We have been really lucky this year. A number of our promotions have been picked up by local and national media outlets and given us earned media, brand awareness and more butts in seats. While I do consider it luck, that people actually like our ideas, there is a process that we go through as we develop each promotion to try to maximize the chance to gain media attention.
Here are a few tips from our brainstorming and promotion development process:
- Be first, best or different - You need to differentiate your promotions from the rest. We try to be the first to do something, or we try to be different than other promos that have already been done and take them to the next level. We were the first (as far as I know) to offer a phone-free seating section for our Actual Reality promotion. Don’t just do a Star Wars night because you feel you have to, be the first to do it differently. Our coach was in Space Jam, and we wanted to do a theme around that. We didn’t just do a Space Jam Night, we called it Monstars Night and had some fun with it.
- Make it debatable – Most of our promotions are polarizing. Give the fans a chance to choose a side. Give the writers and TV stations something to debate in print or on the air. Let those message board members argue over which side they take. Millennial Day was so successful because if touched about much-discussed millennial stereotypes that could be debated. It started a conversation, and thus, snowballed into a very popular promotion. And along those same lines…
- Have a hook – Make one aspect of the promotion really stand out. Sometimes it could just be the overall theme, but sometimes it is just a part promotion. For our Marriage Proposal Package, we offered a money back guarantee if the person who was proposed to said no, and that one aspect was brought up on ESPN when Mike & Mike debated the promotion. When we announced our Cargo Shorts Retirement Party, Al Roker and Carson Daly debated on the Today Show about if cargo shorts were still in. The participation trophies were what really drew people into the conversation about our Millennial Day promotion.
- Get buy-in – You need buy-in from your external team as well as the coaching staff, because if the idea sticks and gets picked up by the media, they should feel comfortable in fielding questions about it. We first run our ideas by our Senior Associate AD for External. He then decide who in administration needs to know about it. We then bring it up in our external meetings with communications, the ticket office, and sponsorship to make sure everyone is on board. Once everyone has bought in, continue the process of building out the promotion.
- Go all in – Don’t just make a theme and leave it at that, go all in. Build out your promotions to include in-game activities, ticket deals, videoboard features, social media interaction. Involve your student body, your band and cheerleaders, and even your players if it makes sense.
And most of all: have fun with it! We are in an industry that allows us to be creative, try new things and make an impact on campus and in the community. Enjoy it and have fun with the process!
Assistant Athletics Director For Marketing