If you have been a follower of the Monday Huddle Up or have read our book, you know that we often talk about Jon Spoelstra’s book Marketing Outrageously. The premise of the book is to create unique ways to market your product, or in the sports tourism industry, your destination or event.
One of our partners recently found a way to do just that. In 2015 the Southern Oregon Sports Commission (SOSC), located in Medford, launched an awards banquet to recognize the top sports stories, athletes and coaches in the region. The 2016 ceremony included over 300 people and was widely covered by area media outlets, all promoting the event as well as the work of the SOSC. Therein lies the key outcome -- the event served as a platform for the Sports Commission to educate the community on their mission of economic development through sport.
No matter how large or small your organization, there is always a way to provide a platform for promotion to tell your story (Medford’s population is just over 77,000 and the SOSC has only one full-time staff member). Here are some additional examples of annual running events that have helped brand the hosting organization:
· St. Louis Sports Commission’s Musial Awards – One of the great national recognition events held each year, the Musial Awards focus on great stories of sportsmanship.
· Wichita Sports Commission’s Johnny Bench Award – Recognizes the top NCAA Division I catcher each year and serves as a gathering place for business leaders in Wichita.
· Louisville Sports Commission’s Paul Hornung Award – Presented to the most versatile college football player in the country and includes a strong list of corporate sponsors.
· Palm Beach County Sports Commission’s Lou Groza Award – Given annually to the top place kicker in college football.
· San Antonio Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame Tribute – One of the top recognition events in Texas drawing large sponsors support from the likes of AT&T. The Tribute recognizes lifetime athletic accomplishments and also names male and female amateur athletes of the year.
While these events are firmly established in their communities, they all had humble beginnings. Most of the events listed above started out as small local gatherings and evolved into something much bigger. The key is to find a niche you can fill that will give you the opportunity to promote your organization to a larger population. Often times, recognition events will draw an audience that may not be active in supporting sports tourism or economic development. Use these recognition events to attract these people, then leverage the new audience and the platform of the event to educate them on your mission. You may end up with a new group of avid supporters in the process.