Packaging Local, Regional and National Sponsorships
(Monday, June 10, 3:00 - 4:30 p.m.)
Let me welcome you to the afternoon workshop session for NAIA. I am Greg Feris, the director of athletics at Wayland Baptist University. I am very excited about your opportunity this afternoon to hear two people that know what they're talking about with special events and championships. I'm going to introduce both of them at this time and then let them move from that point. Ms. Lynn Adams, who is the director of championships at the NAIA, will be speaking. Lynn is finishing her second year with NAIA. She was at Greenville College for 22 years before she came to the national office, as a coach, athletic administrator and probably anything else they could get her to do in those 22 years. We're very fortunate to have Lynn on our staff. She'll be speaking to you primarily from the direction of the national championships levels. Fortunately for us, she came to our meetings here in Marco just finishing a sweep of the various venues and prospective sites for our spring games that will be initiated in the 1998 academic year. You'll hear more about that at the fall convention.
Dr. Eric Forseth is the director of athletics at Northwest Nazarene College. Eric is completing 10 years at Northwest. He has some unusual credentials and will be talking to you about much of that today. His institution has hosted the last four NAIA Division II Men's National Championships in basketball. Eric does a great job. I know many of you in the audience have attended his event and know how much work and how much effort that he and his staff put in on that. This past year, he was able to negotiate a Prime Ticket television and it's a marvelous thing. Our Division II National Championship game was on television. Many positive things are coming out of that. Eric, again, will be hosting the national tournament this coming March. Without my taking up any more of their time, I will ask Eric to come to the microphone.
I want to start by saying, as far as marketing and fund raising, everybody is talking about parent burnout, teacher burnout, administrator burnout and now we're talking about all being burned out on fund raising. I had a college professor in regional design and he said he was tired of hearing all of the burnout comments. The problem with all of it is that we were never lit. Don't think you're burned out from fund raising because you're not.
To show that it takes a lot of enthusiasm to be a fund raiser, I want to share with you my Dad's enthusiasm for golf before we get started. My mother had multiple sclerosis for 25 years and she was in a wheel chair. He took care of her and was very dedicated to her. My mother recently passed away. After that, my dad took up the game of golf. In taking up the game, he developed a lot of enthusiasm for the game. His first year out, he was out with my grandfather, he hit a hole in one, the first year. He kept on having good and bad things happen to him and a lot of it at the same course. He went to another course in Denver where it sits up against the foothills, Kennedy Golf Course. He had chipped onto the green and reached in to grab the pin and walk away to set up his putt. He saw a rattlesnake in the cup. He lifted the pin up and that rattlesnake hit the pin. Luckily, it didn't hit him. He got off that green real quick and told grounds keeping to take care of that snake. On the same course, believe it or not, he's golfing the next month. He was in the middle of the fairway and got hit by lightening and they had to carry him into the clubhouse. This was the same golf course. It was very traumatic, to say the least. Same golf course, he goes back and is ready to pick up a ball he found in the rough. There was somebody over on the tee about 100 yards away. He looked up and somebody shanked the ball. It hit him right in the nose and fractured it. He was a bloody mess and had to be carried into the clubhouse. These people can't believe that he keeps coming back.
As my father has enthusiasm for golf, we also have to have enthusiasm for fund raising. You know, as well as I do, it takes five years for the average cultivation of a donor. You know that. What's that take? It takes persistence and enthusiasm to get money out of people. That's what we're going to talk about today. I want to talk about the way we make money. There's no secrets to it. We recently built new soccer fields, baseball field, parking lot, hosted an NAIA Tournament and it's because of fund raising. It's not because of anything else. I hope to turn you on and light you up on fund raising.
Here is a sample picture of our gym signage. We sell those for $1,000 a pop. You can see, it's a good mix of local, regional and national sponsorships there. You're familiar with Pepsi. They just donated a $40,000 reader board to our school and they donated the scoreboards.
Some other national companies you're familiar with are on this picture. AT&T Wireless Services have very strict codes on their logos. They make it so small you can't see it, but it's there. AT&T donated $10,000 worth of sell air time to us for the National Basketball Tournament. They donated $10,000 worth of free long distance calls for anybody in the gym that wanted to call anybody at our facility. It was crazy. You would think people would stay on the phone forever. No. They were very polite. They knew somebody else was in line and would only talk to someone at home for only five minutes. Plus, they did a tournament sponsorship for $3,000. There's a good mix of local and national sponsors. Any questions for me, up to this point? As you can see in this picture of signage in our gym, we have a selection of sponsors, Allstate, AT&T, Chevron, Dominos Pizza. The sponsors underlined in blue are regional companies. United Heritage is a national insurance company. West One Bank is a new bank in our area.
Let me see how all of this adds up to cash flow. I hope everybody has a handout which was passed out. I would also like to pass out some sample photos of our baseball field and the signage in our gym. You can see cash flow in the scoring table, press box signage, 13 signs at a $1,000 a pop. Thirteen thousand dollars. You can structure this anyway you want to. But, we make people pay for the signs we sell. Artwork usually runs about $200. Roger Smith, our women's basketball coach, has built 40 scoring tables across the country. He can build one very economically. The quote from Daktronics was $4,000 to $5,000 a table and Roger will build one at about $1,000.
We have the score board signage for $8,000. This is how our basketball program advertising breaks down. Pepsi just gives us $3,500 and want to make sure they are in each media guide. That's all they ask. United Dairyman, the milk people, give us $2,500. Our total income, just in signage and the basketball program alone for the gym is $40,000 per year. That's our average now. What do we do with this? I don't take ownership of this budget. Our sports information director does. He produces quality media guides. This is what we use to have media guides for every sport. We don't treat one sport different from another. We use this money for special sports information projects. However he wants to spend the budget is fine with me. We piggyback off each other. We feed off each other. He feeds me people. I feed him people. I know you have to have cooperation from your president and the ability to do this, but I think it's well worth it.
You ask how we generate money. We sold 70 signs. The first year, we charged $300 plus $275 printing fee. Our sign cost that much to have it outlined with the logo of the company.
Our second through the fifth year, it's just $250 per year, but at the bottom you can see 70 signs at approximately $250 each, depending upon the size of their size. We generated $17,500. Our business manager decided to carry us for the rest of the financing for this baseball field signage. Every year, we've had a 100 percent collection on this signage. He's not stressed out about it. He knows that in a couple of years, we'll have it paid off. We've tried to get a mix of local, regional and national sponsors on that too. These people have money and they want to spend it. They especially like to put it in their local communities.
One of our sponsors, Pepsi, gets a complimentary sign on the baseball field. We don't want to nickel and dime them since they are so generous in helping pay for basketball camp shirts. They hardly ever say no. I don't know how good Pepsi or Coke is to you in your area, but they're very good to work with. Inside, we use plexiglass and outside, we use metal signs. Why do we do metal? We decided to spend the money and they've lasted four years.
We hit our sponsors hard in January and February. If they aren't paid up by the first of April, we'll do a second billing. If they don't pay up, I go out and resell the sign. It hasn't been too bad. I've only had to resell signs a couple of times. We also try not to discount anything. Some of the bigger companies we hit hard have asked us to package it, but we really haven't put them together. There are no discounts. Companies like to pay before December 31 or after January 1. They like the ability to pay before or after, but for some reason, January and February are a good time to do this in our area. That might not be true for another area. The economy is good too.
Here's a sample of our guide for the national tournament. How do we put this together? Micron gave us computers. For four or five days straight, we hire students to type it up and then proof it the next day. We go through about three, four or five drafts. That's how we produce that tournament program. We really want it to be first class. We want people to see it and we want to do what's right for the NAIA. Our sports information director deserves a lot of credit for that. We do all of the typesetting. The printing company does a scan for us and it's not any hassle. People have to bring us camera-ready artwork.
