Student-athlete brand building programs are often thought to only be accessible to the biggest and most successful college athletics programs in the country. That, however, is not the case. We caught up with Adam Ledyard, Assistant AD for Communications at East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) on the value Opendorse provides to Division 3 athletic departments. We’re here to help every athlete, at every level – and ETBU exemplifies the value athlete marketing can bring at every level.
All college programs need to find ways to maximize their tools and resources. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, athletic programs across collegiate athletics have been running on tight budgets. ETBU saw the value in proactively assisting athletes using Opendorse and embraced a long term view on the return on investment this could bring. Rather than rearranging funds, they secured a sponsor to help cover the costs of the product. By having a dedicated social media sponsor, ETBU ran various campaigns alongside the sponsor, all while growing their channels and brand by embracing athlete-driven content. ETBU already had secured department buy-in, and their sponsor saw the value of including athletes as a part of the program’s marketing machine.
On-Boarding and Training
After ETBU secured Opendorse, they wanted to get all their athletes signed up and using the platform. In the midst of a COVID season, ETBU continued to push their brand and keep athletes, fans, and recruits engaged. One solution to make this happen was a 3-day photo and video shoot with every athlete in every program. To post the media to their personal social channels, athletes simply downloaded the Opendorse app.
ETBU took a semester to ensure athletes understood the platform and get them in a routine of downloading and sharing content. First, ETBU staff created multiple athlete touchpoints to educate their talent on the Opendorse experience – emails were delivered to athletes explaining how Opendorse would assist them, and staff was on-site at the photoshoot with rosters of each team encouraging athletes to sign up.
With 600+ athletes onboarded, ETBU distributed media from the shoot in batches over an 8-week period. To continue to get athletes comfortable with the process, ETBU hired a photographer to take photos over a 3-day scrimmage period and distributed the content to each athlete following the event.
Circling back to the topic of funding, for the photoshoots and scrimmage pictures, ETBU took the funds they would have spent on traditional print materials like rosters and programs in order to hire a professional photographer.
Growth & Support
From the start, ETBU has had support from their Athletics Director and coaches. They understand social media’s importance in the modern era of recruiting and retention. Having a strong plan in place for onboarding and educating athletes about the value of Opendorse has proven successful since the start. ETBU has seen growth on its program channels with some of the highest performing posts being from the participating athletes.