Brand or Bust

While reading the paper last week to search for something fun to do on the weekend, my wife found an ad for a local renaissance fair.  The quarter page ad had a lot of detail, including the event schedule, and photos of some of the characters.  The one thing it didn’t have?  The LOCATION of where the event was taking place. 

Having no prior knowledge of this event and its (apparently) long history in our area, we didn’t know if it was anywhere near our home in Central Phoenix.  So we moved on and chose another activity for the weekend.  The ad was a huge miss for the renaissance fair (which apparently is held near Apache Junction, Arizona just in case you were curious).  How many others saw the ad, which we assume was quite pricey, and disregarded the event just as we did?  There is no way to know, but I am guessing we were not the only ones who grew frustrated with the ad and took our disposable income elsewhere.

The big question is this: How often do we promote our organizations in a way that doesn’t have a call to action, or a brand identity that differentiates ourselves from our competitors?  I’m sure none of us have ever left out a critical piece of information like an event time or location, or a link to buy tickets, or how to find our web site.  However every day, trade publications land in our mailbox with countless print ads that look just like all the others.  One has a photo of a kid playing soccer and a pretty picture of a golf course.  The next page has a photo touting how great that city is (along with a pretty picture of a golf course and a kid playing soccer).  The next page you will find the same ad (insert city name here).

It’s our job as sports industry professionals to create differentiation for our products so we can sell more of them.  So why run an ad that looks just like everyone else?  What assets do you have that nobody else does?  Here are some examples of great differentiators…

  • An iconic landmark (like Rapid City and Mount Rushmore)
  • History within a sport (think little league and Williamsport)
  • Legendary coaches or athletes (we bet you know where Muhammad Ali is from)
  • Event anniversaries (last week was the 35 year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid – they hosted all the living players for a very high profile ceremony)
  • Historic venues (there is only one Wrigley, one Lambeau, one Fenway)

By creatively leveraging the unique attributes of your event or your community, you create brand leverage against the competition.  How are you utilizing your unique attributes?  What makes you different than the town next door?  Are you running print ads with non-descript soccer kids and vanilla golf courses, or are you hosting chalk talks with Coach K at Cameron Indoor Stadium?  Okay, maybe Coach K is out of reach, but the point remains.  Are you playing the same game like everyone else or are you using the assets you have to build a brand?