How much do you think it costs for a program like this? It costs about $8,000 and I think it's a good price. We have a printer broker in our area. This guy goes around and shops for the best prices he could get. He does not have any printing equipment in his company. We give him what we want to be printed. He goes out and brokers it. He gets people to bid against each other. He has built an unbelievable business as a printer broker in our area.
I'm not going to read all this to you. I think we could do a better job in the NAIA on trying to sell national sponsorships. We tried to sell a national title sponsor and we tried to sell this to Pepsi, West One Bank and State Farm Insurance. We weren't able to squeeze them as much as we wanted to. We struggled with Albertson because we didn't know enough about them. We should have done better with them than we did. West One Bank was going through their transition. They weren't too comfortable with it. We were close with Pepsi. I feel strongly we could have closed the deal if we could throw in a sports beverage.
This is what AT&T asked me to send to them. This is a short summary of what they've done for us. We sell them six tournament passes. Our tournament passes are $80 for 31 games. We give them four Tip-Off Banquet tickets. That's $20 per ticket. Two honorary coach positions are given to them. When they hear about sitting on the team benches, they love it. We give them 10 regular season tickets for any game they want. We print up regular season tickets that say, good for any regular season game. They like those, especially when we might play a rival down the road. We give them a pricing for $1,000 to be a tournament sponsor. We don't trade any money with our television people. They give us $3,000 worth of television time for commercials. We don't give them any cash for these commercials. That's really helped us with ticket sales. We have four television stations in our area so, we get $12,000 free television commercials. We also get $10,000 free print advertising. We sell opening ceremonies to AT&T for $3,000. They like to have their name out there. They must have a lot of advertising money.
The only way you can get sponsorships is to know that people give to people. I asked the marketing manager to go hunting. I went with him and one thing led to another and we got a package. AT&T gave us a cell phone with $50 comp time on this phone. They gave us 15 to 17 loaner phones for the three weeks of the national tournament. That was worth about $10,000. They gave us general public access phones for one week. You can dial long distance anywhere in the country. They gave us a whole sponsorship for a golf tournament we put on. They also do baseball field sign advertising and gym sign advertising. That's just an example of our package with AT&T.
Here's a sample of our tournament sponsors we had for a national tournament. You can see that anywhere from national firms are there to local firms. One of these is very interesting. Please look at a local M.D. He said he liked the NAIA tournament so much, I want to give $3,000 to it and you can count on his support for as long as we have the tournament. Strange things like that happen all of the time. A guy came into my office and dropped a $3,000 check on my desk. This was totally unsolicited. Mountain View Heating Company is a small heating company out of Oregon who just wanted to be a tournament sponsor. Ore Ida is a national firm who wanted to be a sponsor.
Last, but not least, are some of the activities we do with the tournament sponsors. These people really have shown an extra bit of care for our student-athletes when they come to the area. I don't think it's been an abusive relationship at all. They've been interested and they've stayed in touch. They've gone and visited the other people's NAIA campuses. They build lifelong relationships with our NAIA people. They take them fishing. They've hosted dinners at their homes. We recently built a recreation center in our town with three basketball courts and eight swimming pools. The kids just love to go to that. Student-athletes think it's great.
The souvenirs and gifts people give them aren't extravagant, but it's been nice. One company minted them a medallion for the tournament with their team on it. It was a very innovative idea and something they'll keep for the rest of their lives. Some people will give them a jacket. Sponsors are very supportive of our teams. One of them made a logo watch with their company and gave them to our players. It's a nice momentum from the tournament.
That's all I have unless you have any questions. I'm going to turn this over to Lynn.
Our events bring people in our community together, they turn them on. Eric can tell you about the experiences about the teams and what the teams do to the communities and how the community comes together to put on an event like a national championship. It is the most exciting thing to realize you're a part of this event that influences the lives of our athletes so much. What we have to remember is that it takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of hard work to make that happen. And, as Eric has alluded to, a lot of big dollars.
