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Capitalize on Opportunities to Create Marketing Campaigns

Kelby Weiter's picture

In the sports industry, there is no such thing as an ordinary day in the office. Athletic events are just as unpredictable. From coaching staff changes to the underdog being the last remaining undefeated team in division I basketball, athletic departments, especially marketing directors, always need to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to marketing.

It is imperative to be proactive and plan ahead for all possible outcomes. Prior to my graduation at Illinois State, ISU hired men’s basketball coach, Dan Muller. Dan graduated from Illinois State and the last time ISU played in the NCAA tournament, Dan was a leader on the court. Bringing in a coach who knew traditions, was previously a member of the student-body and has all the willpower to repeat his accomplishments, this time from the sidelines, was a part of our team.

We were well aware that a coaching staff decision would be made soon, and our team was brainstorming ideas for all possible outcomes. The morning the coaching decision was to be made we held a mandatory marketing meeting to discuss the final details on our marketing campaign within the Bloomington-Normal, IL community.

As exciting events happen, we have to remember to capitalize on opportunities and to market our programs. Whether your team just beat the number 1 ranked football program, won a bowl game, or made the top play on Sportscenter, plan ahead expecting the best. When you least expect it, you will have to adapt to your situation. Keep fans excited. Engage and drive interests in your athletic programs through social media campaigns, microsites, merchandise, in-game promotions, events and much more.

When creating your marketing campaign, be sure to encompass multiple marketing avenues to build up the campaign, especially social media due to its potential for national exposure. Below are three of my favorite social media marketing campaigns. The first two took home awards at the 2012 NACMA Convention for their implementation during the 2011-2012 academic year.


Minnesota Duluth created a marketing campaign for senior center Jack Connolly, who was a finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, an award given to the top college hockey player in the country. Not only was the We Back Jack hashtag chosen, but other elements included Twitter, Facebook and Flicker accounts to engage fans. A microsite was also designed so fans could learn about Jack Connelly and vote directly from the microsite. In-game elements were also designed and presented. Jack Connolly won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.


Last winter, Murray State men’s basketball was the last remaining undefeated division I men’s basketball team. Of course I was excited since it was my alma mater, but when Dickie Vitale said, “You take a look at Murray State, what a great job they're doing. I would love one time to go down there to do a game, to see those young kids” Murray State students instantly took the comment to Twitter and the #BringDickieVtoMurray marketing campaign sparked. Murray State Athletics Department encouraged students to tweet to @DickieV, change their Facebook profile and cover photos to a special template created by Murray State Athletics. They also created a pre-game promotion where students did their best Dickie V impersonations which were later posted to YouTube and a letter signing campaign took place on campus which were mailed to ESPN. On February 18th, Dickie V attended the Murray State men’s basketball game to announce their Bracket Buster game on ESPN.


During the second weekend of September, I was fortunate to take a trip to College Station, TX to work with the 12th Man Foundation and attend the Texas A&M vs. Florida SEC home opener. I’ve been working with the 12th Man Foundation on the Ultimate 12th Man Challenge and ever since, I have been watching Aggie Football. Texas A&M’s freshman quarterback, Johnny Manziel, is a Heisman candidate and #JohnnyFootball was introduced. Texas A&M also launched a microsite to highlight his accomplishments with an infographic to educate fans. Additionally, Texas A&M held a press conference for Johnny Manziel yesterday afternoon to discuss his Heisman candidacy.

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