In July of 2012, my husband and I packed up our two little children and the dog and moved to Auburn. To say I was excited might have been the understatement of the decade. Being the family of corporate gypsies that we were growing up, Auburn felt more like home than any other place I had ever lived. We started getting settled and involved in the community and we expected exciting things to begin in the fall and then football season began….and my team tanked (and that might be runner up for understatement of the decade). We had a season of 3 and 9. It was AWFUL. I felt like a jinx. I was decorating my boys’ bathroom in a very classy orange and blue theme and someone commented that was fitting since the season was in the toilet. I was terrified my children might fulfill the dreams of their father and become Georgia fans. They might even prefer to bark over saying War Eagle….the horrors of that season were too many to count.
As a child, I became an Auburn fan the day of the 1982, Bo Over the Top, Iron Bowl. My parents are Auburn Alumnae and huge fans, but that is the day I caught the fever. I grew up in the Pat Dye Era and my freshman year was the 1993 undefeated season. I cheered the Tigers on in Atlanta in 1997 when we lost to Tennessee and again in 2004 when we beat them and still didn’t make it to the championship game. In 2011, I held my 7 month old as the last second clicked off the clock when Cam Newton led Auburn to the BCS Championship we were denied in 2004. I grew up with the Auburn Creed framed in my play room, with a grandfather who was a former Auburn Athlete, a huge wardrobe of orange and blue and a solid tailgate crew that is still strong. I was used to the occasional disappointing season, but 2012 was something I had never experienced before.
As the season was dragging on, I started meeting more people and several owned businesses. I heard over and over how the abysmal performance of the Auburn Tigers was really hurting their bottom lines. I was floored, true Auburn people did not abandon our team due to a bad season. Auburn people were better than that, I thought. It was true that people were still coming to games, but many were not staying to the end. Instead of staying in Auburn and spending money on food, drink and Orange and Blue Under Armour, folks were packing up and heading straight out of town and taking their check books with them.
All of this got me to thinking, how do businesses plan for and market to the fan base that is only here a fraction of the time? Many small businesses in Auburn have 3 distinct markets: the students and their parents, full time residents and the non-resident alumnae/fan. Obviously marketing dollars have to be spent to engage the folks who live and work here. But how can a business salvage a bad football season if they count on alumnae and fans to put their businesses in the black by year’s end? This is a situation that is not unique only to Auburn, but it is one that business owners here must address in order to be successful. One easy answer if you are a retail business is to add e-commerce to your website and make sure that your out of town customers stay connected with you via social media and email marketing and are compelled to order from your establishment even when they are not physically in Auburn or Opelika. For restaurants it is not quite that simple, but there are ways to stay in the forefront of the consumers mind. Do you have products that you can ship to out of towners and are you working hard to stay in touch with this group throughout the year?
So I will end by saying, there are 102 days to the beginning of Auburn Football season. Is your business ready? Call Lemonade Social to discuss how to differentiate your marketing strategy during the most magical time in the south!