Friday, May 24, 2013

The 12th Man

Many colleges have traditions and rituals that are University specific and very important to the players, fans and alumni. Texas A&M University, in College Station, upholds a tradition that involves all who proudly wear the Maroon and White.

Gill became known as the 12th Man because of his willingness to support his team and his school. This spirit of Texas A&M University has become a very valuable asset to the school in their quest for success on the gridiron and in the classroom. The 12th Man is used as a marketing tool to promote pride on campus; the 12th Man verbiage is visible on  university apparel, game day media guides, and is even on the football stadium. The 12th Man is the spirit of the A&M student body and is represented at all Texas A&M football games as the student body stands ready (literally, the student body stands up during the entire game) should the eleven men on the gridiron need assistance.

Using tradition to promote school spirit is a simple yet powerful marketing strategy that all universities should embrace. Discover the history of your school and encourage students to rally around the tradition!

New to the Spotlight: Overlooked Athletes Get Drafted

What is an overlooked niche specific to my career field? Who is snubbed in the world of young, professional, football athletes striving to create and maintain a positive image in the public? The NCAA Division II athlete, often overlooked for his skills and aptitude because of the size of the school he attended, is also at a disadvantage in the realm of media training and spending time in the public eye. Ten NCAA Division II-level athletes were drafted in the NFL’s 2013 Draft in April and a few others were invited to participate in rookie camps and try-outs around the League in May.

Photo courtesy of

So let’s follow the best-case-scenario route of a Division II rookie who is selected in the NFL Draft: his phone rings Saturday of the Draft, he hears one of 32 distinct voices on the other end of the line, his name is called by a guy most people will always refer to as “Mr. Goddell” or “the Commissioner,” then his world changes. Undoubtedly, within the hour, a microphone has been shoved in this young 21- or 22-year-old’s face, asking him what it means to be a part of the fill-in-the-blank NFL organization and how he felt getting that phone call. Then there are the inevitable phone call interviews from the hometown paper, the Sports Information Department, and the big-city reporter who is charged with the sports beat in his “new” hometown. And this Division II rookie only received that life-changing phone call 67 minutes ago!

Great story, right? A career advances, lives change, and backs get patted. But what is being overlooked? The young man who hypothetically sits before us in this scenario is prepared for what’s next in most ways: physically, he’s ready; football-wise, he fits well in the scheme. But this young man, having most likely never taken any sort of training classes or even crash courses in media relations and interviewing skills will now be forced to think, act, and speak on the fly with a recorder or camera running at all times. It’s easy to mess up, no matter who you are; ask Joe Namath. This young man who made it through the overlooked bunch at the Division II athletic level is now facing the growing pains of being overlooked on the communication front. And that is where I come in…Joanna Hensley, Leadership and Improvisation Coach.

Learn more about changes to the NFL Draft in 2014

Texas Longhorn Football: Power House in Marketing

The University of Texas athletic department is a powerhouse that scores on the field and in the revenue department. According to, during the 2011 season the Longhorns football team brought in more than $95 million while the men’s basketball team saw revenues in excess of $16 million.  The $112 million generated by the football and basketball programs did not include revenue from the Longhorn Network or national apparel sales.

Talk about marketing your team. UT has a winning tradition on the field while fans from all over the nation support the team off the field by purchasing Texas Longhorns merchandise. It is a not uncommon to see University of Texas Co-Op's in major cities, other than Austin, throughout Texas. This further proves the point that the UT athletics brand "the Longhorn" is not only a recognizable symbol of success, but also a fashion statement worth flaunting.

The University of Texas comes in at number one in revenue and in fan base. As young couples prepare for families, their children's fate is already determined as most Texas infants have burnt orange baby clothes, or a Longhorn baseball cap, or a UT football in their possession immediately upon being placed in the crib. Burnt orange is a common thread in Texas towns, and any Texan can tell you that UT sports have a lasting record of success that can trump any other college program in the nation. UT has made itself an athletic staple in the state, as well as the nation. They are not just a sports program—they are a brand, a symbol burnt into the public's mind that symbolizes success.

