Promotion of Wrestling

Promotion at the State Level
by Ron McAdoo
Editor, Maryland Wrestler

Today, more than ever before, non-revenue sports are in need of support at all levels to sustain their popularity, even their very existence. Football and basketball sometimes seem to roll along on their own power but other sports, both for men and women, often find themselves struggling to maintain any momentum. In order to further the development of these sports, it has become absolutely necessary to have an organization that is committed to a promotional campaign that emulates those of successful business ventures. The sports that don't may be destined to fall by the wayside.

Wrestling is a sport that is gaining in popularity at both the youth and scholastic levels. In that regard, it is beginning to develop some of its own momentum. But the sport itself is not self-sustaining and without the proper amount of organization, promotion and advertising there is only so far that it can go.

People are passionate about wrestling and in that passion is the power to further promote our sport to higher and higher levels of achievement and involvement within the community. This passion is our fuel, but like a high performance automobile, it doesn't matter how much octane you have if the motor isn't properly tuned. Without guidance, without focus, all that power can be wasted in a flash or maybe never ignited at all. Someone must develop a plan, set the objectives and initiate the action that ignites the fuel and turns the wheels toward the final goals.

Just like the successful business ventures mentioned earlier, we must present our product to the target audience in order to succeed. How is this done? By advertising! Webster's dictionary defines the word "advertise" as: "to call public attention to, especially by emphasizing desirable qualities, so as to arouse a desire to buy or patronize". And this is exactly what we must do... emphasize wrestling's' desirable qualities to the public. So how do you go about doing this? First you must identify the target audience, determine who it is that you are trying to reach. For us, there are three basic audience components.

Coaches - Coaches are the absolute best target for information from your organization. Why? Because they are already proven to be motivated, hard working people who love the sport and are willing to put their own time and effort into promoting it. They have their own audience, and their own influence. They are your direct liaison to the individual communities within the state. Keep them informed and you will have your best chance of reaching the masses.

Competitors - Take your information directly to the wrestlers themselves. Help them to generate their own excitement that rubs off on their friends, families and teammates. Keep them informed of events throughout the state. Teach them how to improve their technical skills and help them plan and achieve the next level. "People are passionate about wrestling and in that passion is the power to further promote our sport to higher and higher levels of achievement and involvement within the community.

Spectators - Although this category has the potential to include everyone that is not either a coach or a competitor, what it really means is parents and boosters. Parents must be kept informed because we simply cannot rely solely on the wrestlers alone to achieve this objective.

Now that we have our audience, we must determine the method by which we deliver our message. Cost is the most limiting factor we have to consider. It is unrealistic to believe that we can spend money on the advertising mediums most often used by businesses (i.e. television, radio or newspaper advertising).

However, we can find ways to interact with those very mediums that will give us tremendous public leverage with very little, if any, expense. Many local television and radio stations offer community calendars or bulletin boards that are perfect for announcing tournaments or coaching clinics. Local newspapers are often very willing to help by printing announcements of this same sort.

The more traditional ways of interacting with your target audience are:

Newsletter - Every state organization should have a newsletter to get the information into the hands of the target audience. The great thing about a newsletter is that it can be self-sustaining. In fact, if done well, it can actually be a source of funds generation for the parent organization. A well written, comprehensive, monthly newsletter should easily be able to build a subscriber base and, possibly, an advertiser base that supports continuous publication with little or no cost. The newsletter is the primary vehicle by which you keep your coaches, boosters and parents informed. It should contain tournament results, technique improvement information, upcoming event announcements, etc.

State Events - This includes tournaments, coaches' clinics, etc. What a great place to have direct contact with your target audience. No postage, no mailing lists, no phone calls... Just create information, print it, copy it and deliver it. Just ask the tournament director to place the information in prominent places (i.e. near the registration tables and /or in the concessions area) and to check periodically for necessary replenishment. Basically, the only cost is in making the copies of your information and, often, you can get this donated if you go about asking the right people in the right way. If not, the cost is minimal and more than worth it.

A final note about this, don't forget about the border states. If you have wrestlers from your state that regularly attend tournaments in neighboring states, contact those tournament directors also.

Direct Mail - Obviously, this will more be expensive but it is a necessary step to ensure that the right people receive your information. Coaches at all levels, athletic directors, etc. should all be on your mailing list. The cost of postage is more than offset by the results you can get by mailing the right information to the right list.

Don't forget about e-mail. This can be extremely cost effective when compared to direct mail and it is becoming more and more common place.

Web Page - With each passing day, more and more people are getting access to the Internet. This can be a great way to reach the public for little or no cost. There are many companies out there that will host your web page (provide you with computer space) for free. All you need is someone who has access to the net, some familiarity with computers and the willingness to give this a try. There are many tools available that make the creation of a web page quite easy.

Word Of Mouth - Despite all of the technological advancements of our time, the best way to advertise still remains by word of mouth... people talking to people. Don't miss out on this fantastic way to get your message out there. It's as simple as asking all recipients of each of the previous forms of communication to "spread the word." People love to talk. They always have and they always will, so encourage them to do so.

The Complete Coach - Winter 1999