Can content marketing transform your company, elevate your brand and start new conversations that cause prospects to take notice? It did for a football team. And the recruiting process for high school football players or for customers that need your capabilities is more similar than you think. Here’s why.
Full disclosure. I’m a Boilermaker.
There are numerous reasons. Poor coaching hires and facilities that paled in comparison to more prominent programs. But, as with any sport at any level, it takes talent to elevate success. And their inability to attract talent was striking. Fortunately, in 2017, they hired a new coach and invested in additional resources.
But the real transformation wasn’t just the coaching staff and new facilities. Instead, it was a marketing makeover. One that created an image, generated a buzz that elevated fan interest and attracted potential recruits.
Did their marketing cause the program improvement? At the risk of drawing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, the answer is yes.
As a sales and marketing lifer and a longtime Boilermaker booster, the marketers tipped the scale. And, you don’t have to be a football fan or coach to follow similar steps that will elevate your business.
Effective Marketing Starts With Consistent Branding
Purdue had an established brand and logo. So, their investment centered on using it consistently in promotional materials, in high traffic locations within their facilities, on buildings and more. Plus, they used it in creative new ways to elevate it further.
For example, when extending a scholarship to a recruit, they sent out the actual offers as letters folded to look like paper footballs. As the recruit opens the letter, each panel features a different picture of the player, with a note from the Purdue coach.
They complemented the printed piece with companion digital communications using unique animations and videos. Plus, they included several elements linked to Purdue traditions including the campus bell tower, engineering fountain, and astronauts going to the Moon. Click here to see the animation.
Here’s what happened. The recruits shared it with their friends and because the images ranked high in the "coolness" factor, the shares multiplied. Suddenly, players that didn’t have Purdue on their radar were checking out West Lafayette, Indiana. You might say they started to crowdsource recruiting.
Here’s What You Can Do
Be aspirational. Is where you are today good enough? If not, embrace the impact effective branding creates for organizations that deploy it effectively.
If you haven’t considered a brand update recently, then breath life into your existing concept or revise it entirely. With websites and other digital channels, a logo that worked well in print might not work well online. So, make sure it works seamlessly on all materials.
Then, use it consistently on all materials. From email signatures, packaging and delivery vehicles and everything in between. In the face of relentless competition from traditional and non-traditional sources, your brand is more than a catchy design or tagline, it is an important differentiator. Make sure to integrate your traditions. Do you have a long history, connections to your community or other things you are known for?
Next, create a unique experience. When you have visitors, a plant tour or a press check, do something out of the ordinary. Develop a template that shows off your brand and design expertise. Send a printed piece that accentuates your printing and finishing capabilities. And follow up further in electronic form. It will reinforce your multichannel capabilities and make it easy for them to share their experience with associates.
Your Prospects Are Not High School Football Players But…
NCAA recruiting rules prohibit teams from publishing offers on social media, however, it’s acceptable for the athletes to do so. Because the unique and creative graphics stood out to the athletes, they rebroadcast them through their own social media channels thereby extending the reach of the Purdue brand. And, it brought attention to the program to others that weren’t aware or previously interested.
Your customers aren’t high school student-athletes, but using unique images, GIFs and other graphics will differentiate you to prospects and will likely result in the further distribution of the cool things you’re doing.
The Purdue football team’s target audience consists of a few hundred athletes sprinkled across the high school landscape. They recruit nationally but focus heavily within the Midwest. As they define their roster needs and position fit, the targets narrow to a few dozen with the ultimate goal to add 20, or so, total players.
Although your target prospects don’t attend high school, those numbers compare to how a B2B company might approach their target audience with the objective of closing new accounts each year.
The overall Purdue recruiting plan increased the interest of a broader range of players and led to visits from higher-ranked prospects.
It Can Impact Your Audience
Deploying this kind of program will impact your target audience as well. The creativity plays especially well with marketing contacts who are also more likely to share it with others. However, like any business development program, it’s not just creating an image. You still need a team to show the prospect how your capabilities truly fit their needs and why you are the best option. Coordinating sales and marketing is crucial to the success of any program.
After spending the last 10 years near the bottom of the B1G in recruiting rankings, Purdue jumped to third in the B1G and to the top 25 nationally. Their marketing opened more doors that allowed their coaching staff to sell their vision.
And just like football recruiting, positioning and promoting your company in creative ways will heighten interest in your capabilities, attract more prospects and showcase how you can bring creative solutions to their challenges.
InterEdge Marketing assists organizations with marketing and sales strategy and marketing communications that impact awareness, understanding and drive additional revenues. Contact us for more information.