The first week of class is always my favorite time of year. You can feel the energy on campus change from mid-August to mid-September as our student athletes return to Loyola Marymount University to begin training for the upcoming year. The renewed sense of optimism, and the anticipation that comes along with it is evident on the faces of our student athletes and provides me (and professionals like me) with similar joy and optimism.
The students are back and that means intercollegiate athletics are back!
During my eight years as the Director of Business Development for Loyola Marymount University Athletics I have had the pleasure of building relationships and partnerships with a variety of prominent national brands and local businesses. These partnerships range from traditional signage, advertising and marketing opportunities to more creative and innovative strategic marketing and activation plans. Over the years our partners may have changed, but generally the concept has remained the same. Company ABC pays LMU for the right to brand or sell its product through LMU Athletics.
However, during the past few years as the competitive balance and spending in intercollegiate athletics has risen to an almost “us vs. them” mentality in regards to “big” football schools vs. “mid-major” football and non-football schools, the need to create new and mutually beneficial partnerships has become even more important for schools like us.
Recently we teamed up with UPS as part of our “TEAM LMU” program, which attempts to incorporate local and national business partners with the university, community, fans and friends of LMU and LMU Athletics. The goal is to create a “win/win” situation, in which all parties involved support and benefit from each other. We’ve introduced customized LMU Athletics Express Envelopes that we send to recruits, alumni, fans, and other interested parties.
From an athletics department standpoint, using UPS’s customized envelopes has been extremely beneficial by allowing us to:
- Increase positive brand awareness: A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for recruits, donors and fans in intercollegiate athletics wages on. An increased awareness of the LMU brand can be the difference between a recruit choosing LMU over another school, a prospective donor choosing to give, or a fan choosing to attend an LMU basketball game over going to an amusement park. The customized envelopes ensure that we are perceived as professional, competent, top-of-the-line, successful, and capable of providing the best.
- Differentiate from competitors: Within intercollegiate athletics, and in an extremely competitive market like Los Angeles, it is important to do things that differentiate you from your competition. Be it in recruiting, alumni relations, or reaching out to our fans, the customized envelopes have allowed LMU to make a bold statement before the actual message is even received. It has given LMU the opportunity to stand out head and shoulders above the competition and has them asking “how do we get those?”
- Increase sustainability: LMU and UPS both share a passion for sustainability and the customized envelopes are a perfect fit for what the university is hoping to accomplish through its “Green LMU” campaign. Since the envelopes are reusable, we are able to have documents returned without having the recipient use a second envelope.
Our partnership with UPS has allowed us to accomplish all of these goals, while giving us the opportunity to be associated with one of the worlds most recognizable brands. On the flip side, UPS has had the opportunity to attach itself to a quality institution and athletics department, reaching our unique fan base and the Los Angeles market.
If the goal of a TEAM LMU partnership is to create a “win/win” situation, I feel confident in saying mission accomplished.
For more information about customized express envelopes and the UPS College and University Program, visit www.ups.com/college.
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