Recruiting – It’s About the Uniform!

Alternate uniforms in football have become one of the biggest trends in college football. In fact, the right uniforms can have an enormous impact on recruiting.  At the NCAA Division II level, funding (or lack of) plays a major role in a team’s ability to purchase multiple uniforms.

Tarleton State University, one of the premier teams in the Lone Star Conference as well as the nation, has six uniform combinations that they compete in throughout the season. With the recent addition of the matte black helmet, the Tarleton Texans have showcased a modern look for uniforms in a variety of combinations. The Texans have Nike jerseys and pants in matching purple, white, and black.

The newest addition to the Texan uniforms were in honor of the United States military.  With the support of the Tarleton ROTC program, the football program was able to purchase new all-black uniforms which they proudly wore on Military Appreciation Night. The black uniforms represented the 7 characteristics of the military --- honor, courage, service, duty, respect, integrity, and loyalty --- which were proudly displayed on the name plates on the back of the jerseys. The numbers were camouflage with a purple outline.

The Tarleton Texan football program has a Nike contract which provides the players with Nike gear from head to toe.   As the Texans run out of the tunnel at home and away games, they look good, feel good, and they play good!

Designer Basketball Courts

Real estate on university basketball courts continues to be an ever-powerful recruiting tool. Courts are no longer mere pieces of hardwood with simple lines. They are a blank canvas that can be transformed into an eye-catching, and most importantly a prospect-catching tool within a head coach’s arsenal.
Many universities have followed in Oregon’s footsteps by incorporating elaborate artwork of their own. These courts serve as a blank canvas, which function as an innovative backdrop for sporting events. Most recruits dream of competing on a masterpiece of art that showcases their school’s pride and tradition. The University of Oregon chose the artwork of Douglas Fir trees and the phrase “Deep in the Woods” in homage to the natural beauty of the state. George Washington University paid tribute to the nation’s capital by incorporating famous landmarks of Washington, D.C. on the hard-court. This begs the question; do these basketball courts have the same iconic feel of Boise State University’s football field The Blue”?
The designs on these basketball courts are cutting-edge and immediately recognizable. Head coaches are always searching for ways to separate themselves from the competition and to have a dominant presence on the national level. Universities that elect to go the trendier and artistic route are putting their athletic programs in a position to succeed. From a recruiting and school pride point of view, the artistic designs of these courts are clever and offer a bit of majesty, making them enviable pieces of athletic property respected by coaches, fans, and athletes alike.

Female Fitness and Social Media: What’s Right for You?

As a woman, I know that we frequently struggle with finding the right personal fitness plan. Not only are we constantly displeased with our body image, but most of the time we do not want to ask for help for fear of being criticized.  That criticism is especially difficult to take when given by another woman. Let’s face it – as women, we are our own worst critics. However, women should no longer feel this way.
Today, women have so many options for seeking help for fitness inspiration (also called “fitspo” or "fitsporation" – the words fitness and inspiration combined), workouts, personal trainers, and even nutrition advice. Women are more likely than men to take advantage of inspirational social media sites and smart phone apps such as Instagram and Pinterest because they target women in most of their posts. Posting “fitspo” before and after weight loss (or muscle gain) pictures via Instagram has created a new phenomena of ‘online famous’ as women share their fitness tips.  These ‘fitspo” women gain social media followers who are inspired to workout after seeing images of real results.  Pinterest has a Health & Fitness section that provides ideas for quick workouts and recipes. I am guilty of spending countless minutes of my day on these social media sites.
For women who struggle with face-to-face assessments of their bodies, there are many online personal trainers who have the knowledge and skills to provide solid advance (for a fee) to their virtual clients! These personal trainers can empower these virtual clients by providing instruction via Skype, FaceTime and podcasts.  Most of the time, online personal trainers are cheaper than gym membership, you are able to set your own schedule, can visually show you how to do an exercise even though they are not in person, and helps improve on communication skills and accountability via the internet. There are so many pro’s when it comes to online training and motivation.
The old excuse “I will join a gym after I lose some weight” is no longer valid thanks to the internet and social media.  Women no longer have to be ashamed or intimidated; the internet is filled with reputable fitness information that allows each person to develop a good workout, meal plan, and motivation to  succeed.. However, as always, you cannot believe everything on the internet so make sure you choose wisely and are a well-informed fitness client!

