by Alison Vincent, NCSA Recruiting
Companies spend millions of dollars creating and cultivating their image and developing their brand. What do you do to shape the image of your program and develop your brand? Branding may not be on the agenda of your weekly staff meetings, but it certainly should be.
Let’s try an experiment: go to each of the other coaches on your staff and ask them what your team’s brand is. See if anyone can clearly articulate it and if you have several people on the same page. Chances are, most of you have never thought about creating your brand.
Your first step is to define what your brand should be, identify what your brand currently is and how to bring those two together. Ask questions of your current staff, student-athletes and alumni about what they would think of as the image of your program, what your brand looks like. Make sure the focus is on the image of the team as a whole or the program as a historical entity.
The second step is to develop messaging about your brand. From building language into your own team homepage on your website to changing the way you find your voice in social media, everything should reflect your brand and reinforce your image.
Finally, you need to tighten up your image on the general web. Prospects have more options to research college programs now than ever before. Research shows they are using information from specific recruiting research tools such as NCSA to garner information on a program prior to checking out the college’s own site. What do these profiles say about you? Are they complete? Information updated? Links all working?
If these sites are the front door to your program, you need to make sure your message is clear and your information is accurate. If your team website is designed to build your brand, you need to get prospects to make it there. Make it easy and inviting for them to click-through to your home page.
1. Make sure information on your page is accurate and current.
2. Give full descriptions whenever possible.
3. Have links to your home page, coach bios, camp brochure, and recruiting questionnaire in as many places as you can.
Once you get an athlete on the home page for your team, your message can really come through. You just have to make sure your brand is evident in every corner of your site.
Recruits in this generation are brand-savvy individuals who have had branding in every realm in their life since infancy. They are sensitive to brand-identities and will judge you on your image and your brand long before they take a step on your campus.
After graduating with a class of less than 40 in a small town in Wisconsin, Alison went onto the hallowed halls of learning at Indiana University. Although it was quite a change, Alison excelled in the classroom and on the Track and Field team. Recognized as Big Ten Freshmen of the Year in 1994 and going on to compete at numerous NCAA Championships, Big Ten Championships, Junior World Championships and USA Championships, Alison completed her career in track with the 1997 NCAA Championships on her home track. Alison has long been committed to helping students achieve excellence in athletics and academics. She now works as the head track and field/cross country recruiting coach at NCSA Athletic Recruiting.