You may not have realized it but your athletes are your greatest ambassadors! Your athletes are the what makes your program attractive to fans and without them, you’d have nothing. In exchange for the education, salary and benefits you offer them, engage them in your marketing and sales process. The possibilities for how this could turn out are endless, though the arrangements ought to be mutually agreeable.
First – the why. Why would you want your athletes involved in your marketing? Easy – because they are more than just athletes and the more personal they become to your fans, the more personal your fans will become with your team and organization. Everything in sports is about personal connections with your fans. We’ve all felt this and have discussed it in the past when we answered the question “why do people like sports?” For many, it’s because of the community, the team spirit, the becoming part of something greater than one’s self. By involving the core of that connection, your athletes, you are solidifying your fans’ reasons for being there in the first place. You’re effectively giving them exactly what they want…at least in terms of what you can control.
Next – the how. How might you involve your athletes in your sales and marketing? Well, one way would be to have them record the wait message on your main ticket sales and telephone line. “Hey there Niners fans, this is Joe Montana, hall of fame quarterback – thanks for calling. Someone will be with you shortly to take your ticket order and to answer your questions.” Update this regularly and at certain distinct times of the year…the off-season comes to might as a nice way to tell fans thank you for their support and that the team is looking forward to seeing them next season. Of course in that situation be mindful of any off-field issues that might make this a sensitive topic – contract issues and transfers or graduation from school.
You could also have them record a voicemail type message to send to your ticket holders’ cell phones with important announcements. I’ve had calls from coaches in the past asking fans to arrive to the game early, especially when much anticipated opponents are in town.
If you have a big sponsorship pitch coming up soon and plan on involving a few athlete appearances as part of the agreement, have them show up to meet your future clients. If the athlete has expressed interest in going into business after retirement from sports or graduation from college, this could be a great mutually beneficial relationship. This might also be a great way to involve graduating senior student-athletes for whom NCAA compliance issues are no longer a concern.
Yet another easy way to involve your athletes in your sales and marketing could be to simply get them on camera in front of a green screen. You can have them act out “pump up” or “make noise” motions to play during your game time outs. You could also record them reading your public service announcements (PSAs) that run during pre-game warmups. By making fan conduct a personal issue and by putting the faces of your team on the screen, this is yet another touch point and connection your fans will have with their favorite players down on the field and on the court. Those little things really do make a difference and go a long way toward encouraging personal connections with fans. This is perhaps one disadvantage the games of football, hockey and lacrosse have that others don’t – you can’t see their faces at all times.
So how are you using your athletes as ambassadors now? How might you consider involving your athletes in your sales and marketing moving forward? Consider these tips and offer any other ideas you have below in the comments. You can also sign up for instant updates to your inbox!