Picture taken from Instagram
Picture taken from Pinterest

Marketing Sports to Change Lives

Each year during the month of October, football teams at every level (public school, college, pros) modify their uniform colors by adding pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.  In the past few years it has become commonplace to create honorary games dedicated to certain causes or people battling a life-threatening ailment.  Some teams have a game in honor of a specific person to help raise monetary support for that person during their time of need.  The sport of football has aggressively promoted these honorary games, while other sports teams have yet to embrace this marketing technique.
Although promoting health awareness at an athletic event is a noble cause, sports marketing professionals can also promote community service initiatives that lead to increased ticket sales.  To attract more fans to a basketball game, the team might offer free admission to all elementary students at a certain school located in the community.  This marketing initiative brings more fans to the game as well as provides heightened interest within the younger fan base in the area. 
Professional soccer clubs often walk out onto the field with kids from youth soccer programs at their side.  Imagine yourself as a young child – how awesome would it be to walk out onto the field with your favorite team?  This gesture is something that these kids will remember for the rest of their lives!  
Promotional events are a great tool for marketing a sports team by creating lifetime fans.

NBA ‘Noche Latina’ Campaign

During the 2006-2007 NBA season, the inaugural ‘Noche Latina’ games were created to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. Roughly translated as Latin American night, the ‘Noche Latina’ celebration included games between NBA teams located in the top Hispanic markets in the U.S. – Los Lakers (Los Angeles), El Heat (Miami), Los Bulls (Chicago) , Nueva York (New York), Los Spurs (San Antonio), and Los Mavs (Dallas).  In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the Hispanic population in the United States grew to more than 52 million – roughly 17% of the U.S. population. The annual event has grown in popularity mirroring the rapid growth of the Latino population.  
During ‘Noche Latina’ games, the players displayed their Latino pride as they dressed in special uniforms with their team names translated to Spanish. During each one of the games, Latino music and special programming was created to spark an interest in the sport of basketball in the Spanish-speaking communities. 
In my opinion, the NBA has developed an effective marketing approach to recognize the dynamic diversity in the U.S. Although some people think that it is just a joke or even a dishonor to the Latino heritage, but I think it’s a great marketing strategy by the NBA public relations staff.
College athletic departments and Campus Recreation programs such as  Intramural teams and Club Sports should embrace this unique marketing concept. Celebrating Latino Heritage night or month would increase the celebration of diversity on campus and possibly target an untapped market of future participants. ‘Noche Latina’ has been successful at the pro level; let’s bring it into the college games!

Athletic Recruiting: Make It Personal

Success in collegiate athletics requires a coach to utilize great marketing skills when recruiting potential student-athletes.  The coach must promote the athletic program as well as the university and the community.
As a former golfer at Tarleton State University, I was impressed that the team was consistently at the top of the NCAA national rankings each year.  However, the most important recruiting element that kept me from walking away and committing to another collegiate golf program was the way the coach marketed the university, golf program, and the community.   The coach emphasized the school traditions, the small class size, and the small-town feel of the community.  He also focused on the team chemistry and the family-like atmosphere; I didn’t feel like I was just another recruit --- I felt like I was special.
To be set apart from other collegiate golf programs it is significant to focus on what the university and your program specifically offers for the recruit. As a coach it is important the way you market your program, university, and community in order to recruit the best players for a successful program.

