mantra: #BashNation

Wabash is a program that is on the rise in social media marketing.  Following Danny Irwin’s SMOY nomination in the assistant coach category, their program differentiated themselves with a creative campaign that built interest on their campus and in the surrounding area.  Look for them to step up efforts this year.
On the Bubble (just outside Top 10): Duke, Ithaca, Johns Hopkins, Mizzou, Minnesota, Penn State, Roger Williams
On the Horizon (threat to break into Top 10): Appalachian State, Briar Cliff, Grand View, Lake Erie, Ohio, Ouachita Baptist, Princeton, Rhode Island College, Stanford, Sacred Heart, Wayland, Wyoming

About Elite Level Sports Marketing (ELSM)

Elite Level Sports Marketing is a firm that specializes in the development and implementation of innovative marketing plans for sport organizations, businesses, and programs.  Functioning around five core values: innovation, integrity, connection, adding value, and making a difference, ELSM provides coaches, marketing professionals, and fans with marketing resources to help grow sport organizations.

About National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA)

The National Wrestling Coaches Association, established in 1928, is a non-profit organization for the advancement of all levels of the sport of wrestling with primary emphasis on developing coaches who work in academic environments.   The membership embraces all people interested in amateur wrestling.  The three core competencies of the NWCA are: coaching development, student-athlete welfare, and promotion of wrestling.

Contact for ELSM: Coyte Coopercoytecooper@elsmarketing.org

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Interviewing Interns: Tips to Find Quality Individuals to Grow Program

Coyte Cooper, Ph.D.

ELSMarketing LogoFor most NCAA and high school sport programs, it is up to the coaching staff to develop a unique brand that will allow them to reach full potential in marketing.  And while coaches can (and should) play a critical role in this process, they have a limited amount of time on their hands and/or often lack marketing-related skill sets necessary to reach full potential in marketing efforts.  Coaches can certainly develop these skills sets, but even if they do, there will still be the issue of only having a set number of hours in a day to get everything done.  On top of this, compounding marketing efforts often take the synergy of a team that works in coordination to build interest in a program effectively.  This is exactly why coaches need to become highly efficient at attracting quality individuals to serve in internship roles.

The good news is that the initial steps to attract quality interns have already been outlined in a previous “Necessity of Networking” entry and in the Marketing Manual internship-graphic(chapter 3 – page 18).  If you are in the initial steps of developing an internship program/team, take a look at these and develop a plan for reaching out to recruit quality students.  Once you have done this effectively, you will arrive at the phase where you must choose the individuals who will join your program marketing team.  For these individuals, it is important that you develop a screening process that allows you find proactive people that will take your efforts to a new level.  Rather than pulling it out of thin air, there are three tips below that all coaches should consider during the interview screening phase.

Tips to Attract “Top Level” Intern Talent

1. Narrow by Niche Skill Sets: When you are starting a new internship program, it is possible that your pool may not be too deep.  If this is the case, then you simply look for the best individuals based on what you are trying to achieve (e.g., developing video series, enhancing social media presence).  However, if you have promoted your experience well, there is a chance that you will have some choices to make about who you will interview.  In this instance, start by exploring for individuals who have experience in the areas that are most important to your program.  This will provide initial data points to consider when determining who to interview in person.

2. Start with Some Simple Screening: If you have an extensive applicant pool, there may be no way getting around the fact that you will have to eliminate people before moving to this step.  However, if you have determined you would like to interview 3-5 people in person during the later stages of the process, you may want to consider the use of a simple screening process to help narrow your pool to this point.  For this, I would suggest putting together a series of questions (2-5 depending on depth) you would like them to answer via email.  These should be program specific and should be tailored to the position you are looking to fill (e.g., After looking through our program social media sites, what suggestions would you have for increasing interest in program the upcoming year?).  Give them a short deadline (24-48 hours) and encourage them to be creative as possible.

Note. In most instances, organizations will focus solely on the responses provided by candidates on the spot in an in-person interview setting. While this is useful, it is not absolutely critical that an individual can come up with a creative response on the spot.  In fact, most differentiated marketing strategies come from a planning process that takes time.  Given this, don’t be afraid to give candidates time to come up with creative responses.  This is more realistic to the position you will fill and will give you a better chance of succeeding with the candidate.

