Playing The Field
The old college try
Like minor leagues, colleges are another large point of interest for sports promotions. They have their unique demographics and needs just as minor-league teams do, but with an additional caveat. Most colleges not only require athletic promotions to advocate for a particular sport, but also use them as a means to promote the institution as a whole. As a result, there are going to be multiple departments within the school with parts of their budgets set aside for marketing.
“Alumni departments tend to have money to spend,” said Langer. “They’re looking for ways to reach out to their alumni, and sports is a big part of that because alumni come back for games … and that ties them to the school long after they graduate.” Langer explained that alumni outreach is important for a university or college because its ranking is partially dependent on what percentage of graduates continue to donate to the university, making alumni relations an important point for the recruitment of new students. He mentioned other areas where schools may have open budgets, like prospective student recruitment or gift shops, and cautioned that said budgets are going to vary from school to school. “At the university level, it’s getting to know everybody,” said Langer. “There’s a process, and the advice I can give is know who’s the decision maker, know who has budget to spend.”
Little big leagues
Sports leagues that are perhaps largest in number are those of high-school and youth-recreation teams. They can also be a complex market, existing as a mix of elements from the professional, college and minor-league worlds, as well as having needs all their own. For example, in some ways, youth teams mirror the professional world, like with the popularity of football. “I think that football, at any high school, anywhere in the country, is always kind of a rallying point for school spirit,” said Kippie Helzel, vice president of sales at CPS/Keystone, Erie, Pa., adding, “I think there’s a lot of booster effort around football, it probably has the highest visibility of any given sports team, in any given market.”