A September Saturday in a college town has an undeniable energy. It’s hard to walk down a sidewalk without being greeted by the smell of cheeseburgers grilling at a tailgate party. Or the fight song signaling a touchdown.
Some schools have years-long wait lists for season tickets, while others have a hard time filling seats. If the latter sounds familiar, it’s probably time to look at how you’re marketing your college or university athletics. Because the benefits of building a strong fan base for your team are more far-reaching than you might think.
According to the USA Today “2016-2017 Top School Sports Revenue,” The University of Texas at Austin came in first with nearly $215 million. They were followed (not surprisingly) by Texas A&M, The Ohio State University and University of Michigan. Now, obviously not all schools can claim numbers like those, especially since a good portion of that is related to licensing and rights fees. But it’s pretty safe to say football, as well as men’s and women’s basketball, are the top revenue generators. However, those aren’t the only sports that benefit. Revenue generated by the top-earning sports can help fund entire athletic programs as well as other university departments.
Interest & Enrollment
Sure, Google searches increase when a Cinderella team upsets a higher seed. Just ask University of Maryland Baltimore, the 16th seed that upset #1 University of Virginia last March in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. But enrollment does, too. And according to the Baltimore Sun, in 2013, when #15 Florida Gulf Coast University upset Georgetown and San Diego State University, out-of-state applications increased 80%. Bloomberg reported FGC’s applications increased overall by 27.5%. Such media exposure is extremely valuable.
How many elementary and middle school students do you know who seem to have decided on their first-choice university based on the college sports team they root for? It can be a child’s first attachment to a university.
But loyalty reaches far beyond those boys and girls who dream of playing a Big Ten sport. Athletics branding is a successful way to keep alumni engaged, both in spirit and when it comes to donations. What’s more, alumni athletics donors can be introduced to other forms of giving, increasing their importance to universities.
The College Experience
There’s a reason why stadiums and basketball courts have student sections. Going to games is an important part of the college experience. Student athletes aren’t the only ones drawn to specific universities because of athletic teams. According to The American Freshman Survey National Norms Fall 2012 survey, 40.2% of freshmen interviewed chose a particular college for its good reputation with regard to social activities. And let’s not forget, when rival teams play, the college experience becomes a college town experience.
Need help advertising your athletics program? We’re here for you. In fact, we recently created a TV campaign for Bowling Green State University to help increase ticket sales. Social media is an effective option, too. According to The American Freshman Survey National Norms Fall 2016 report, the proportion of incoming freshman using social media for at least six hours per week has jumped to 40.9%. Let our planning, creative and media experts create a customized game plan for you.
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