My Kind of PE!

During my time as a student teacher at Morgan Mill, I learned a lot about the way children perceive PE in school. The young ones, in grades K-3 absolutely love whatever game I teach them to play. The simplest of games, such as ones that involve parachutes, will make their day in my PE class. However, it's the students in 4th-12th grades that have the most trouble enjoying PE. This may be because they start to question "How is this PE class relevant to what I want to do?" As teachers, we need to let our students know that PE is important; we must make our students aware of the benefits of being physically active for a lifetime.
The goal of physical education is to develop individuals with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to engage in healthy physical activity for a lifetime.  In order to achieve this goal, we must encourage and expect participation in PE classes. Perhaps one of the ways to get students to appreciate PE is to have them be responsible for their own learning. The PE teachers should determine what motivates the students, what kind of exercises they enjoy, and why physical activity is important in their daily lives. To get the students to understand the importance in being fit, the PE teacher can allow them to be creative in developing their own workout for the class.  By promoting ownership and excitement for physical activity, the PE teacher is ultimately encouraging health and fitness for life.

Protecting PE, Children, and the Future

Physical Education is unfortunately a dying subject in America’s public schools. As physical educators, we desperately need to promote the importance of PE. There are many ways to market a product and get a specific message out to the public. My favorite form of marketing is advertising on different types of apparel which creates a walking billboard for your message.
Under Armour is a leading sportswear company. They have an effective tagline, Protect This House, and they aggressively promote their products. Physical Educators need to take a page from the Under Armour playbook in order to effectively market PE in the public schools.
Physical Educators first need to create a tagline that intrigues the public. For example, “Protecting Our Future,” could serve as a potential PE tagline. Children are our future; without physical education, children will not understand the importance of daily physical activity. T-shirts could be designed and given to PE students for good behavior or a specific in-class achievement. As a result the message would be delivered to the public that we care for our children’s health and wellness. As children wear the t-shirts, they will be promoting the positive message about PE.
To protect the PE profession and protect the health of our children, we must promote the importance of PE.  The future of PE is in our hands --- we must effectively market our message!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Marketing in the Fitness World

What can you do to make your fitness facility stand out in a class by itself? Taking a page from the sports marketing playbook, you can disqualify the competition and redefine the standards in order to transform the fitness game by hitting these main focal points.

Equipment No one likes walking into a gym and seeing chipped paint, torn upholstery, and dirty floors. As it relates to fitness facilities, strive to make all of the equipment, exterior and interior, top of the line. Providing a facility that houses state-of-the-art equipment will generate respect as well as serve as a means of recruiting and retaining clientele. Try to outfitting your gym with equipment brands that project quality and professionalism. Brands such as Life Fitness and Iron Grip are among the top fitness products in the industry.
StaffWhen I walk into a gym, the last thing I want is to be greeted by a rude employee. As a professional, it is imperative to take the time and effort needed to hire the right person for the job. Hiring the most qualified person who possesses relevant certifications or other relevant credentials is essential to creating a quality staff.  It is also important to look for individuals with a customer-friendly personality.  Physical appearance is crucial; in-shape, fit employees will give you the upper hand in the fitness world where image is key. The right staff will make people feel comfortable and make them choose your fitness facility over the competitors. A quality staff will generate happy customers who will 'spread the word' about your facility which in turn will increase your membership potential dramatically.
Apparel Plain, gray, cotton t-shirts are not what people want to see in the Pro-Shop. Provide an inventory of nice, branded clothing for people to purchase, such as Nike or Under Armour.  When customers are wearing your branded clothing (your fitness logo), it serves as a secondary form of advertising.

