By Rich Lisk
For most of us in small budget minor league teams, building a brand sounds like a daunting task conjuring up images of high powered advertising agencies and glossy marketing proposals. With no budget for brand marketing, many of us forego strategic branding or really don’t give it much thought at all – big mistake. Branding gives you the opportunity to get people to feel and think a certain way about your team. Branding can be worked into your ticket campaign, sponsorship packages and public relations. Building a brand is crucial to your team’s long term sustainability and really is not all that hard once you break it down. Below are my six steps:
1. Set Goals
What do you want your brand to say about you? What do you want to accomplish with your brand? What does your brand stand for? Ask yourself these questions and identify what is important to you. In our business, of minor league sports remember one very important thing — Will this message for my brand help me sell tickets or sponsorships? Everything we do must have a sales component to it and relay a message of sales. Tweet this. So answer questions and set goals with sales in mind.
2. Make you brand valuable
Make sure to continually let your customers (sponsors, partners and ticket holders) know the value of what you provide them – something that they can’t get anyplace else. Identify what that is: good competition, affordability, great atmosphere, exclusivities, or great customer service, etc. and convey this message often and in clear way. Basically give them ownership and feel part of the brand. Convince your customers it is their team and your fans and partners will become emotionally attached ultimately strengthening your brand. Tweet this.
3. Be Different
Different is good. Find out what the others in your market are doing and what they’re offering and be different. Do and offer more. Identify your niche and sell it. Ask yourself what can we offer, what can we do that is different? Tweet this.
4. Deliver One Message
What do you want to convey? What do you want people to think about your team? Create a campaign that serves as the central theme for all of your communications. Talk to your staff, owners or a small focus group. Hash out what they need and want and what you need and want. Argue, dissect and argue more and then when you gather all the information put it down in writing. Check it against what your goals for your brand are. Massage it some more and then and only then — deliver one message. Tweet this.
5. Get People Talking
Put your stamp everywhere – on the bottom of your emails, on the media package, on your letterhead. Do promotions and PR stunts. Make up buttons and shirts and hats with your brand on it. Do festivals, street fairs and community events and plaster your message everywhere. Every time you pick up the phone use your message. This will take some time to get used to, but you want to create repetition so it comes easy and isn’t forced. It’s the process that builds the brand and becomes the fabric of your team. Tweet this.
6. Most important OVER DELIVER
Under Promise – Over Deliver. Deliver more than what you promise. Make sure your brand means something and then add to it. Tweet this. In this economy and with a customer’s limited budget, you need to over deliver. Greet them at the door when they walk into the arena and say thank you on the way out and hand them a piece of candy. Copy their ad and deliver it to them in person. Put their name on the score board. Show up at their seats, randomly, and say hi and thank you.
Just because we don’t have the big budgets doesn’t mean we can’t build a successful brand. In the minor leagues we simply have to work harder, more efficiently and with fewer resources than our big brothers in the major leagues, but we can enjoy the same results.