Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gopher Football: The Experience

Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where Little Leaguers who stand, watch and showboat after hitting home runs get benched. And then suspended. No matter what game or tournament they're playing in. (we need to teach kids today to Respect The Game!)

It won't come as a surprise to most of my readers that my beloved Minnesota Golden Gophers are opening a new stadium this fall, back on campus. It's a rare thing these days: a brand new college football stadium. And, as a season ticket holder (and former letterwinner), September 12 will be a happy, happy day indeed.

But why am I most excited about this? Well, it's all about the experience...the ability to be on campus, tailgating, going to pep rallies and parades, hanging out with fellow rubes, being outdoors, establishing new traditions and adapting old ones, etc. If you've been in the Metrodome for a college football game, well, you know what I mean. I marched in the band, and we had to bus it over to the Dome from campus. Talk about an atmosphere killer..."Hey, let's get on the bus!" And even being on the field playing pregame and halftime shows, I could barely hear myself say nothing at all for the people in the seats. Damn those acoustics.

But, thinking about this a bit broader, there is a lesson here that all of us professional marketers (and beyond) need to keep in mind. These days, when word-of-mouth marketing is even more the gold standard than it's ever been, is there a better way to promote/advance your company, product or brand than to get people excited about it through a positive experience? I dare you to find one. An advocate's endorsement carries more weight with a prospective buyer than anything else in their buying decisions. And first-hand knowledge/experience of a product/company/brand will deliver more return business than any other interaction with that product/company/brand.

Congrats to the University on this seminal moment in its history. Ski-U-Mah indeed. And congrats to those who figured out that the continued success of the Gopher football program depended on a common, shared, positive experience with the team...and then did what they needed to do to ensure that experience would take place every fall Saturday at home for the foreseeable future. Let this be a turning point for Gopher Nation, not only on the field but for the good of the University and the state she serves.

I'm out like Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson.


Kasey Skala said...

I agree. There's nothing like a true college atmosphere to bring homefield advantage to the Gophs. The Dome wasn't cutting it.

While in Iowa, I attending a bunch of Hawkeye games (I know, I despise the Hawks too) and the stadium and fan experience made the game.

I'm jacked for the stadium - it looks beautiful,

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