Small Business Marketing

How to Market During a College Sporting Event

Written by Amy Bax for Gaebler Ventures

Having trouble reaching the college-age market? Find out what they do and where they'll be and take advantage of it. College sporting events can be a great place to get started and find a large crowd.

For most colleges, sporting events are a big deal.

A large part of the student population comes out to watch the games and participate in traditions such as homecoming, tailgating, and standing in the cheering section at games.

Given that college students are extremely hard to reach through traditional advertising and marketing efforts, taking advantage of large sporting events is a good idea.

Listed below are a few ideas to use and expand from when trying to get your business name out during a college sporting event. Most would work best for businesses that directly cater to the college crowd, but with a little creativity any business may be able to use them.

For best results, have a few of your employees (especially college-aged to appeal to the target market) be part of your unofficial promotional team to help you.

Running Contests During Tailgates

To get the go ahead to set up an actual booth, this would probably take working with the college in order to be allowed to set up somewhere around the stadium or arena. Finding a high traffic area, it wouldn't be hard for spectators to stop at your table if something caught their eye. In many cases, an actual set up booth isn't always necessary.

You can work with a radio station to attract people to participate. Fun games and silly prizes that go along with the atmosphere would be appropriate and also get people talking. Making sure that people knew your business was behind this, either from a set up banner, t-shirt, or promotional fliers that you pass out during the fun would be necessary.

Take the chance to talk to people standing around watching the contest as a way to inform them about what your company does.

Participating in Homecoming Activities

Homecoming doesn't just happen the day of the game- there is usually a whole week of activities and celebrating.

This is a good time to get involved and take part as a member of the community. Sponsoring floats, being a part of the parade or supporting activities during the week are all good ways to get the name of your business out.

Alternatively, just going as a fan and bringing up the business while speaking with community members will put a personal face to your business. People will generally warm to you because they see you like to be a part of community activities and support the school.

Passing Out Free Tailgating Must Haves

During a hot day of tailgating you will become extremely popular if you hand out tailgating provisions to help people cool down.

Water, fans, misters, ice cream, or anything that will help make the day a little cooler will be greatly appreciated. Or, during the end of the season when it's cold, hot chocolate is an idea. Have something attached to the cup or bottle you pass out with an offer for discounts on food or drink if they come in for the first couple of hours after the game.

Participate in the Halftime Entertainment

For most basketball or football games, halftime entertainment has sponsors. This is a pricier option, but the school is usually very good about advertising your name as a sponsor to the entertainment.

Promote After-Game Specials

Walk around before the game. You and your team could go around and introduce yourselves and what business you're promoting.

If it's a restaurant or bar, promote the special of the night! Creating specials around the games will also create excitement- for every touchdown made, it's that many dollars off of appetizers, or something similar to this sparks interest.

With a little luck, a crowd may migrate your way after the game to celebrate!

Amy Bax is interested in providing innovative informational resources to entrepreneurs. She is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri - Columbia.

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