The Golden Formula (Student Section Marketing) - The Student Section Rebuild Part 4B

“How do we get more students to games?”

It’s the burning question every athletic department asks, right?

Well I’m going answer it by revealing what I call The Golden Formula.

This formula is the exact method I used to build the Havocs and is responsible for going from:

  • ZERO brand identity to 10K+ followers on each social channel

  • 150 students to 2,500 students standing and engaged at games

  • A ‘maybe I’ll go to the game’ to ‘I can’t miss this and will wait for hours’ culture

...all within three years.

And now student sections and marketing departments all across the country who are frustrated with traditional marketing falling flat are implementing it.

Everything I’m going to share with you is straight from our program and I'm giving it away for free.

Fair warning.

It’s not an overnight fix.

Only people willing to grind will see results.

It takes strategy and time to work.

But I guarantee if you implement this with consistent action over time, it will build your student section brand and boost attendance more than any giveaway. In fact when school’s use this formula and start changing culture, they don’t even need to give away free pizzas and t-shirts anymore.

Any budget for those items can be reinvested into the student section and any promos are just icing on the cake for students. Imagine students camping out or standing in line for hours before a game WITHOUT any sort of incentive or giveaway…

Just because they want to be there and be part of the brand.

Sound impossible?

Then you definitely need the Golden Formula.

But before I jump in, let’s take a look at what most schools do for student section marketing.

Create a student section social media, which ends up being a clone of the athletics account.

Post inconsistently and most posts are just a repost of the athletics marketing graphic.

Graphics probably have athletics branding with an athlete from the team that is being marketing with the phrase like: “Game at 7pm vs. XYZ. First 50 students get a free t-shirt”

Athletics marketing interns wear polos and set up a table handing out flyers during the week promoting the game…

...then those same interns will then stand at another table giving out the free giveaway that students may or may not pick up.

Athletics marketing or the student section has a booth during orientation and asks for ‘sign-ups’ during the summer.

Most of the marketing budget goes towards shirts and giveaways that students may wear once or twice.

Most of the marketing budget goes to free pizza or food, only to see students come get food and then leave.

Implement a rewards app, which takes up way more time and money than they anticipated and now students are only coming for points and prizes.

Any of these sound familiar?

None of these are inherently bad marketing techniques.

They just rarely change culture and motivate students to come to games, stand, participate and make an impact.

Those results have to come from something much deeper.

They have to come from within each student, as they identify with a brand and take ownership in the culture the student section is building.

The way to get that type of student buy-in is using the Golden Formula.

I was a little hesitant to share this much ‘in-depth’ information straight from the Accelerator, because of how valuable this information is… ...but I’m feeling generous and want to ensure schools rebuild the student section correctly for next year. Let me first define the different parts of the Golden Formula.

(I’ve included graphics to help you visualize each part)

The Golden Topics

If you only take away one thing from this email, make it this concept. This is the ‘BIG MISS’ in marketing a student section. Most schools just focus on marketing games and promos, when in fact there are three topics that should be marketed.

Each topic should be marketed simultaneously using all of the Golden Channels, year round.

Topic 1 - Games

This is the obvious one. Market games to students, as they need to know when and where games are.

The key is marketing the primary and spotlight events only, NOT EVERY SINGLE EVENT FOR EVERY SPORT.

Topic 2 - Brand

Some schools get this. Student sections NEED to market their brand on campus.

If you remember my last email, this means putting the student section name/logo/slogan everywhere on campus.

This will breed familiarity and invite students to be part of culture.

Topic 3 - Socials

Few schools do this. Promote their social media channels.

Social media is obviously where students live and one of the most effective ways to communicate with students.

Use all the golden channels to promote social media accounts to increase followers quickly (including socials to cross-promote each other).

The Golden Channels

The Golden Channels are the six most effective channels to communicate with students to market and promote the Golden Topics.

Most schools will use at least a few if not most of these channels…

But using all of them to market the Golden Topics is necessary for max reach.

Each channel will then have various strategies to implement.

Channel 1 - Word of Mouth

The best channel of marketing. Students tell students about the student section. Students invite their friends. A movement starts.

Example Strategies: introduce yourself, expose coaches and players, share your why, prioritize and thank students, lead by example

Channel 2 - Grassroots

This channel could be called GRINDroots, because it can be a grind.

This channel uses organic techniques to get information to students quickly.

Example Strategies: tabling, handing out flyers, sandwich boards, signs/banners etc.

Channel 3 - Social Media

This channel meets students where they already spend time and attention.



Example Strategies: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Tiktok

Channel 4 - Database

This channel communicates with students directly. It can be excellent for ensuring students are provided information. Example Strategies: Texting or email

Channel 5 - Events

This channel uses strategic events to market one or many of the topics (games, brand, socials).

The benefit of hosting or using events is you have a captive audience with students who want to be there.

Example Strategies: Midnight madness, watch party, hype event, orientation etc.

Channel 6 - Merchandise

This channel takes the brand (name, logo, slogan) and puts it on merch. The more students wear your student section brand, the more emotional attachment and buy-in they have. Also a great way for students to market to other students.

Example Strategies: hats, shirts, bags, fanny packs etc.

The Golden Triangle

The golden triangle simply shows the most effective combination of the Golden Topics and Channels.

The arrows indicate each of these topics and channels are to be marketed simultaneously.

The Golden Calendar

The Golden Calendar breaks down the year and topics into bite size chunks to make planning easier…

We break the timeline of student section marketing into:

Year – Start with identifying the goals to accomplish over the whole year.

Season – Know the flow of each season and identify which Topics and Channels will be used.


The spring is a time to find leaders, evaluate the year, take a deep breath and have fun/relax. Remind students about the year and culture through social channels, encourage students to represent brand over summer and get ready for next year.

Brand — Find unique and creative ways to bring students to experience your brand/culture through spring sports or events.

Socials — One last push to capture students attention through social media before the summer.

Month – After understanding each season, plan out each month and which channels and strategies will be used.

Week – Use the monthly channels and strategies to determine which tasks need to be completed each week.

The Golden Formula

Finally, the Golden Formula is the systematic process to bring everything together. Start by identifying the goals for the year and plan on implementing the Golden Triangle.

From there, strategize the Golden Topics to market each season.

Then choose the Golden Channels and strategies to use each month.

Then create the tasks needed to execute each strategy every week.


I just provided a lot of information.

Read it. Re-read it.

Re-read it again.

When schools start with why, build the right leadership team, create their desired culture and build a brand…

...then reverse engineer their goals to implement the Golden Formula to maximize reach and boost attendance and awareness.

Students will be READY to come to games...

Which brings us to next week: GAME DAY

I will go over our innovative process to increase engagement, impact, energy and fun of the student section.

If this has been helpful but you feel overwhelmed, stuck or like you need support...

Schedule a free strategy session to see if and how I can help you implement the Golden Formula.

To your success,