You can advertise in newspapers. You could make a funny video and pray it goes viral. Heck, you could even use the tried-and-true practice of direct mail to pique interest in your brand.
But for many of you who read this live in Texas. And on Saturdays and Sundays from September until January (maybe one day we will have a team that plays in February again), there is only one place where your brand can put on an unbelivable experiential marketing experience for 50,000+ consumers every week: a football tailgate.
Today, we sat down with Felice Schimmel, Director of Catering for Austin Java, and CEO of Festival Social Club, who gives us a few tricks for how to maximize your brand’s tailgate experience.
Schimmel says if brands are going to give out prizes or free goodies, to make sure fans can use it during and after the game to keep the momentum and keep the fans thinking about your brand. These tangible goodies can come in the form of koozies for drinks, or giving out hand-held fans during the games where the temperature can get to be north of 100 degrees. While she worked at Little Caesars, Schimmel handed out pizza slicers at Houston Dynamo games.
“So many people order or bake pizza, and always lament that that they don’t have a pizza slicer to cut their pizza with,” Schimmel said. “Since we gave them the slicer, the idea is that they will think about ordering Little Caesar’s every time they are thinking about pizza!”
You can host a huge tailgate filled with all kinds of goodies, but will tailgate goers actually develop a relationship and remember your brand? Consider teaming up with an alumni association. If you’re in the medical device business, perhaps the medical alumni association might be best to partner with. If you’re a lifestyle brand, a fraternity or sorority tailgate would be a perfect way to show off the new fall line to actives and alumni alike, and potentially secure more brand ambassadors for future tailgates.
At a tailgate, you have a captive audience that likes certain things, like being outside, eating barbecue, and watching sports. But most of all, these fans are there because they have some kind of tie to the home (or opposing) team. Schimmel says it’s your job to ensure that your brand ties its marketing efforts into the team experience. Whether that’s raffling off tickets to people that don’t have them, or setting up a watching station, it’s your job to make their journey to the game that much easier. Take your brand one step further, and partner with an ex-player who could mingle with fans before the game and give your brand a bigger audience.
“Ugh, we have to buy food,” is a common response from brands and companies, thinking of it as an added expense in an ever-expanding marketing budget.
To put it in the words of legendary college football announcer Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. Working for a variety of companies, Schimmel found that by offering food to tailgaters, the brand she was working for was buying their time in exchange for their attention.
For a textbook example on how a brand can conjure up good feelings with food, Schimmel tells us to look no further than McDonald’s at SXSW. McDonald’s hired bands to play at a showcase, and while festival goers were sitting down listening to the bands, the company passed out burgers. This gave those in attendance a warm fuzzy feeling, reminding them of how they used to eat at McDonald’s as young children.
Sampling is the key to giving your audience a unique event experience. You want customers to be able to feel and taste what your company truly provides. The more times people are sampling, or being exposed to your food means that they would be that much more likely to purchase from your company.
This goes without saying, but it’s important nonetheless. While your brand ambassadors don’t need to know the statistical intricacies of the home team, having some knowledge of the game is important in engaging fans of the home team, as well as the opponents. Rivalry games are especially important to educate your ambassadors about- an innocent question by an uninformed brand ambassador about a rival team might cause a few fans to quietly walk away from your tailgate tent, never to return.
Let Brand Besties Make Your Brand Tailgate Awesome- Contact Us today!