Marketing is a very broad term, but can be defined as the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. As you can imagine, businesses and companies are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve, showcasing their offerings and products.
A good marketer is always learning and willing to adapt, while trying new things. If you feel comfortable, I challenge you to try something new, outside of the box. Tyler Knowles knows this all too well. Tyler is the Director of Marketing for the Utah State Athletics department. Tyler and I discuss trends in marketing, ways to stay ahead of the curve, and a couple of initiatives he’s proud of.
Nick Cipkus: What are three ways marketing has changed since you graduated from college?
Tyler Knowles: The fact that I completed my last degree almost 7 years ago is depressing enough, but in that time, what hasn’t changed in the marketing landscape? Every day this business is changing and growing so rapidly, but I would have to say the biggest changes we have seen are the digital and social initiatives that have completely taken over this industry. 10-12 years ago, when I was in school, social media was just beginning to become an option, and if you had a flashy website you were leading the charge. Today, websites are still a very valuable resource, but you have seen social and digital media take over how we disperse our brands.
It has been said millions of times before but it still astonishes me to think that our whole world fits in a mobile device that is in our pocket whenever we need it. I had a flip phone for most of college and now I have an app where I can order dinner and have someone else bring it right to my front door, while watching a movie on the device at the same time. As it relates to our audience, it is our job to make it easier and easier for our fans to reach us, to purchase tickets and merchandise, to view engaging content, live streaming and radio broadcasts, all from our phones.
We have also seen a shift from information to emotion, and from quantity to quality. What is going to make your fans and target audience feel something, feel like they are a part of the team and what you are all about. Emotion and uniqueness remains crucial in developing a consistent marketing brand and campaign from its conception to its implementation. Finding that unique voice that can reach YOUR fans, YOUR staff, and YOUR teams can bring everything together.
Nick Cipkus: How do you recommend for businesses and individuals to stay up to date on industry trends?
Tyler Knowles: As I stated above this industry evolves every single day, and you have to keep up with it or you will start to fall behind as redundant as that sounds. For me it’s been a simple quote, “never stop learning.” Staying informed about what is going on is key, and for me it’s been listening to podcasts of others in the industry, reading about what could be next on the horizon, and one of my biggest passions being creative design, watching countless hours of YouTube tutorials to continue pushing myself in that craft. My first full time job, my boss sat me down and said “I hope you are ready to push the envelope,” which is the one thing you want to hear and has stuck with me to where I am today, because the approach of ‘we have always done it this way’ will keep you in the rear-view mirror of everyone else.
Nick Cipkus: Brand activation is key in marketing. What are 2 projects you have done that you are proud of?
Tyler Knowles: Your brand is everything and presenting it to your fans and audience in a consistent and meaningful manner is even more important. Two things we wanted to accomplish here at Utah State was to develop a consistent look and feel to all of our social media platforms and content. We wanted to push content out that when people saw it they would know it’s from Utah State without us just having to slap a logo on it. I have said this quite often, but we want to evoke emotion from our fans, when you can start to do that you have taken your brand to a whole new level.
We also wanted to push a consistent message and theme, something that was unique to our university and our fans. Anyone can throw a hashtag together, but at the end of the day, if it’s not meaningful to your brand it’s just words behind a pound sign. We landed on a branded marketing campaign that was right in front of our eyes, “Meet The Challenge”, which sits on a statue right between our football and basketball venues. It offered us a unique voice that was special to Utah State fans and provides us with an opportunity to create engaging content, tell our story, and unite our fans, staff, coaches and student-athletes under one voice. We set out to create an idea that all facets of Utah State Athletics can buy into and feel as if they are a part of something bigger, while also allowing us to bring about a call to action in a unique way. At the end of the day, it is our job to get fans to buy into what we are selling, and finding that niche and what they want is the name of the game.
Underdog Sports love connecting with sports professionals who have experience. We are glad Tyler took a few minutes and share his experiences and thoughts on marketing.
Underdog Sports LLC was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 2017. Underdog Sports exists to provide the resources and support necessary for small businesses to succeed, specializing in sport businesses, training facilities, and fitness companies. An Underdog is someone with little chance of winning, usually facing extreme odds. Small businesses face similar challenges. Underdog Sports hopes to bridge this gap, increasing the odds of success for the companies we partner.