A few months ago, after we had announced our Millennial Day Promotion for Men’s Soccer, I was asked by someone in the industry: What do these promotions really do for you? Is it worth the time you put into it? Do promotions like this really move the needle for you? Listen, I get it, we are all pulled in so many different directions in this line of work, with countless responsibilities and such a short time to make it all work, how can we justify spending our valuable time on something as small as a random soccer promotion?
I would argue that being creative and trying new initiatives to increase attendance and awareness are some of the things we should value most in our industry. Here in DC, there are literally thousands of other ways to spend your entertainment money. I joke with my students in a sports marketing class I teach that every farmer’s market (and there are a TON of them in this city) is a competitor for the valuable entertainment dollar. How can we stand out and get our brand into that mix without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising? We can do this by being creative, by pushing the envelope, by developing fun, engaging promotions that people can debate and talk about. I mean we work on campuses where the goal is to create environments where people should feel safe to discuss issues, so what better place to do this?
As veteran sports marketing consultant Joe Favorito mentioned in his article about the promotion: “Driving interest in so called non-revenue sports is near easy, and in a major market like Washington, DC, even the most elite of programs…like basketball, sometimes need a boost. However with some creativity and most importantly some great creativity, buzz and interest can help not just put butts in seats, but also cut through the clutter and get some folks to notice even when the announcement doesn’t involve a favorite son returning home to coach hoops.”
With this promotion we were able to get in the papers and on the TV channels, locally and nationally, in a time where all anyone was talking about in the city was the upcoming Redskins season and the Nationals playoff push. We were able to get Georgetown Athletics back into the local conversation for the first time since we hired our new basketball coach in April, and before the local media usually turned their attention back to college basketball and the Hoyas. The more attention we receive on our programs, the greater the fan support, the greater the support of our student-athletes.
Engagement and impressions on all of our department social media accounts increased. Followers and likes increased. Interest in the soccer team increased. Views on GUHoyas.com increased. And while we did not sell out the game, we did see a spike in advanced sales and walk-up sales on the day of the game.
Our fans have come to expect this from us. We have become one of the creative and innovative athletic departments. So when you see one of our promotions, you might ask yourself: Why did Georgetown retire cargo shorts at a lacrosse game last season? Why did the Hoyas develop a marriage proposal package for men’s basketball games? Why did they give away kale to fans at a women’s basketball game? Who even likes kale? I hope that those in the industry can see that a carefully crafted, fun, engaging themed promotion is worth the time and effort to be able to stand out in this cluttered entertainment industry.
Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing – Georgetown University