Our responsibility is to our association, so most of our sponsorship dollars go to the overall running of the association. We have very few corporate sponsors that come on board for sport-specific events. We find it very difficult to sell an event to a company when they would like to be involved in all events. We have, at the present time, one company that's onboard with us and that's Sprint. They sponsor the women's golf championship. They have, over the years, also sponsored men's and women's soccer. They're a title sponsor, so therefore, they give to that event and we call it the NAIA Sprint Championship. We do not have any other corporate sponsors that do that because all of the other ones would like to be involved in more than one of our championships. Again, we sell as an association, so it's a little bit difficult for us.
We rely on great hosts like Eric. He has just shared with you a lot of his great ideas. That is one of our premier sites. You just can't beat it. When we tell everybody about our championships, we always use Eric and his situation as a model, as we do Jackson, Tennessee for our women's Division I championship.
What great experiences! But, I can tell you it takes a lot of hard work and Eric really beats down a lot of doors of a lot of people in order for that to take place. We try to help out and we give guidance. When Eric first took on this venture, he was in contact with our office. Bill Patterson and the marketing department would go and work with him. We have a disadvantage in that we don't know those local people. The best contacts are the people themselves right there at the site. Eric is able to do a lot more for his event than what we can ever do for our event, if we were the ones who had to go to his community and solicit those types of funds.
Obviously, the gate is going to help on those funds, but nothing can do the job that a sponsor can do. Pulling in the sponsors then, is a tough one for us to answer questions about as far as how do we do it and what do we do? It really depends on the host. We leave a lot of that to them. Again, we then act as a service to them and we help them work through some ideas, but the actual contacts are up to them.
I'm not in marketing. I don't do the marketing. I don't go out and sell the sponsorships for the championship events. Bill Patterson will be addressing you next year at the Convention and I know he'll have a lot more answers for you on that than I have at this time. I'd like to tell you that we have a great product to sell. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we have a great event. We look at it as only another championship, something else to do. I try to go out and solicit communities and institutions who want to host this. First question they ask me is, "How much is this going to cost me?" I try to delay that as long as possible. I say to them that it's not what it costs you, but what you're going to get out of it. "Oh, you mean all of those extra nights of working and the time I put in is what I'm going to get out of it?" No, you're going to get a lot more than that.
I try to sell them on the fact that this can give back to the community as much as the community puts into it. Eric has alluded several times that he gets from the community. What do you give back to the community? Well, you give them signage and that's what the donor wants to see. A lot of individuals want to see what kind of advantages they can get back from this championship as far as the personal touch, not just the financial ramifications. We can guarantee they are going to interact with students that have their acts together. I can't always say that about every group of young people we see. We know from our experiences with our athletes that we're going to give them a product that says these are quality young people. When they come to your town or to your campus, they're going to be a model for you. You're going to really enjoy getting to know them and interacting with them. Because of your dedication to them, you're going to benefit from your work among the community and amongst the other members of your committees.
We're selling a big project here as we prepare for the spring championship games. Spring championship games are going to take place in 1998. It's going to happen. We have been on the road for the last couple of weeks talking to several committees. We have had a process in which we have identified four communities right now that we feel to be top notch communities that can handle this size of event. We are going to pursue those four communities, and I'm not at liberty to tell you who they are right now, so they're not in competition with one another right now. But, we are talking with them, sitting down at the table with them and saying here's what we have to have. Here's what we're going to give you. I'm selling them on our athletes, not how much money we're going to bring to their community. I'm going to sell them on the fact we're bringing great athletes to their city.
I'm going to sell them on something that's unique to the NAIA. We're going to give back to your community on our Super Sunday, which we're calling it, because of all that's going on, banquets, opening and closing ceremonies, etc. We're going to come in as athletes, coaches and officials and give clinics to your young people. These are free clinics and one-day sessions. Go and learn how to pitch a softball by the top eight pitchers in the country. Go in and learn how to hit a baseball the right way. Go and hit with one of our tennis players. Go and get a quick golf lesson from one of our great golfers. Umpires, we're going to have a little clinic for you. If you're involved in high school or Little League umpiring and you want some tips on how to do it, there's going to be an umpire's clinic. We're going to give back to the community. That turns them on. Immediately, I can work with them now. They're willing to work with me when they know there's going to be something we're going to give back to them besides just the dollars. Obviously, the dollars are very important to them.