3. Be Innovative with Interview: Once you have narrowed your pool to the individuals you would like to interview in person, it is important that you are creative with your assessment. An innovative approach will allow you to assess them more effectively while also sending a message about your program’s approach.  Building on the previous step, take a unique approach that will allow you to see the candidates ability to come up with creative strategies when given some time to prepare.  In this step, rather than simply asking questions, you should take the opportunity to do much more with the candidate’s time and energy.  So, to build on the previous phase, give the candidates a set time period (5 days leading up to interview) and ask them to develop a condensed strategic plan in the area you are seeking (e.g., social media).  If you followed the earlier suggestion, you could ask them to develop a 10-15 minute briefing for the coaching staff on the steps they would suggest to enhance social media marketing efforts during the internship period.  The ability to carry this out will tell you a lot about the individuals you are interviewing.  It will also give you a real good feel about how serious they are about the experience.  If you do not have an extensive pool, you may want to stick to an informal Q&A here with the questions provided a head of time.

Follow-Up: Once you have moved through these steps, hopefully the process will allow individuals to differentiate themselves.  The fact that you have a more extensive process will leave less confusion on the backend because it will allow you to see unique skill sets more clearly.  If you get to the end and have 2-3 quality individuals, understand that this is not a bad problem to have.  In this case, do not be afraid to take on a team that can work together on initiatives.  My experience is that the right groups of individuals will make a team that will achieve some unique things if directed the right way.  Once you reach this point, congrats because you are ready to take the next step to grow your program!  This is an exciting time that you should celebrate!  You are now ready to work WITH these individuals to achieve great things!

“It is better to have one person working with you than three people working for you” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Posted in Foundational Elements, Innovative Marketing Practices, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Marketing Mindset 101: Setting Attendance Goals and Making Them Public

Coyte G. Cooper, Ph.D.

As I headed into my morning marketing class, I was thinking about ways that coaches can increase the support surrounding their program.  Naturally, this lead me to considering event attendance and the steps necessary to put butts in the seats.  Moving into this academic year, it is critical that coaches are looking to find ways to promote their events that take place on campus.  While there are a variety of strategies to achieve this, it starts with setting a vision for what you would like to achieve via marketing.  So, with that being the case, here some some steps that every coach should take if they are interested in building attendance at their events.

Step #1Set attendance goals for each of your events: In athletics, you set goals so you LehighDualhave something to strive towards.  It gives you a vision that allows you to stay focused during a hectic schedule.  So, why the heck would you not do this in your marketing efforts?  Every coach should know their goals for the attendance that they would like to achieve during each home event.  It is important to make these challenging so that they force you to step out of your comfort zone.  However, they also need to be reasonable so that they effectively guide promotional efforts.

Step #2 – Make your goals visible in marketing efforts: Once you have your attendance goals in place, don’t be afraid to make them a visible part of your marketing efforts.  There is no reason why you would not let your fans know about an attendance record you are shooting to break for a key home event.  After all, they have to know about it if they are going to help you promote the event via word-of-mouth marketing.  In addition, making a goal public also makes it more real and less likely that you will back off during the season.

Step #3 – Involve student-athletes and alumni in process: Even before you make your goals public, you should inform your student-athletes and alumni about the programs intentions with attendance goals.  Heck, you can even ask them for suggestions on how to help increase interest at events.  In marketing, brainstorming with a group of engaged stakeholders is a guaranteed way to come up with more creative ideas to help reach your goals.  Even better, their involvement up front helps encourage buy-in when you move forward with marketing the events.

Border BattleStep #4 – Create themes for key events: If you are going to make your events appealing, you must truly embrace the concept of “Making them an Event” (see page 28-29 in Marketing Manual).  With this being the case, you need to start by packaging them to make an initial impression.  Rather than just calling them a home event or “UNC v. Virginia,” you can come up with names that tap into emotions for students and individuals on campus.   On page 13 of this UNC Wrestling marketing plan, there are example of themes for home dual meets.  In this instance, you could use the #BorderBattle theme in your social media efforts leading up to the marquee match.  The point is that you need to package your events to make an initial impression that reflects a little creativity.

