School Sports Programs Use Digital Marketing

POLAND, Ohio – Poland Seminary High School boys basketball head coach Eric Fender understands the power of social media as a marketing tool.

He uses Twitter and Instagram to promote the 55 businesses that financially support the school’s athletics teams as sponsors.

 “This is just something we can give back to our fans and the opposing fans coming in, to see who has donated to our program,” Fender says. “Also, we are able to put it out there on social media for those who like to keep up with us that way.”

Poland Local Schools also showcases its sponsors through standalone ads or commercials on video boards inside its football stadium and fieldhouse.

“It’s the visual aspect of seeing a family or a corporate business being blasted out all over the stadium and seen on the video board,” says Poland athletics administrator Brian Banfield. “It’s picked up and it’s helped those sports programs market for advertisement and opportunities as well.”

The video board in the football stadium was installed in 2013, while the one in the fieldhouse came in 2019.

The outdoor board cost $88,000. After it was paid off, revenues from advertisers on and around the scoreboard and press box brought in $12,000 to $15,000, Banfield says.

The social media and scoreboard mentions not only thank sponsors, but help them reach new customers.

Poland Seminary High digital media specialist Patrick Williams says you never know who might need a hair stylist, doctor or some other service.

He needed a tire replaced last year  and recalled that Fynn’s Tire & Auto Service is a sponsor of the boys basketball team.

“When I went there, I said I had no idea where to go. But you guys sponsored our basketball team,” Williams says. “That’s why I’m coming here.”

Williams says for most of the school’s big sponsors, a computer graphics artist creates the visuals. Some of the smaller advertisements are done by Poland students in the sports media class.

Williams says the website has many sponsors, with links for each one.

Jeffrey Ryznar, president of 898 Marketing, was president of the athletics booster club at Ursuline High School. He used digital marketing for fundraising.

“It connected the alumni of Ursuline to support something,” he says.

Schools need to embrace digital advertising, Ryznar says. The ability to live stream sporting events and give visibility to sponsors through websites and social media is the norm nowadays.

“That’s true with their ads,” he says. “That’s true with their programs. That’s true with the exposure that they’re offering their value partners who continue to support their programs.

“They have to find new ways to promote their partners. It’s a global audience now.”

Pictured: Patrick Williams shows the laptop he uses to display ads for Poland boosters.