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INTRODUCTION Today’s athletic directors are faced with complex financial problems including dwindling resources, attendance fluctuations, found-raising campaigns, and competition for the consumer’s entertainment dollar. Nowhere else are these concerns more evident than among Division 1 football programs through out the US. To be able to confront these growing concerns, an athletic director will need to have an effective strategic marketing plan. A properly formulated marketing plan is the end product of a systematic planning process that involves the development of marketing objectives, marketing opportunities, marketing environment threats and resources. Historically marketing plans were developed primarily but large profit driven firms. However, today many athletic departments are relaying on marketing plans to assist in their development efforts. When properly implemented, the strategic marketing plan offers a collegiate sports organization a systematic approach to become more market oriented I its day-to-day operations. For some time now the Minnesota football program had needed en effective marketing plan to positions itself as a stable competitive program. The opportunities for exposure and revenue are available but have not yet been tapped due to minimal resources.

Problem Statement

The purpose of this Senior Project is to support the implementations of a strategic marketing plan for the Gophers Football program. A strategic marketing plan can assist the program’s effort to positions the team as one of the premier program in the Big 10 conference. Other goal included is improving the image of the program and increasing future attendance, which will ultimately produce larger revenue for both the football program but also other programs in the athletic department, which are not a revenue sport.

Every program at a university is critical to the success of the athletic department in that they provide athletes from all social backgrounds and cultures the opportunity to compete in the sports they desire. My intent with this plan is that both the football team and the athletic department will benefit from this senior project. With an effective social marketing plan, the department can set a strategic path in obtaining its goals for the football program. Compared with other years, there will be a strong sense of direction and consistency with social media.  

It is important to find three principles that we could keep in mind as we created a marketing plan for the Gophers football team. If the Gophers new marketing and my social media plan have common principles, both plans will have the same tone. The first word we decided was HONESTY, we wanted to be transparent, treat fans with respect and understand their point of view. Second word was COMMUNITY. It was important for us to facilitate the team-to-fan relationship that empowers the fans world. The last word was PIONEER. We always have to seek new truths and question conventional wisdom.  

FANS SOCIAL MEDIA HABBITS “We no longer control our brand – it is being shaped by our customers in social media with or without us, so we must engage with them to protect and enhance the brand.”

Social media is usergenerated content on the Internet. It’s created with free or inexpensive technology, is easy to update, and can reach a niche audience or millions. It can be mere words in a blog, but also user-generated videos, photos, and audio. It can be interactive with unfiltered comments from visitors. And as usergenerated content, it does away with controls associated with traditional media – and most of all, it removes the need for big media.”

“We no longer control our brand – it is being shaped by our customers in social media with or without us, so we must engage with them to protect and enhance the brand.” Social media is where our communities are shifting their attention; we ignore them at our peril. If we delay our entry too long we risk being left behind by our customers and our competitors. We need to be where our audience are, as we can see our audience are presence in social media, therefore it is imperative for the gophers football team to heavily engage in this community.


BRAND HUMANIZING Historically, fan interaction with athletes was well through planned, controlled environments or accidental. The chances to meet were typically not authentic in nature. Fans could visit a team, league or athletes website and read statistic content, maybe send an email or post a message board. The important part about fans is that they feel an ‘ownership’ in their sports affiliation and want to be hear, any good relationship is about listening and that

The athlete and team, in essence becomes a media property and content platform. The team can give people a transparent real-time peek at behind the sense activities; this creates an emotional bond with the fans. This provides the athletes and the team a safe way to interact in their own voice with fans to share what is on their mind or to listen and learn from others perspectives, and it makes them more accessible. It’s a great way to build up goodwill with the gopher football fans in case of bad game days. Creating and atomizing content is a great method to create exclusive and original multi-media content via text, video, photos, and auto and dissemination that via various web-based content sharing such as applications, platforms RSS feeds, widgets, video and photo sharing platforms and social networks.

