Building Fans For Life In College Sports

Last week I gave a talk here in DC to the NAATSO conference at the Gaylord National hotel about building long-term fans.

I think earlier in the week, I tried to write a blog that the Internet ate about my experience and some of the ideas and things I learned while I was at NAATSO.

That said, let me revisit that idea by offering you up some ideas on how to better engage and grow your audience.

Here are 5 ideas from my forthcoming ebook called 101 Ways To Grow Fans For Life. 

  1. Focus on the relationship: In a pressurized situation like college sports, we can often feel like we don’t have time for anything but making the next phone call or sale. This pressure comes at the cost of long-term relationships. To be successful at growing fans for life, we need to focus on building relationships with our buyers, our fans, our donors, and other stakeholders. Most importantly, we need to make sure that we are building a bridge between the school and the person on the other end of the conversation. Relationships matter.
  2. Communication is an ongoing thing: Here is the thing. We communicate all day long. We email. We text. We Tweet. We post on Facebook. On and on this communication thing goes, but is any of it worthwhile and valuable? Or, is most of it just busy work that we use to disguise that we are afraid of doing the important work of connecting with people that we need to connect with? In most cases, social media, meetings, and other forms of “work” are just salves that we use to distract us from the real work of doing something high impact.
  3. Think about what might be cool that you take for granted: As someone that went to the University of Alabama, I have a pretty clear image of Coleman Coliseum in my head and I remember spending many nights there. I also remember reveling in the site of Bryant-Denny Stadium. I know that many other people feel the same way about their colleges and I know that due to this affection, there are likely hundreds of different ways that you can create value for your fans, buyers, and donors, that they would be over the moon about, which wouldn’t cost you any or a lot of money like allowing people to take pictures on the court or on the 50 yard line or getting a walkthrough of the training facility or having the coach give a motivational speech to the top 50 supporters or something along those lines.
  4. Create peak moments: I recently read The Power of Moments which talked about the ability to create powerful moments for your audience and how these peak experiences often drove change or experience. That got me to thinking about college athletics and how we can create peak moments for our fans. Going back to my college experience, I can still picture the first time I was at a game on-campus and I even remember the first time I had to go to Birmingham because several of our games were in Birmingham. But that first time was a peak. The thing is that we can’t recreate the first time we do something, but we can build other peaks. Like when you attend every game of a season, you can make that a peak by adding something valuable. You can create a peak moment by engaging with your fans. You can create peaks by doing things differently, building up to an experience. The idea has legs and the only limit is your imagination. But you need to find a way to ensure that your fans feel elevated, not mundane about visiting.
  5. Always keep the emotional in mind: We often get lost in logic. We think people should be rational animals, but we aren’t. None of us are. That’s why at every turn, to grow fans for life, we need to focus on the emotional, not the rational. Every decision in life is an emotional decision.

If you want to receive a copy of the ebook when it is completed, send me an email with “lifetime fans” in the subject line at or you can sign up for my newsletter by sending “newsletter” in the subject. The newsletter subscribers will be the first people to get access to the ebook.

What other ideas do you have for building fans for life.

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