The Secret to the Marketing Success of Davidson Athletics – Customization


Here at North Main Financial we think it’s very important to be invested at a very high level in our communities and that includes not only other local business owners but our other institutions and educational spaces and it’s that relationship that we are going to highlight in this blog. For many years North Main Financial has had a relationship with Davidson College and specifically, Davidson Sports Properties. We spoke to Peyton Gallagher, general manager with Davidson Sports Properties and Learfield IMG College, about how Davidson Sports Properties builds relationships with members of the community.

Joshua: Some of the likenesses between a company like North Main Financial and Davidson Sports Properties is that a significant amount of what we do is to encourage relationships. Whether it’s in the financial space in the case of North Main Financial, or in the case of Davidson Sports Properties, looking to find additional folks who are committed in a significant way to Davidson College. Talk about that if you would.

Peyton: Our role is really engaging with the local business community as a whole. So, people like yourself, a lot of small business owners in the Lake Norman area and a lot of the Fortune 500 companies in the Charlotte. We engage with companies to help them grow their business through a relationship with Davidson College and Davidson Athletics. Touchpoints that we can provide with our alumni and with our passionate fan base, students, every relationship is going to look a little bit different just like on the wealth management side. We won’t go to a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) restaurant for example, in the same way we would a wealth management firm like yourself so it’s really about how do we customize and listen to what the client needs and put something together that really works for them.

Joshua: You touch on a couple of very significant points and I want to highlight one of the last ones and that’s the customization. Here on the North Main Financial Show, for example, it’s never intended as a specific recommendation when we are talking about specific subjects because every person’s space is unique. When you’re talking with business owners like me or larger Fortune 500 companies, talk about how you customize that. Let me paint the mosaic, all of us have watched big-time college athletics and we see the banners with the Fortune 500 companies. I’ll admit, I wasn’t as aware of the opportunities that can exist with a group like Davidson Sports Properties so talk about how you customize that.

Peyton: It’s really about what a client wants to get out of the relationship. A lot of times it’s about brand recognition so a lot of your big-time insurance companies like State Farm, Geico, you’ll see on the goal arm of every college basketball arena or the courtside LED. Sometimes it’s more about B2B and relationship building and like yourself, the opportunity to have some unique experiences that you can then take a local client to and introduce them to an athletic director like, Chris Clunie, or a head coach like, Bob McKillop. In other times it’s more about some sort of lead generation or digital marketing play that’s all about how we increase our email database. It’s all about doing your research on the front end of what we call a fact find. Meaning that you are going to go meet with a prospective client and part one is doing your prospecting and figuring out who should you be calling, who should you be meeting with. Part two is, once you identify that meeting, getting some background on who that person is. It’s all about figuring out what the end goal is for the client and putting that all together.

Joshua: I appreciate you giving that detail, Peyton because that customization aspect, that framing of the relationship, is truly beneficial. In your case, your business partners and in our case with our clients, it really is necessary because if you are just giving everybody the same template obviously it’s not going to fit everyone. For example, a fit for a small boutique firm like North Main Financial is very different than a program that fits Lowe’s or Ingersoll Rand.

When you’re looking at developing those relationships, talk about your process. Here in the Lake Norman region we have a ton of small businesses and we also have a handful of Fortune 500 companies as well but as you get closer to Charlotte, the business differences are starker. Yes, you still have a whole collection of small businesses in Charlotte, but you also have a whole lot of corporate centers. How do you start?

Peyton: Prospecting is the essence of our business. I’m probably one of the worst people to go to the Spectrum Center with because the whole time I’m on my phone making notes about what companies I see advertising with the Charlotte Hornets or the Charlotte Knights. You’re always looking in the Lake Norman area as well, who is spending money in the local publications, who do you hear on radio, who do you see on billboards, as well as developing those relationships. I’ll give a lot of credit to Bill Russell at the Lake Norman Chamber for this, how often can you get out to those networking events where if I know you, you may be willing to introduce me to someone else and let them know how we could help. Referrals are huge as well. Just like your business, once you gain the trust of somebody, a referral is really where you’re going to build your book of business. I would say it’s just always being on the look and being aware of reading the newspaper every day, what’s going on in the business community, what changes are coming, that potentially make a company feel like they need to expand their messaging or brand or touch a new customer base. It’s really about being aware and keeping your eyes and ears out all the time and also the networking which is probably number one.