These are a few ideas that you can incorporate into your fitness facility to make the opposition irrelevant and dominate the game of marketing in the fitness world.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Marketing to Create Marketable Athletes

In an industry focused on preparing amateur athletes for becoming professional public figures and competitors, marketing will be crucial to my career success. In order to set myself apart from others striving to break into the role of improvisation and leadership coach or director of player personnel I will be required to distinguish my techniques of teaching. As collegiate and amateur athletes transition to professional athletics, they will need trusted individuals who will advise them in maintaining a public image, interacting positively with the media, and securing their own style of brand management.

Photo courtesy of 

The core product I’ll offer my clients (amateur or newly-professional athletes) is a set of skills, tactics, and considerations to aid the athlete in any number of situations that he or she might encounter in the professional world. These will facilitate a level of control and poise in the face of the ever-aggressive world of media and public attention. I will distinguish myself from the crowd as an improvisation and leadership coach by establishing key concepts and lessons that resonate with the client in dealing with media and the public. These media lessons are part of a developing curriculum that I will teach my clients; the athletes should develop a professional mindset from which to speak.  Ultimately, it is not ’what to say’ but ‘how to say it’ in a professional, deliberate manner.

As a director of player personnel teaching a client to be media savvy, it will be equally important to create an environment of trust for the athlete. Just as critical as what is being taught is the style in which the message is delivered. Creating a sense of ease with the athlete and the athletic administration will be paramount in the success of my career. With the proper curriculum comes learning, with learning comes practice, practice leads to success, and success will build trust.

Monday, May 20, 2013

PE Crusade

Current studies in early childhood development indicate that Thales’ wise words still stand true for modern society. Science proves that physical activity promotes a great number of benefits for the human brain. For students that have learning difficulties or ADHD, Physical Education is key to success in the classroom. These are great things about PE, but the public does not put a high value on what we do.

We have to change the way PE is viewed by the public, but more specifically, the parents of the children. At home, the parents are the biggest influence on their children. If we can change the mindset of our parents, by marketing to them the importance in their child being physically active, we can change the health of our school children.

To achieve this goal we can offer the following PE events throughout the school year:
·         Fitness events with students and parents that may consist of: Greek Games, Field Day, Workout talent shows, Jump Rope for Heat, etc.
·         Have students write about their favorite PE game or activity.
·         Have students work on creativity by assigning groups to develop workout routines.
·         Have students log and track their own fitness assessment stats and to develop short term goals.
·         Create a Twitter account to promote PE events to the parents and community.

We are the voices of Physical Education. Our children’s future health depends on us. Let’s change the world by changing the way people look at PE in school.

CrossFit: Stronger, Faster, Healthier

In the fitness industry, there are various exercise programs that range in quality and sound professional standards.  One program that separates itself from the pack is CrossFit.  CrossFit was founded by former gymnast Greg Glassman. The first CrossFit affiliated gym opened in Santa Cruz in 1995. CrossFit itself is a strength and conditioning fitness program that promotes broad, general and inclusive fitness using a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics and elements of track and field. CrossFit strives to teach functional movement patterns that will better the participant in their everyday life rather than only in the gym. These movement modalities include pushing, pulling, squatting, jumping, throwing, carrying, and sprinting at high intensity for short combined intervals.
As a CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer, I promote CrossFit to my clients as the superior training technique for achieving total functional fitness. CrossFit is a very marketable service due to its universal adaptability and superior results. CrossFit maintains its popularity by creating a community of friends who work together in a family-like atmosphere to achieve optimal health and fitness goals. We call ourselves “CrossFitters.”  

TSU Football – Random Acts of Kindness

The Tarleton State University (TSU) football team separates themselves from the competition through extremely hard work on the field and in the classroom as well as by giving back to the community. Since 2011, the TSU Texan football players have accumulated over 2,700 community service hours by volunteering to work with organizations such as Angle League, Tarleton Round-up, Tri-Star games, Fantastic Field Day, Meals on Wheels, Ronald McDonald House, Tarleton track meets, foster home cookouts, power lifting meets, and other random acts of kindness. In 2012, TSU President Dr. Dominic Dottavio presented the Texan football team with the Organization of the Year Award for community service.  The team exceeded the second-place student organization nominee by over 1,000 hours.
By giving back to others, the Texan football team gains an understanding of how blessed they are to play college football. Most of the community service is geared towards children with disabilities or a bad home life; serving others allows these college athletes to become role models and advocates for those who need support.