Step #5 – Strive for an attendance record at one event: While you want to maximize attendance at all events, every program should strive to “go big” at one home event each year.  Pick an exciting match-up and develop a theme that ties into the attendance record you are shooting for (e.g., “Takedown 2k Event”).  In addition, if this is a lofty goal, you need to find a way to tie-in to a larger cause that will help drum up interest in the event.  For example, it could be an event co-sponsored with Dance Marathon where you are attempting to raise 2k to “takedown cancer” via research.  This concept is not fully developed, but you get the point.  The cause will help you extend your reach while also appealing to people’s emotions.  This also has the potential to build your brand because it is supporting an extremely good cause.  You get the point…

Conclusion

It is unrealistic to think that folks are just going to show up at your events.  As a coach in today’s competitive entertainment environment, you need to give people a reason to attend and to keep coming back.  While this does not address the promotional elements you can include to truly create “an aura surrounding your event,” it gives you a starting point to consider as you develop your marketing plan.  So, get to work right now and you can achieve unique things this year via attendance.  It is on you to create a support system surrounding your program.

“Strive for a level that will make you truly unique. If you fall short, there is a good chance you will still differentiate during the process” (ELSM Innovation Team)

Posted in Foundational Elements, Innovative Marketing Practices | Tagged , , , ,

Nittany Lion David Taylor Claims Social Media Wrestler of the Year Honors

Kacie Albert – ELSM

Chapel Hill, NC – The rivalry between Penn State’s David Taylor and Cornell’s Kyle Dake was restored, this time off the mat, in the battle for Social Media Wrestler of the Year, where Taylor was victorious.

Taylor Graphic“This was an extremely tight race that came down to the wire,” said ELSM CEO Coyte Cooper. “Both Taylor and Dake do an outstanding job on social media building their brand and growing the sport. The differentiating factor was that Taylor had more votes during the competition.”

Taylor outlasted seven other wrestlers, all of who had used social media to both market their school’s program and build their personal brand, in the first ever competition for Social Media Wrestler of the Year, an extension of the Best of Brand Awards.

“I am honored to receive the first annual social media award and am grateful that fans enjoy my social media activity,” said Taylor. “I want to thank everyone who voted for me, and thank the NWCA for considering me.”

Taylor earned the unique award after beating out his fellow wrestlers in two key elements: a panel of judges assessing performance (60%) and an online voting competition (40%).

Penn State wrestling was branded this past season through Taylor via his active presence on Twitter.

Taylor, who tweets from the handle @magicman_psu, brands his entire Twitter presence around his identity as a wrestler and member of the Penn State family.

Taylor’s persona comes through strongly throughout the entire account, but is highlighted by his bio and background picture, which makes a shout out to his fan club, the David Taylor Gang.

Any individual who follows or stumbles across Taylor’s profile can instantly see his passion for the sport and his school. Taylor retweets wrestling information from governmental bodies including the NCAA and NWCA, other coaches and wrestling programs and organizational entities such as USA Wrestling.

Moreover via Taylor’s Twitter profile, followers can seem him interact with fellow wrestlers who compete scholastically, collegiately, nationally and internationally.

While Taylor is passing on tidbits that provide brilliant insights and updates into the world of wrestling, the personal @magicman_psu account has also allowed Taylor’s personality to shine through and followers have been able to see the sport through the eyes of someone who has a great passion for it.

Taylor, a recent graduate of Penn State, helped the Nittany Lion’s earn three consecutive team national championships. Taylor is a one-time individual national champion, Hodge Trophy winner and NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler and earned All-American honors in three seasons.

For winning the award, Taylor will receive a custom framed awards poster and will be recognized at the NWCA Convention in August.

For more information on the “Social Media of the Year” awards, visit the ELSM site.

About Elite Level Sports Marketing (ELSM) Elite Level Sports Marketing is a firm which specializes in the development and implementation of innovative marketing plans for sport organizations, businesses, and programs.  Functioning around five core values: innovation, integrity, connection, adding value, and making a difference, ELSM provides coaches and fans with marketing resources to help grow sport organizations.

About National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) The National Wrestling Coaches Association, established in 1928, is a non-profit organization for the advancement of all levels of the sport of wrestling with primary emphasis on developing coaches who work in academic environments.   The membership embraces all people interested in amateur wrestling.  The three core competencies of the NWCA are: coaching development, student-athlete welfare, and promotion of wrestling.

Contact for ELSM: Coyte Cooper; 919-699-3420; coytecooper@elsmarketing.org

 

Posted in Best of Brand, ELSM Press Releases, ELSM Storylines | Tagged , , , , ,

Drexel’s Matt Azevedo claims Social Media Head Coach of the Year Honors

Kacie Albert – ELSM

Chapel Hill, NC – In a solid all-around performance, Drexel’s Matt Azevedo has been named the Social Media Head Coach of the Year by Elite Level Sport Marketing (ELSM) and the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA).

