Sports Marketing Triple Play: Team, Retailer, Shoppers Win in Free Furniture Promo

Credit: Ashley Furniture - College Station, TX.

Credit: Ashley Furniture – College Station, TX.

The Texas A&M football team made a lot of furniture shoppers very happy last week when they beat South Carolina 52-28.

The margin of victory in A&M’s season-opening win meant that customers of Ashley Furniture HomeStore in College Station, TX would get their just-purchased furniture for free.

It was an exciting moment for the team, store and customers.  Maybe not so much for the insurance company.  Learn more in this mini case study, plus four keys to your sponsorship and sports marketing success.


The Retailer.  Ashley Furniture HomeStore calls itself the “No. 1 selling furniture store brand in the world and the No. 1 retailer of furniture and bedding in the United States.”

The locally owned and operated store is based in College Station, Texas.

The Promotion.  Offer:  If Texas A&M beats South Carolina by 10 points on August 28th, all furniture purchased during the August 16-27 promotional period will be free (money to be refunded to consumers).

Credit: Ashley Furniture - College Station, TX.

Credit: Ashley Furniture – College Station, TX.

At game time, home team South Carolina was favored by 10 1/2 points.


KEY MARKETING TAKEAWAYS

Credit: Ashley Furniture - College Station, TX.

Credit: Ashley Furniture – College Station, TX.

1.  Understand Your Customer

College football is king in certain parts of the country, especially College Station, TX, home of Texas A&M University.  Passionate fans are an understatement.  In fact, the famous “12th Man” tradition started here.

Ashley Furniture stores are locally owned and operated, which provide an important marketing benefit:

“Because our store owners and their team members live and work in the same areas in which their stores are located, we have better insight into your [customer] needs and preferences at the local level.”

2.  Select the Right Platform

The first rule of thumb in sponsorship marketing (after setting your strategy) is identifying and selecting the right platform.

Sure, if you’re a College Station, TX retailer, creating tie-ins to the Texas A&M football team is a no-brainer.  But not every situation is that obvious.

You have to do your homework, and that’s why excellent market and customer knowledge is a critical advantage to get both the platform and the offer right. Ashley knew that, even though South Carolina was favored, A&M fans believed the team had a good chance to win, which underpinned the promotion and fueled the pre-game excitement.

3.  Activate the Platform

Inking the sponsorship deal is just the beginning.  You need a marketing plan to activate and truly leverage the sponsorship.

Create awareness, build excitement and drive traffic – or do whatever needs to be done to achieve your objectives.  Execute well.

4.  Measure and Learn

Per news reports, the College Station Ashley store posted more than $1 million in sales from the promotion.  August was the highest sales month in the store’s eight-year operating history.

Owner Mark Wilks told ESPN’s Darren Rovell:  “We’ve wanted to do this for three or four years now.  This was really good for us.”

With insurance costs estimated at only 15% of promotional revenues, it’s no wonder he was smiling.

However, promo period sales may end up cannibalizing sales in September or October, but hopefully the store factored that into its pre-event financial calculations.

Headline

Ashley Furniture HomeStore in College Station, TX powered a sports marketing triple play when its free furniture offer activated following Texas A&M’s season-opening football victory.  Plus, four keys to your sponsorship and sports marketing success.

Harvey Chimoff is a marketing and business team leader who drives performance in consumer products and manufacturing companies.

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