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Feb. 8, 2012

By Meaghan Brooks, Director of Group Sales and Fan Development (University of Oklahoma)

NACMA Online Library Blog - Ever thought about giving away a funeral package during a game? What about having fans pull gummy worms out of buckets of whipped cream using only their mouths during a time out? Giant hamster ball races perhaps? Star Wars Night? Or how about covering your entire venue with t-shirts as a giveaway item? Don't worry, you aren't alone. I may have started out my career in MiLB where zany and outrageous was the name of the game and as part of our signing bonus, we all got copies of Marketing Outrageously and were told to use these as our marketing bibles, but our end goal was always the same as it is in my current position in college athletics: fill your venues with fans, keep them entertained, and keep them wanting more so they will keep coming back.

Nothing was off limits when it came to being on the cutting edge of the next new promotion or in game entertainment piece during those whirlwind days of interning in the MiLB and that same mentality still holds true now. We all want to come up with the next great promotional giveaway or in-game element that makes fans buy tickets, fill our venues, and scratch their heads while witnessing these awe inspiring (or sometimes completely backfiring) events thinking: "Who are these marketing gurus and how did we get so lucky to have them?" I'd be lying if I didn't say these crazy ideas still didn't rear their little heads during our weekly marketing meetings to which I do get some blank stares and I'm sure some thoughts about what planet I truly reside on, especially when I asked if we could give away a funeral at a basketball game this season. Hey, if it sold out a baseball stadium for one team I worked for, why wouldn't it sell out a basketball arena, right? The point is that we are thinking outside of the box on how to bring our fans in to fill our arenas to support our student athletes and generate revenue.

Not everything you do has to be completely out there or blow your marketing budget to pieces. You can involve your sponsors by having them assist with costs if, for example, you want to cover your entire stadium or arena with t-shirts to promote a "Cheer Like A Champion" game. It's a great giveaway for your fans and great exposure for your sponsors, a win win combo! If giveaways aren't your idea of a good time, utilize what you have in-game to draw your fans in and keep them coming back. Have a dance contest with your fans, team up with your local restaurateur to sponsor an on court eating promotion during a time out (hot wings are our faves), or pile layers of t-shirts on one of your interns and have them run around your venue tearing them off to throw at fans. Your video board can also be one of your best allies to showcase contests, spotlight the great works your team or staff are doing in and around your community, or make your student athletes relatable to your fans by featuring them singing your school's alma matter and showing the outtakes for example. Whatever it is you decide to do to enhance your game day, do it with purpose and passion and don't be afraid to be a bit zany!

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About NACMA: NACMA is the first organization of its kind to provide educational and networking opportunities; enhancement of acceptable operating standards and ethics; and establishment of the overall prestige and understanding of the profession of athletics marketing administrators. For more information about NACMA, please visit www.nacma.com. NACMA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 47th year. For more information on NACDA and the 12 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.