Coach Harbaugh has been in the news a lot lately. Whether you agree with his techniques or not, one thing is undeniable: he’s making the off season something worth watching. And from a marketing perspective, that’s powerful stuff.
Sports marketers are challenged to find ways to draw a crowd and keep them coming back. That’s getting harder and harder to do, because there are more alternatives than ever to game day attendance. At a time when collegiate sports programs are struggling with declining attendance, you can’t afford to let your marketing initiatives simmer on the back of the stove in between seasons. You have to find ways to keep fans engaged and maintain your momentum year round.
Even if your program doesn’t have Michigan’s resources, here are a few lessons you can apply in your own way.
Shake things up. Spring break practice in Florida? Friday night games? What?? Breaking away from the status quo draws attention and gives people something to talk about. Whether you go big or go small, do something different. Better yet, do it in a way that offers some sort of advantage for your team or your fans. Don’t just do it as a copycat, because your fans will call you out on it.
Get people excited about your new line-up. Signing day is a big deal, so make it a big deal. You don’t have to make it a circus to make it count. Look for ways to hype up your new recruits and the strength of your upcoming season. Social media (especially YouTube) is an incredible tool for this, and it doesn’t take a massive budget to make a memorable impact.
Decide what you want to be. Then be it. A football program is a football program is a football program…except that it’s not. It’s a lot more. It’s a collective identity and a shared consciousness. Own it. Does your team have a reputation you’re proud of? Find ways to amp it up. Want to have a different reputation than you currently do? Come up with a plan for how to reposition yourselves, then go after it full force.
Controversy = conversation. Being controversial isn’t for everybody, and you certainly don’t want to be on the hot seat in terms of violating rules. But it’s a proven way to generate media attention, and it can be a mobilizing force for your fan base. Just choose your controversies wisely, if you’re going to go there. And make sure you have the right people on board.
Sure, it helps to have a big budget and powerful connections when you want to stand out. But you don’t need those things to do more in the off season. All you really need is a thorough understanding of your target audience, strong collaboration within your program, a few creative ideas, and the will to win.
In the past few years, there's been a great shift on social media - a shift to visual content over text content. Why is this?
Among the many reasons:
Statistics show that 81% of people only skim the content they read online.
The average person gets distracted in just 8 seconds.
It only takes someone 50 milliseconds to form a first impression.
Most people only remember 20% of what they read if the text is not accompanied by visual content.
So now, due to these reasons and lots of others, there's a greater focus on visual content in online marketing. And those of us who are spatial/visual learners...say it with me..."it's about time"! A great amount of people thrive on images, pictures, color, and visual media such as photos, videos, illustrations, and infographics to assist us in our learning process and in information retention. Raise your hand if you're like me and learn more than you ever thought possible from YouTube videos.
Visual content has become so important that it's predicted that 84% of communiation will be visual by 2018.
With this information, it may be time to consider the following:
Don't bother to tell your story if you're not prepared to also show it.
Because most people only skim the content they see online - do whatever you can to make your message stand out, and quickly!
Consider the creation of logos and icons to help sell your message. (We can help).
Look at your use of color and typeography. Are they visually pleasing? Are you consistent with their use? Are your colors and fonts on brand and reflecting of your style and the story you are wanting to tell?
Make stand-out photography and creative videography high on your priority list. The creation of stunning visuals will greatly help sell your message. And PS, one study I read speculates that 79% of internet traffic will be video content by 2018.
Duke is one Old Hat client who has really prioritized visual content on social media this year. We've partnered with them to create some great social media graphics they're using for gameday promotions, score updates, awards announcements and much more.
We started by creating social media cover and profile images so every Duke Athletics team was consistent and on-brand.
Fun Fact: Each individual sport's profile picture uses elements from their schedule poster, that we also designed. So even though they are consistent looking, there are unique differences.
From there, we created a variety of template graphics. Each sport has their own set that they can update with new information such as game scores, athlete accomplishments, and game day promotions.
We've even put together special occasion graphics for holidays, special events and more.
If you're interested in incorporating more visuals into your social media, but need a little help getting started, contact us!
And in the meantime, play this fun matching/memory game to get more tips and fun facts on images in social media.