Going local with your brand – Grassroots marketing builds deep relationships in a community

Posted on Categories Brandonomics

It’s not just a game or two, it’s a total EVENT (and so much more)! Robin Tooms interviews Rachel Quan, VP of external operations for the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four Houston Local Organizing Committee to talk about how she built excitement within Houston so that we benefit as a community.


Robin: Hello and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands and my guest again is Rachel Quan, VP of External Operations for the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four. So Rachel, I’m so glad you’re back on Brandonomics.

Rachel: Thanks Robin, it’s good to be here again.

Robin: The communications you’re doing around the NCAA Final Four this year is phenomenal but what’s amazing is it’s not just one game – you know the game at the NRG Stadium this year – but it’s all of the activities leading up to the game and that’s a big challenge because I don’t think everyone’s thinking about all of the things that go around this, but that’s one of the things that makes it so great. So how are you dealing with that communications challenge?

Rachel: Well we have really, really worked hard on our grass roots strategy, period, and that’s really what the communications strategy for us has been. Everybody focuses on the games, as they should – I mean that’s really ultimately what it’s all about – but we did find that people really didn’t know what went on around the games; the FanFest, the music festival, the 4-miler and the youth clinics, Final Four Friday.

So all of those ancillary events were things that back in 2011 when I did this we realized people just didn’t know came with the games in a city, and so we’ve been working really hard since this summer to just get the word out about those activities and what they are and educate folks on the fact that even if they didn’t have a ticket to the game – which is a hard ticket to get – that they had an opportunity to be a part of the Final Four by attending one of the ancillary events that were either free of very, very low cost. And so we’ve been doing that grass roots style; we’ve been out in our community doing some community programs, talking about it in a community program with HISD for instance we’ve done a read to the Final Four literacy bracket with them and really emphasized Final Four Friday which is one of the ancillary events with that demographic.

And we’ve also been out at everything you can think of in the suburbs at Halloween celebrations or at a holiday lighting or, if you will, at the Globetrotters that were already playing in NRG Stadium; handing out material, talking about it in as many different ways as we can so folks saw us just in the general public.

Robin: Right, well that is I guess in a way one advantage because first, most Houstonians will benefit from going to all of the ancillary events because that’s where most of us will kind of experience this and two, you’re kind of talking about you participated in local events all year long and these are the people you’re trying to speak with, so was there a specific way you termed the messaging to let them know that it’s not just about the game?

Rachel: Well we do talk a lot about the fact that it’s not just about the game because a lot of folks would come up to us and go oh, the Final Four is in town and that was challenge number one, that people needed to know it was even coming but two, they would always ask well are you selling tickets to the games and we would always say no, we’re not selling tickets to the games but here are the myriad of activities you can come be a part of even if you aren’t getting a ticket for the game. And so it’s been a lot of interacting with folks, a lot of just being out and about in community activities and talking about all of the different activities that we’ve got going on.

Robin: Well I appreciate you sharing that. I know when you say grassroots that was a lot of hard work and volunteers on y’alls part so thank you so much for doing that.

Rachel: Thank you.

Robin: Sure. This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.

Houston is host to the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The Houston Local Organizing Committee is the local organization which works with the NCAA on a daily basis to help plan and execute the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four.  Listed below are some of the events and volunteer opportunities that will occur the week of March 30- April 5, 2016 during the Final Four: Final Four Fan Fest, March Madness Music Fest, Final Four Friday, Final Four Dribble, and more. http://www.ncaa.com/final-four

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