Joshua: Sometimes in conversations, we have with interns or younger folks, they will say, how do you grow a business in this digital age? It seems like sometimes folks are looking for that magic easy button and I appreciate how you described looking at prospecting. The things you are describing are shoe leather related, that’s just plain hustle. Understanding where folks are invested currently and then approaching those folks in a personal kind of way saying is this another avenue you may want to expand your brand into the community.

Peyton: We have a great and very unique platform where we’re not a publication where you put a half-page ad in and call it a day. Our number one value proposition is selling that passion of college sports and college affinity and you’re able to speak directly to a very passionate fanbase to where when they see that ad in a program or they hear that live read, it may not directly lead to a call the next day but it’s about creating that, “oh yeah”, moment if you will. About two or three months later that’s when they’re in the business for a new wealth management guy and they think, “I remember hearing about Joshua Dobi at North Main Financial and let me give them a call because I heard them on the Davidson Radio Network.” You may not know they heard you right away but it’s all about the repetition and touching a unique and passionate group of people who love the institution overall.

Joshua: It is interesting, as you mentioned, the number of people that come up to me and mention that they heard our spot at the Davidson College Basketball game or that they saw our advertisement through one of the other digital outlets Davidson Sports Properties uses. The reach is vast and sometimes folks look at Davidson College and think it’s smaller compared to University of North Carolina and it is in terms of students, but you really touch a very wide base of folks.

Peyton: We always preach quality over quantity if you will. It’s about our fundraising and our development group, who does an absolutely fantastic job, that each year we end up in the top five nationally in terms of alumni giving percentage wise. We’re blessed to have a great staff, an incredible new athletic director in Chris Clunie, we have an established basketball program, a quickly emerging football program that had a great year last year, and then athletics is really a part of the culture of the college with 25% of the students being student athletes. What Chris always likes to say is its athletics done right but it’s at its highest form where those kids are in the classroom every day, not missing class. They’re also competing on the highest level.

Joshua: There can be an assumption sometimes that because you’re small you’re not competing at the highest level, but Davidson has an extended history of competing at the highest level and of course nationally, from a basketball perspective.

You mentioned new athletic director, Chris Clunie, and Bob McKillop, who is well known as a basketball coach, this isn’t particularly financial related but we’re in the South East so you can probably appreciate what I’m going to ask next. Talk about Davidson Athletics right now.

Peyton: Obviously basketball has been our flagship program nationally for the last 30 years or so but we’re fortunate that we have 21 athletic sports and we’ve had a great year so far. We’re just coming off golf where we finished second in the Atlantic 10 tournament and we’ll have at least one individual compete in the NCAA tournament. Baseball is in the home stretch of their season, currently third in the conference and obviously they had a miraculous run here two years ago when we swept North Carolina there in Chapel Hill and went on to play Texas A&M in the super regional.

In Basketball, we have all of our primary players coming back this coming year. There’s been a lot of news about Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady declaring for the draft but with the new rules and regulations you’re able to come back to school and I would candidly expect them to come back. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for those two to go get feedback and evaluation and then we should be there on the brink of the top 25 entering next year.

Football has had an amazing recruiting class and we have a lot of great energy with the new head coach, Scott Abell, running the triple option and had our first winning season in seven- or eight-years last year. Men’s soccer has a new coach coming in next year and baseball is our last sport that is competing currently, but everything is going in the right direction. The momentum and energy on campus is really high and the support we get from Chris and his staff and working as a college overall to create that value for clients is really on the up and up.

For more information on Davidson Sports Properties, or to get more information on marketing opportunities with Davidson Sports Properties you can call Peyton Gallagher’s office at 704.894.3301.

Interested in hearing more about this topic? You can listen to the full episode of the North Main Financial radio show on WSIC by clicking here:

      1. Davidson Sports and Peyton Gallagher (05/04/19)

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