is what the Gophers need to keep in mind in their interaction through social media. Now the social web has created a renaissance of authentic athlete and fan interaction. Teams and athletes are lifting the veil of stardom and are becoming more transparent, authentic and ‘real’ to their fans through the use of social media. Fans need to get a peek behind the gophers ‘celebrity aura’ and get the chance to be ‘friends’ with the team

Authentic Interactions is important because it’s the opposite of contrived, forced or veiled interactions. People these days can see through planned interaction, in addition to weather or not the athlete or team is the actual driver behind the social dialogue. The real currency in the social-sphere is authenticity. But its important to keep in mind that you will wither be rewarded or strung up for your level of authenticity.

KEEP THE BRAND ALIVE 1. Create Access Give access to the fans behind the scenes. Open up the looker room and give them a peek. Make them feel they are on the inside and that they can only get this exclusive content from the gophers.

2. Teat them as partners Treat the fans and the customers as the face of the Gophers. Moved beyond conversing with fans on social networks to co-creating content, even products and promotions with them.

3. Reach out to key individuals Show the fans that you care when they communicate with you. Re-tweet and comment back on face book to key individuals so they feel special. This makes it more likely for them to comment again and for others to also communicate

4. Put your fans to work Making your fans take pictures and create content is a great way to keep social networks alive. By promoting them to do so they create free content for you and others see that people are engaging. This makes it more likely for other to engage as well.

5. Be Present Show the fans that you are present in the community and show other activities the players are engaging in out side of football. Helps them look more human and fans can relate to them.

6. Be open to debate and mistakes People periodically argue, likewise, a brand should be willing to engage in public debate. Be open to say you made a mistake. Do not hide anything, it will come out in social media. Hiding it can be worse and create a social media storm that can be a huge problem and hard to fix.

7. Get  creative   Be  spontaneous  and  be  creative  with  it,  the  less   “staged”  it  is  the  more  real  it  is  for  the  fans.    

S ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Plenty of existing content. A social media savvy marketing manager. Already have twitter, facebook and Youtube. Great Youtube channel with frequent updates. New contract with a production company. Encourages people to follow them socially.

Faceboook and Twitter had low numbers of followers. Infrequent updates on Facebook and Twitter Infrequent updates on fan page Poor quality of the conversation Non social media campaign engaged Facebook tabs infrequently used such as photos, videos and forums Do not replay often to other fan tweets or Facebook comments.

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Humanizes the ‘brand’ and makes the recruitment process more personal. Competitors not undertaking social media. Developing a following/ audience that auto-nurtures itself Recruitment of interested new team members or students. Great opportunity for fans and organizations to connect and exchange content.

Senior management not convinced by social media NCAA governs the type of messages the gophers can broadcast Hasty comments or messages from the team or athletes on the team can hurt the brand and create a negative social media storm


ENGANGMENT PLANNING By planning how fans or customers are engaged in social channels you ensure that a common tone and style is used whoever replies on Gophers behalf. Engagement planning involves: ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Agreeing a tone of voice Developing engagement policy Identifying internal social media champions Planning the social media workload Social media maturity plan

Engagement planning still needs to be discussed with the Gophers. The tone of voice determines the way that fans and followers are spoken to in social channels. Another important part that will be on the Gophers shoulders is identifying internal social media companions. The social media champions are those individuals within the gopher’s organization who are responsible for taking part in social media activity. WEEKLY CONTENT PLAN The content plan defines the type of content that the gophers will post to social media channels, how it will be used and when it should be used. It will be governed by various factors including:

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Existing content types The client’s business (technical firms will usually benefit from blogs) The client’s customer base (will they prefer video content to text?) The campaign theme (is it to educate or entertain?)

An example content plan might be: ▪ Blogging used for technical articles ▪ Video used for educational purposes ▪ Facebook for promoting new blogs and videos ▪ Twitter to break down blog articles into 140 character tweets.

Gopher DEN  

Strategic Social Media Plan

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