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University of Akron Zips blog

Marketing plan for InfoCision Stadium

By mrasor Published: June 30, 2009

Many community members, including some Zips fans, have showed concern that investing in a football stadium is an unwise use of public money.
Those voices will be amplified if attendance is low, and the team struggles to fill the 30,000 seat venue. That is why the marketing plan for this season is so crucial. Akron has a unique opportunity to ride InfoCision Stadium's momentum in establishing a broader fanbase.
I asked senior associate athletic director Hunter Yurachek to expound on his marketing plan. Here is the Q&A:

Rasor: How does your team plan to market the home opener to public? In other words, what is the specific plan to sell single-game seats against Morgan State?
Yurachek: Currently, the external staff's focus is on maximizing season tickets sales, which continues to go well. We will shift gears and actively begin marketing single game tickets in mid-August. When the single-game ticket campaign is in full swing, the marketing will include an extensive schedule of traditional media (radio, TV, print, outdoor billboards and direct mail) and non-traditional media (e-mail, web and Twitter). Our internal sales force of 10 will continue their summer-long campaign that has included telemarketing for individual and group sales, solicitation at local businesses, speaking at civic events, appearances and inclusion in community festival parades, etc. Also as the single game push begins, InfoCision (the company) will be assisting in a concerted telemarketing effort.
While it is not a part of the marketing plan, the word-of-mouth exposure has been great. Those who have toured the stadium and participated in the select-your-seat program have been thoroughly impressed. InfoCision Stadium does sell itself. We anticipate a person who may purchase a ticket for just the Morgan State will want to purchase a season ticket as well.
Rasor: What is your goal for season attendance average?
Yurachek: Our goal is to average 20,000+ over the six-game home season. However, as we developed the financial pro-forma for the season, we were aggressive while at the same time carrying forth what we thought were realistic goals. We tried to take into account uncontrollable factors such as weather, game times and playing during the week, as well as our good home schedule, specifically with the first game in the facility (Morgan State), Big Ten opponent (Indiana), Homecoming (Ohio) and Kent State. The attendance goal within our 2009 ticket pro-forma is an average of 18,037 per game.

I am impressed with the marketing plan. I would add my ideas for marketing to students, who, as I continue to say, must be a focal point. I recognize they do not pay for their seats. However, there is no substitute for building dedicated alumni. My impression is that Akron's current alumni network is lacking compared to other programs, such as Northern Illinois or Miami. But you don't teach people to be Zips fans 20 years after they graduated; you do it while they're on campus.
How do you do it? Start at the residence halls. Walk door to door. Hand out real, physical tickets, so people think they actually got something. (A large "Students only. Not for resale" disclaimer should deter scalping.) Even the players can get involved. You're telling me that it wouldn't make a huge impression on a freshman to see Ryan Bain show up with a fist full of tickets, saying it would mean a lot to him if you came?
A lot of marketing can be done from the office with a phone call and the signing of a check. But when you're trying to build a program, you must achieve individualized contact. It's more difficult, but it leads to sustained growth. Ten years from now, those students to whom you reached out will be dedicated -- rather than disinterested. And they will return the investment that the University of Akron made in their fanaticism.
Coming tomorrow: The long-awaited video of my tour of InfoCision Stadium.
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