'This ain't my first rodeo' was recently used by President Bush in having to now work with a Democratic Congress (he had a Democratic State House when Governor of Texas). Today I was reminded of it when looking for venues to get in front of priority audiences. Social marketers often dream of being in the big leagues of professional sports where exposure of a project both in-person and through media coverage can reach into the millions, but the price of admission limits these opportunities to only a few well-funded, or well-connected, programs. However, as you shift your thinking from reach to engagement of social networks and communities, a variety of new options present themselves.
From minor league baseball and hockey to high school teams there are many different ways to interact with social networks and communities when you shift to an audience perspective and think small and targeted. This LA Times story is a case in point.
If Ben Londo's game were football, he'd be as famous as Reggie Bush, the
former USC running back who won last year's Heisman Trophy as the
country's best college football player.
More famous, actually. Londo, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo senior, has won his rugged sport's equivalent of the Heisman for two years in a row, and is intent on winning it again this season.
As the article goes on the describe the triumphs of Ben and his college rodeo team, it notes that it costs each team member about $5.000 a school quarter to maintain their horses. And scholarships cover only part of the costs. The visibility of the sport and the needs of the athletes were opportunities US Smokeless Tobacco wasn't going to pass up for its sports marketing portfolio. I wonder how many health promotion programs around the collegiate rodeo circuit have done the same?
The current interest in getting involved in digital social network sites on one hand is quite exciting to witness, but on the other hand there are thousands of social network sites convening every day across the country - sporting, arts and entertainment events in your community - that engage their participants, fans and schools as much (or more) that a site on MySpace. Maybe they don't have the sophistication or Wow! factor of digital media, but these real life social convening points are likely even more powerful than mediated ones to encourage the adoption of the behaviors, products and services you are marketing.
When I was directing a community-based program, our sponsorship of a youth soccer team in the Portuguese community may not have altered a single heart disease risk factor in and of itself, but it paid dividends for us in demonstrating that we were part of their community and developing relationships that led to a series of risk reduction programs (including risk factor screenings at some of the games).
Wherever you are planning or conducting a health promotion program, you might want to ask yourself if this is your first rodeo? And if not, look for one. Speaking of hockey, who wouldn't be conducting some of their flu shot education programs this time of year at ice skating rinks?