Taking time out of a busy in-season and off-season football schedule to touch others around the community is a selfless act that develops leadership traits and great men of character. They are not required  to wear their TSU Football gear for program recognition; it is something the athletes do out of the kindness of their hearts. Every player on the TSU Football team is a true champion in the game of life!

Uniforms are Pushing Sports Marketing

An important marketing tool for sports teams is using a creative logo and color scheme in advertising their product.  One of these areas of marketing in which these concepts can be readily seen in is team uniforms and apparel.  Whether it is collegiate or high school teams, uniforms are becoming more complex and important to team marketability.  Brands and uniforms are now becoming a huge recruiting tool for most collegiate programs.  Oregon has used the uniform and color schemes to the schools advantage to help gain national recognition for its athletic programs. 

High school athletes are now having an influence on what brand and style uniforms are being purchased for their teams.  As an aspiring athletic director, I think it is important for the athletic director, to not only focus on the budget of the teams but to also provide the players and coaches with apparel and uniforms that they can take pride in wearing.  These creative uniform choices can speak volumes for an athletic program.  When a football team travels to a rival town for a Friday night game, the entire town is represented by what is put out on the field.  A clean, sleek uniform can help represent the image of a community.
Look good ... feel good ... play good!

Tarleton State University: Golf Logo

The product and logos are fundamental to the success of any sports marketing effort. The product lets the customer know what you represent (team or apparel or service) while the logo is what catches the eye and lets the customer know who you are (brand identity). The logo is often what people recognize even before they purchase the product.  The customer wants to associate themselves with a ‘winning’ product and the logo often indicates quality. 
As a former player and assistant golf coach at Tarleton State University, one of my favorite apparel items was our hats. A white hat with purple writing and purple hat with white writing were used in competition and practice, respectively. The front of the hat showcased the team name “Tarleton”; however, the “T” was monogramed to resemble the “T” in Titleist, a premier golf company.  The side of the hat was stitched with TSU Golf.
Taking a page from the Titleist playbook was a great marketing idea for the golf team because the hats were immediately identified with golf. It was also a great fundraising idea because supporters who play golf are fanatics for Titleist products and readily bought them to show support for the program.
Consider product and logo when marketing your program…it’s a hole-in-one strategy!

Speak Out for PE

Physical Education in public schools has been put on the “backburner.” School administrators are focusing more of their attention on issues such as assessment and less on issues for maintaining Physical Education in our public schools. The state of Texas only requires a minimum of 135 minutes of structured physical activity a week in elementary schools while other states are struggling to even meet this minimum weekly requirement. This total lack of respect for Physical Education as a core subject is outright embarrassing.

In a country where obesity is a serious life-threatening condition, it is time for all Physical Educators to take action with a mass marketing campaign. Physical Educators need to market their profession.  It’s time to take a stand; Physical Education is absolutely necessary for our children to be healthy.  Consider these 4 tips for promoting PE in your community or school:

Progress Reports – Provide progress reports that track students’ progress in PE during the semester. This may show a direct correlation to students’ progress in the classroom as well.
Newsletters – Send emails or hard copy newsletters to parents providing facts that encourage them to keep their children active at home.
Shout Outs – Celebrate students who achieve goals in PE by providing write-ups in the local newspaper. For example, publicly recognize a student that exceeds the requirement for the Miler’s Club.
Involve Administration – Keep administrators up-to-date with your PE program. Invite administrators to actively participate during Field Day competitions or FITNESSGRAM assessments.

As Physical Educators, we need to stress the importance of PE so we can reset the academic standards and get our children active, healthy, and out of the “at-risk” zone.