Marketing Cleveland State basketball

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I checked to make sure, but yes: Cleveland State does offer a course of study in marketing. It’s a degree program choice for students in the Monte Ahuja College of Business. I’m guessing that dozens of graduates each year have the word “marketing” inscribed on their diploma.

Why then is marketing such a foreign concept to the athletic department? You would think that an aspiring business expert would stumble into the athletic offices every once in a while.

I realize that CSU is predominantly a commuter school, with promotional challenges greater than a typical residential campus. But their approach to selling and presenting Division 1 college basketball has been consistently poor.

Let me offer a few observations and suggestions…

1. Market the attraction of live, on-campus sports to the students. Without an atmosphere of excitement and fun in the arena, you are not going to attract the general sports fan.

2. Price is not the problem; students get free admission. But you need to direct promotional efforts in the direction of those already on campus. (How about free food deals, special t-shirts, shuttle buses, and free student parking for starters?)

3. Discontinue merchandise giveaways such as hats, mugs, Christmas ornaments, and pet rocks (I will never forget the infamous pet rock). These trinkets do not attract a single fan to attend a game.

4. Even when attendance is light, you must keep at least one concession stand open on each concourse at every game. (There are only three concourses.) And speaking of concessions, it might be a good idea to charge lower prices than the professional sports venues down the street.

5. When setting up the arena, please relocate the pep band and cheerleaders near the student section instead of at the empty (curtained off) end of the court (I’m not making this up. The band & cheerleaders are on the empty end. Sheesh!).

6. Answer the damn phone. At least 75% of the times I’ve called the athletic department, the call went to voicemail.

On the plus side, it seems like the new guys get it. Athletic Director Scott Garrett and Coach Dennis Gates are active on social media and regularly visit all areas of the campus. I’m taking that as a good sign.

But maybe also hire a whiz kid marketing major as an intern.

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