Azevedo Graphic“Coach Azevedo has done an outstanding job building the Drexel brand throughout the year,” said ELSM CEO Coyte Cooper. “Their staff has done an amazing job creating a unique culture on social media and he is very deserving of this award.”

Azevedo outlasted eight other coaches in the first ever competition for Social Media Head Coach of the Year, an extension of the Best of Brand Awards. Azevedo’s nearest competitor earned more than 1,000 fewer votes than did Azevedo.

“This award is very meaningful to me, because our team puts a lot of effort into social media and promoting Drexel Wrestling,” said Azevedo. “Its nice to know our hard work is getting noticed-All credit goes to the Drexel Wrestling Team!”

Azevedo earned the unique award after beating out his fellow assistant coaches in two key elements: a panel of judges assessing performance (60%) and an online voting competition (40%).

Drexel wrestling was branded this past season through two social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter.

“For the sport wrestling, social media is crucial, “said Azevedo. “Our sport is not as mainstream as others, so we need to get to public by all means necessary.  And I believe social media is one of the best ways to keep people engaged.”

The Drexel University Wrestling Facebook page boasts 1,903 likes since its creation on September 2, 2009. From the home page, visitors can see all-things Drexel wrestling, including snapshots of the team supporting other Drexel Dragons and live updates from wrestling meets. From the Facebook page, visitors also have the ability to see Drexel wrestling events, link directly to the Drexel wrestling twitter account and shop for team gear.

Drexel Wrestling, the Twitter account for Drexel complete with Twitter handle @DrexelWrestling, has 1,755 followers and has tweeted over 1,900 times since the account was created. The account not only tweets out live, minute-by-minute match updates for Drexel and other wrestling competitions, but retweets information from the likes of the NWCA, ELSM and other members of the wrestling community.

“We encourage all of our guys to get on Twitter and Facebook in the effort to promote our program,” said Azevedo. “We have own hash tag #DRAGSWAG, that is unique to our team. We continually post content that our fans will be interested in, while also trying to give our fans an inside look into our team by posting non-wrestling activities.”

From the Drexel Wrestling official website, visitors can access directly the Facebook page for the wrestling team only in addition to the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube, covering all things Drexel athletics.

Over the past year Azevedo credited three things with contributing to the social media success of Drexel wrestling: “consistently posting unique and relevant content, creating a culture that encourages team promotion, specifically, getting the guys on our team to be very active in social media and #DRAGSWAG.”

Azevedo joined the Drexel family in April 2011 as only the eighth head coach in the history of the program. Azevedo accepted the position at Drexel after coaching at both Cornell and Cal Poly.

In his first season coaching at Drexel, Azevedo had three wrestlers qualify for the NCAA championships and pioneered the effort to have Drexel host the 2012 Flo Nationals and the accompanying 750 high school wrestlers.

Azevedo wrestled collegiately for both Arizona State and Iowa State, advancing to the NCAA championships three times. However, Azevedo had great success post college.

Following college and prior to beginning his career as a coach, Azevedo wrestled his way to becoming a seven-time U.S. National place winner, two-time U.S. National Team member and 2008 U.S. Open national Champion.

For winning the award, Azevedo will receive a custom framed awards poster and will be recognized at the NWCA Convention in August.

For more information on the “Social Media of the Year” awards, visit the ELSM site.

About Elite Level Sports Marketing (ELSM) Elite Level Sports Marketing is a firm which specializes in the development and implementation of innovative marketing plans for sport organizations, businesses, and programs.  Functioning around five core values: innovation, integrity, connection, adding value, and making a difference, ELSM provides coaches and fans with marketing resources to help grow sport organizations.

About National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) The National Wrestling Coaches Association, established in 1928, is a non-profit organization for the advancement of all levels of the sport of wrestling with primary emphasis on developing coaches who work in academic environments.   The membership embraces all people interested in amateur wrestling.  The three core competencies of the NWCA are: coaching development, student-athlete welfare, and promotion of wrestling.

Contact for ELSMCoyte Cooper; 919-699-3420; coytecooper@elsmarketing.org

Posted in Best of Brand, ELSM Press Releases, ELSM Storylines | Tagged , , , , ,