5 Reasons â€śBranding & Marketingâ€ť Is Now More Important Than Ever In High School Athletics
Aug 6, 2019
by Doug Sirek
Sports branding and marketing has been of critical importance at the professional and collegiate level for decades. As we enter the 2019 school year, let's look at five reasons (and there are many more) why it should now be viewed as critical for high school athletics and activities.
In short, branding should be viewed as the “consistent message” the school wants to send out to the students, the parents and families, the alumni, the administration and more important than ever, the general community and business community surrounding the high school. It should represent the core values of the school and surrounding community to give all stakeholders a reason to become fans and supporters of the program. Likewise, marketing is the actual communication that is sent out to the stakeholders with a purpose in mind.
This has often been limited to parent meetings, logos, uniforms and spirit wear. While an important part of it, branding and marketing is so much more. Today, with newsletters, social media and all web communication, it is critical that a “consistent message” of the schools brand be at the forefront.
Sports and activities are the #1 driver for school spirit. Getting student body and administration support is often easier for the major sports, yet successful schools are able to achieve a high level of achievement across all sports and activities. Creating a greater atmosphere of strong school spirit encourages strong school support at all levels.
Community support is critical to a successful program. Creating a “brand” viewed as supportive of the community is obviously going to “receive” more than those programs not involved in the community. Part of a school's brand should involve community service and support. The more visible the kids and coaches are in supporting the community, the more support the community will provide in return—financially, in attendance and even at those critical “referendum” times when community support is critical.
Today, finding sponsorship/financial support from the local business community is more important than ever and is often more competitive than ever. The business community views those sponsorship dollars as an “investment in the kids” and you increase your opportunity to get greater financial support if they “perceive” your programs as professional and successful.
Again, alumni financial support should be an important part of your fundraising strategy. Your brand should be modern, yet should never lose the history and tradition set forth by those alumni from prior years. Celebrating the history of your programs also builds a sense of pride for those who participate today...a tradition that every coach can motivate and build upon with today's participants.
Volunteers are essential to any successful program. Communication and messaging to the parent and families is critical to a successful brand, which encourages parents to participate at the appropriate levels.
As we enter the 2019 school year, the budget challenges of high school athletics and activities are obviously not getting easier. Yet, with proper planning and a more modern approach, these challenges can lead to new, sustainable opportunities. If you have not started, it is not too late…but it is time to begin to find those new opportunities. Without a doubt, the long-term solutions to sky rocketing costs and the budget cuts will need an up-to-date, more modern game plan.
Doug Sirek is a Direct Marketing/Print Executive turned entrepreneur