Maxim Magazine, SportsClips, and Hooters were all founded on a simple, yet extremely effective formula to attract male customers:
Sex + Sports = Sales *Note: drink specials and great 80's music also serve as a complement.
Using this equation, turn college male students into repeat customers, serving as WOM brand ambassadors for your organization.
This formula is so simple, yet it seems that professional organizations continually struggle to generate creative ideas for to attract college students throughout the season. Keep it simple, they will come. The underlying message of this article is not for teams to exploit their assets, it is to LEVERAGE their assets.
Remember, be sure to capture footage of your college nights... from the student's point of view (by asking students to submit footage of their experience or position a staff member in that section with video). You need to sell the experience to prospective students, and the best way to do this is virally (through YouTube on the Internet/Facebook/Myspace) and/or video board segments promoting the events.
Brainstorming for ideas should always begin with thinking from the consumer's mindset. If you were a college male with endless Friday night entertainment options (local college sports, bars, parties, hanging out with friends, movies, road trips, etc.), what would drive you to spend a larger sum of money to attend a professional sporting event? What stadium activities would drive you to tell friends and colleagues about your experience?
Remember the "Sex + Sports = Success" equation:
- Team Cheerleader/Dancer Poster Night (with post-game autographs)
- Meet-n-Greet with Team Dancers/Cheerleaders Post-Game
- A local attractive celebrity profiled on the scoreboard (In the past, the Miami Heat have profiled Anna Kournikova and Enrique Iglesias on the "Kiss Cam")
- An affiliation through a special post-game party/concert with a local bar/club/entertainment provider (free admission to the event with ticket validation)
- A sweepstakes opportunity to win a free trip with the team's cheerleaders/dancers for their annual calendar photoshoot
- Green Screen opportunity (PictureU Promotions) where all college males can take a picture with the cheerleaders/dance team when they enter the arena doors (as a takeaway from the event)
- Cheerleader/Dance Team Circulate the crowd (Before every game, the Minnesota Timberwolves have their dance team circulate throughout the crowd and engage in conversation with ticket holders)
- Through a collaboration with Hooters, create a unique stadium section (chalet, suite, reserved designated upper bowl section) where college students are served by Hooters girls (a great brand extension for the restaurant)
- Limited Edition Maxim/Sports Illustrated edition given to all college students in attendance (similar to SI on Campus)
The Atlanta Thrashers offer one of the best in-game experiences there is in sports. To generate crowd buzz during the third period, the team profiles a fan on the scoreboard who chugs a Guinness beer and runs up and bangs on the rink boards. Every time that I have been in attendance, the crowd has gone absolutely nuts. Pre-game, $8 64-oz beers are sold in Phillips Arena's neighboring CNN Center Food Court. Although this alcoholic drink special is not offered by the organization in any manner, the Thrashers benefit from having out-of-venue, independent vendors offer such great offers to target college students.
Think creatively to attract college students, but keep it simple. Remember, if the formula ain't broke, don't fix it.
"College Nights" are supposed to be fun:
The video featured above was captured by a UPenn student profiling his experience attending 'College Night' at a Philadelphia Phillies game. This is a great example of "indie video" created by fans to profile their experiences attending games. When watching this video, think about all the ways that you can target this "college fan" on their way to the stadium. What are ways that you can enhance his experience/journey to the game?
But remember who your audience is: