College showcases are an increasingly popular way to connect high school athletes and college coaches. Showcases can also be a powerful tool to show high school athletes that your facility is tuned in to their needs and to the college recruiting process. If you’re interested in hosting your own showcase, here are a few first steps to take.
Analyze the finances. Before you create any new program or event at your facility, you should take a look at the finances. You don’t need to go overboard on number crunching, but do estimate the cost of the event and the potential revenue it could bring in. Analyze your competitors and find the prices for similar showcases to the type you’d like to host, and establish the price you think you will charge per athlete. Then, estimate how much the event will cost, including staff pay and the cost of facility space. Establish your revenue goals, even if that’s just to break even for the first few years of the event. (Even losing some money for the sake of marketing your facility and getting the event started can be acceptable, but if you already sense that the event is going to be a money pit, that’s a big red flag.) Calculate the number of attendees you need to reach your goals, and keep that number in mind as you move forward with a marketing plan.
Contact college coaches. It’s essential that you have a few college coaches at least tentatively on board to attend your showcase before you begin serious marketing efforts for athletes. Reach out to the college level coaches that you or your staff has personal relationships with first and get a few commitments and date availabilities so that you can begin to market the event with confidence.
Choose your showcase style. You can host an invite-only showcase, selecting the participants by hand, or you can make the showcase open to any athlete who wants to attend. It’s usually a good idea to make the showcase open for the first few years until it’s established, and then move to an invite-only model to provide maximum value to the attending coaches.
Create a marketing plan. Establish your target markets – which sports are the most popular at your facility? How many contacts do you have in each sport? How many of those contacts would you have to convert to reach your revenue goals for the event? Decide whether you need to make special marketing efforts – such as a Google Adwords campaign or running a newspaper ad – to reach your goals. Create a marketing calendar for the event with marketing dates and deadlines.
Plan to enhance your brand. When it comes to the execution of the showcase, make sure that your facility’s brand is front and center at all times. Include facility branded apparel for all attendants, both coaches and athletes.
If you would like to consult with Mike Meszaros about hosting showcases at your sports facility, please call (513) 791-4940.