Building a program by design: marketing, branding and public relations

By Robert Pomazak | Posted 5/6/2019

Strategic Planning: Marketing Your Program

The strategic plan is the cornerstone which all aspects of the program should be built upon. If the strategic plan is the “why” then the next phase of program building is the “how.” In this installment, we are going to expound on the football program business model ideology and look at how to market your program and build a strong public relations presence.


Recent studies show that football participation has been on a steady decline across the country. Youth leagues have struggled to maintain participation and the high school level has suffered a huge hit over the past 10 years. There many reasons as to why this has happened and it’s not the goal of this article get into it. However, as a coach and program leader in 2019, we must adjust and adapt. The days of parents and players lining up to participate are gone and it is the job of every head coach to consistently reach out and connect the program’s message to as many people as possible. Again, you cannot expect this to happen on its own. Simple methodologies can allow for coaches to build their program exponentially.

RELATED CONTENT: Strategic Planning Aligning Your Program Through a Systematic Approach

I. Evaluate the programs current situation

It is always beneficial to take stock in your program’s current reach to its stakeholders. In the same manner that we evaluate our schemes from the prior year, we must do the same for the program’s visibility within the community. When running an experience-based program it is imperative that we identify our deficits and utilize laser focused target marketing to build relationships. A few areas that we evaluate are:

- School community

- Youth programs

- Parent community

- Football /Coaching community

- Alumni community

We look at each area with the same desired outcome – to be an inclusive organization, increase our connection and continue to develop our core values through these endeavors. Focus on the impact the program has on each group and the experience you are giving them. If there deficits then we must figure out what they are and how we can effectively improve that area.

II. Be Intentional

If you look at any collegiate football program’s Twitter feed, you will see that there is a level of showmanship and sales at every level. Locker room unveilings, uniform launches and even Alabama has a show that goes behind the scenes of their program. Each of these endeavors share the same goal: to market their product to their target audience. Truth of the matter is whether you are D1 or D-none, you can create an experience that markets your program to your target audiences within your football community. Get over the idea that the kids and parents will just line up to play for you. As a head football coach and program CEO, it is in our job description to sell our program and connect it to everyone. Remember that we are the hub and our job is to pass the program through us and connect it to the community. My only suggestion is to do it with discipline and design.

RELATED CONTENT: Building a Program Culture by Design: Beliefs/Behaviors/Mission/Vision


III. Develop Marketing Communication Strategies

Once we have established our deficits and target audiences, we must then commit to the modes of communication we will use to market our program. In today’s day and age, the marketing opportunities are endless and it can be overwhelming. I believe that a simple plan executed with detail and relentless consistency is far more successful than a complicated one. It is important to differentiate our communications strategies to our target audiences. The key is to meet each group where they are at.  Find out where your stakeholders are looking, clicking, practicing and then get your program there. A few marketing models that we have had success with are below.

  1. Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube are all viable options. However, please check with your district policies on what you can and cannot do.
  2. Philanthropy – Nothing promotes your program’s values better than acts of charity. As a program we try to do one a quarter and we make sure to target each opportunity to a different part of our program net.
  3. Program Event – Youth camps, lift-a-thon, Family Days, Freshman Signing Days and College informational nights are all great examples of how you can bring diverse audiences into your program.
  4. Guerilla Marketing – Nothing like hitting the pavement and getting out to promote the program. Youth football leagues, in building posters and t-shirt give-aways are just a few of an endless list of guerilla marketing strategies that you can employ. I live in the community that I coach in and consider every time I am out of the house as an opportunity to represent and market our program.


 IV. Establish the infrastructure and execute

Finally, once the target audiences have been identified and the communications strategies are set, the next step is to execute and build the brand. I strongly encourage to build a support team into the marketing department of your program. Parents, students and other community members are usually more than willing to help. Don’t be afraid to add these people to the inner circle as it creates buy in and support. As a head coach it is our job to set the infrastructure then find someone who can dedicate and focus their efforts on the development of the system. I am never the smartest person in the room but the people I surround myself are.


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