With the spring championship games, we're finding that, obviously, we're going to have to work with more communities rather than the individual institutions that we have been working with. In the past, we take our sites to individual institutions. They know who we are. They have a vested interest in that. It's really easy to get them on board. With communities, with eight championships, we've got to have more than one campus. So, we're finding communities coming out of the woodwork wanting to do this.
There's a movement afoot right now that says every community of any size has to have a sports commission. It started out about five years ago and we see about seven or eight sports commissions across the country. Now, they have 71 active members right now and by next year, they'll probably double, if not triple that number. That's how fast they're growing as an association. They're looking for events. What we have to do is get the good word out.
We can't do that all ourselves at the national office. We're relying on a lot of you to do that. It starts at the conference level. Don't be afraid to go out and contact a community to host your event. Take that conference tournament, put it at a neutral site and let a community take over. I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of it as much as anyone, when I have an event or when I'm in charge, I like to stay in charge. It's got to be mine. I put it in my hip pocket and say I'll do it all. Well, as commissioners and athletic directors, sometimes we have to let go of those kinds of things. I would venture to say that if you took a chance and said to your community, "Here's a chance for you to get involved and for you to step up to the plate. How about if you run our conference tournament?" We'll come in and provide the same kind of guidance. We give you a professional aspect of it and we'll tell you how many games, the times or who's going to play what. We'll do all of those things for you just like a games committee does now for our national championship. But, sell that event to the community and then step back and let them take hold of that. I guarantee you that once they've had one experience with it, they'll come back for another one. Wouldn't it be nice if every conference tournament that we had, every sectional tournament, every regional tournament was modeled after what we had experienced at the national level. That is, with all of the sponsorships, with all the hoopla that goes along with it, with all of the personal contacts, the honorary coaches' program and all the little benefits, can all be done if we're willing to go out and work the communities.
Spread the word by getting other communities involved. Let them know about our national championships. The best way to get information out is word of mouth. You tell someone. Someone else tells someone and the word gets out there. We have several sites right now that were strictly word of mouth. Sites we didn't have a clue about a few years ago and all of a sudden they're coming on board big time. Sport is a major part of a community's economy and they now realize the importance of it and they want to sell it. We're experiencing that right now, and hopefully, this will help us open some more doors that we haven't been able to open in the past.
As far as the national office and what we're doing with our sponsorships, we are trying, again, to gain sponsorships in areas that will do something for all championships or the association in general. We are working with Pepsi at the local level in Tulsa right now and have a good foot in the door. We feel that will open up some doors for national sponsorships. That's something we're working on. Sprint has come on board with us and what a great company they are to work with. The money they have poured into our championships is wonderful and they are continuing to do that. They may take us in a little
different direction, but they're going to continue to work with us in that way. Because of American Airlines, some of our host institutions have been able to go to their local American reps and say you're our national sponsor, would you like to come on board with our event. They have. So, locally, they're coming on board with some help with tickets, etc. The same way with Thrifty working on them with cars and we've worked with Shelter Insurance and we've worked with State Farm. We have some connections there. I know they're not as large as what you'd like us to have. I understand that and we understand that at the national office. We work hard to get those up and we can always use more help in identifying those people and then trying to get them on board.
The number one sale is our athletes. Sometimes we try to sell the event and not our athletes. We have to sell the athletes and what they can do. Eric told me when he asked me to do this, I told him I'm not in marketing now and I can't do this. He told me to just give you an overview of what's going on, so my best overview is that we do have a good product. We have great championships. Bill will answer all questions for you in the fall when it comes to marketing. I will be glad to answer questions about championships and how we work with them.
Questions from the floor were inaudible.