How big a part of your game day experience is the marching band? Do you have a marching band? If your program does not have a marching band, do everything you can to figure out and get a band put together. I’ll go into further detail below about the relationship between your athletics program and the marching band.
Disclosure – I was in the marching band in both high school and college. I’ve also worked in athletics for more than 7 years as a professional.
If your program has a marching band, and this goes for professional organizations as well, you should do everything you can to take care of the band. Do whatever you can for them. Make sure they get the team shirt or student shirt in the right sizes. Buy them pizza every once in a while. Take them to away games. Help them out with backstage passes whenever you can.
In many ways those people are your most loyal fans and always will be. At most places, it’s a privilege to be able to play in a marching band and at even more places band members must PAY to play. That’s right – they pay to be able to play in the band. At most schools it’s likely the music program is either under funded or not funded at all and the band must be able to support itself. They do that by either charging the members a fee or dues to play or do a ridiculous number of fundraisers in order to make ends meet.
Now, more about the people. They’re a diverse, mixed group of people who love music and love sports just as much. No one in the marching band that I’ve ever known did it because they had to. Maybe there were some family pressures to keep playing for a while, but eventually those ones weed out and all you get are the die-hards who love being there for your team.
They know team spirit.
They know how to pump up a crowd.
They usually know what music gets people fired up.
They know how to perform in sync with the team on the field to get the best possible energy going depending on what is going on.
They don’t stop and keep the same energy from pre-game to post-game.
Band members are also the unique group of people who demonstrate all of the same values as your athletes. Sacrifice. Dedication. Teamwork. Perseverance. Motivation. Reliance. Yes, I do think very highly of people who give up alot of their time in order to perform and give back to the teams and organizations they love.
The suggestions I’ve mentioned above are only a few ways you can thank the band and encourage them to do what they do. For the most part they are a group of high integrity, so give them a good leader and let them do what they do best – entertain and motivate. The small investment you make in them in the short term can equal much greater returns in the future. Let me explain.
Band reunions – band members are a close bunch of people and will likely show up in huge numbers when you invite them back to campus to thank them for what they did when they were part of your organization. ($$$) Invite them to bring their instruments with and bridge the gap between past and present. Think group sales and a theme night depending on how many alumni you have from the band and what sports you have.
Season ticket sales – like I said above, marching band members are sports fans. If you’ve helped them out as students and showed your appreciation FIRST (yes, you have to take care of them before they care of you), they will be much more likely to be season ticket holders for your sports teams. Make the relationships with the band staff strong from the beginning and these connections will work themselves out in the long run.
Band merchandise – most bands see themselves as a family. And the band members’ families consider themselves a part of the family too. Set up a website with drop-ship type merchandise sales, if not year round in your team store (even if only seasonal around the beginning of your season and around the holidays), and sell them stuff with your team logo and “band” on there somewhere classy. Band members are proud of what they do and so are their families. They will buy that stuff and so with their parents and grandparents. With the internet the way it is and the relationships you already have with your apparel manufacturers this shouldn’t be a problem. If you can’t seem to justify the cost with a big bookstore type presence, find a local apparel/marketing company and get them to do this for you online. Be consistent and maybe enlist the band to do it themselves with your blessing. This is a huge potential revenue source.
Ambassadors – band members are a large group of people who are avid, passionate fans of your team – engage them and encourage them to be fans all the time. When they are in uniform, what better way to spread the good message of what your team is all about? Teach them your values and encourage them to connect with your community members both on campus and off. There is strength in numbers and the more people you have out there advocating for your brand the better.
Bottom line – take care of the band and they’ll take care of you. Just a thought.
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