NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Connecting with community, developing a strong strategic plan, keeping focus on mission and melding core values with those of corporate sponsors are all ways to create an effective marketing plan in tough economic times.
“Get more engaged with your community; let people know your mission,” said panelist Carlton Cooper, director of athletics at Texas A&M-Commerce, during the January 15 Convention session called “Intersecting the Benefits of Corporate Partners and Marketing.”
Carlton stressed that a good marketing plan to help gain funds for athletics programs was “all about relationships,” including community, friends, coaches and athletics administrators. He told those in the packed room not to be afraid to try new ideas and to know their staff and their experiences. He emphasized contacting individuals in other divisions and working with the media as especially helpful tools in developing an effective marketing strategy.
Carthage President Greg Campbell said marketing a Division III school is a bit different. Creating and publicizing programs that appeal to student-athletes, using athletics to create an attractive environment on campus, cultivating community relations and heightening public awareness of the institution are ways to bring recognition and value to the school. He said effective marketing programs keep focus on the mission of the school and “help students understand each other and their passions to develop excellence.”
Dave Brunk, commissioner of the Peach Belt Conference, described how to illustrate the value of a corporate partnership with a college athletics program. He said corporate partnerships with universities or conferences add value to businesses and promotes their success. Brunk cited a successful Peach Belt program titled “Breakfast with Champions,” where the conference teamed with Coke and local grocer Publix for a breakfast and soccer camp. Bringing the community, conference teams and businesses together benefited all parties.
Some institutions and conferences could benefit from using an outside marketing firm. Dea Shipps, associate commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, said her organization sought an outside marketing firm. She noted that some in-house marketing staffs get caught up in other job duties, focusing less on promoting the conference or school.
Arleen Zulawski, senior manager of Velocity Sports and Entertainment, said the best results come when the mindset involves mutual benefit.
“You and your partner are promoting and helping each other,” she said. “Be realistic about what you have, and don’t have, to offer. A partnership is a two-way street. Your commitment is key for a long-lasting partnership.”
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association