Today I leave for a quick trip to Dallas to watch the Oregon Ducks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first College Football Playoff National Championship game. I've been a long time fan - from the time that we had the worst team in the nation to today where we have a shot at being seen as the best collegiate football organization in the county.
Football is a business; Oregon has done a stellar job at marketing the brand and the product. There are three things that they have done well and serve as a guidepost for anyone running a business.
1. Having a "Sugar Daddy" is a good thing.
There is no doubt that the Oregon football program has greatly benefited from the financial support of Phil Knight. He has been a generous, patient and supportive partner in the success of the Ducks. Getting here took time. Phil stuck by the program and kept funding it with the hope that we could be the best in the nation. That patience paid off.
I meet a lot of startup founders who tell me that they have no funding strategy or hope to get a kickstarter or want to grow the business "organically." If you can't sell an investor on your business idea and get them onboard for the long haul, time to rethink what you are doing.
2. Your brand wins the day.
The Oregon mascot - Puddles - is an icon in college football. ESPN College Game Day selected Puddles as the first mascot to be the guest celebrity picker during the Oregon vs. Michigan State game. I was at that Game Day and my first thought was this: Every marketing person for every other college football team is slapping their forehead thinking that they should have thought of the idea.
The Duck isn't fierce nor scary. Instead, he is constant and shows up everywhere; grabbing attention wherever he goes and driving them back to Oregon.
If your brand doesn't evoke an emotion, your customers will never identify with it.
3. Customer enthusiasm is contagious.
Anyone who has been to Autzen stadium in Eugene knows that it is the loudest in the country. Rain, sleet, or snow doesn't stop the fans from attending games and cheering on their team. Most fans have to drive hours to get to a game. I have friends that fly to most home games from out of state. The reason? They want to be with their fellow fans.
Customers like knowing other customers of your product or service. If they are happy with what you are providing, they will tell more people about it and create a fan base that will keep you in business for the long-haul.