Scoring Big With DR1 Jan, 2009 By: Doug McPherson Response
Handing Off the Ball
Turns out colleges have a couple of lessons they can share with business folks. The first: realize when you have something hot. Schools have understood for many years that college football is hotter than fresh lava — and getting hotter.
The second lesson: hand off the heat to the pros, or you can get burned — or, at minimum, leave a chunk of money on the table. School administrators realize selling isn't their strength, so most stick to what they do best and partner with those who can help them reach their goals.
Footballfanatics.com is a sports apparel and merchandise online store, with more than 100,000 products.
Case in point: the University of Florida. Hill says UF has an "aggressive licensing program" and works with Footballfanatics.com, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based collegiate online retailer with more than 100,000 college products. The company handles all the "behind-the-screen" sales and fulfillment of orders from UF's Web site, Gatorzone.com.
Brian Lemmey, marketing director for Footballfanatics.com, says his company typically creates large increases in sales from what the schools were doing on their own — "Anywhere from 50 to 300 percent," he contends, adding, "Plus, it cuts their [the colleges'] expenses and takes a lot of work off their plate."
Lemmey says he uses some radio, TV and print ads in college newspapers and alumni magazines but says his best return on investment is online. "We can market directly to past customers with targeted E-mails usually a couple times a month."
NCAA Football Home Attendance — 2007
The key, he says, is keeping the site fresh with new products and seasonality — t-shirts in summer, sweatshirts in the fall. The biggest sellers are t-shirts, hats and jerseys. And, not surprisingly, he sees spikes in winning seasons. "It's true, the better they play, the better the sales," Lemmey says. Footballfanatics.com also runs 30-second spots on UF's in-stadium video screen during games.
Hill says UF also recently partnered with Ticketmaster to create "some efficiencies we just didn't have." UF is using Ticketmaster's program called Archtics, which handles season-and single-game ticket sales and is connected in real-time to Ticketmaster's host system and distribution channels for inventory control. Archtics supports common databases that organizations can use for reporting and marketing. It also offers views of seats that can be personalized for clients.