The National Wrestling Hall of Fame is located in Stillwater, OK. The objective of this marketing plan is to double attendance and revenues this year. The plan recognizes that this is a major challenge, but with the right marketing strategy, these objectives can be achieved. The tactics will focus on three areas — promotions, product and special events. With respect to promotions, we want to encourage visitors who are in Oklahoma City or Tulsa to make the trip to Stillwater, so promotions will focus on making the town itself more attractive to visitors. The product will be tweaked, in particular to provide a more interactive experience. In addition, special events will be added, to draw more people to the hall.
Our offering is differentiated in that we are the only major sports hall of fame in Oklahoma, and in Stillwater. This means that for visitors to the region, we have a unique offering in terms of promoting our nation’s heroes and in terms of athletics. The core product is the museum experience, with the collections of memorabilia of wrestling’s greatest athletes. The communicated product, however, is going to the all-American experience. One of the things we want to accomplish is to shift the positioning of the Wrestling Hall of Fame from a niche tourism attraction to one with broad-based appeal beyond the sport of wrestling. To do this, we need to focus on the experience aspect of our offering.
The product, therefore, is an important element of what we do. The current product offering is clean, tidy, but ultimately not especially engaging. The first part of the marketing plan is to change that. We are going to install a wrestling floor and equipment in order to provide an interactive experience. Visitors should have the opportunity to try on headgear, and to learn from a staff member some basic wrestling moves. For legal reasons, this would probably have to be as part of a course for which insurance was purchased, but by offering something interactive people can appreciate the sport better. This creates a higher level of engagement with people who are from outside of the wrestling community. We will also want to license video of some of the most famous fights. The objective of adding this product offering is so that visitors can see why the Hall of Fame Distinguished Members are in the hall.
Personalities are important as well. It is important to work with staff in order to ensure that they are showing their personality more effectively to the visitors. The experience should never be dull — a little showmanship will go a long way to generating word of mouth positivity about the experience. In order to improve service levels, surveys will be made available to visitors so that they can provide feedback about whether or not our efforts are successful.
The hierarchy of effects model provides a guide for the other elements of the plan. The hierarchy begins with awareness, and moves on to knowledge, liking, preference, conviction and purchase (No author, 2010). In order to create awareness, our promotion strategy will rely on becoming involved in the Stillwater community, especially with respect to the major events in the community. We want to have a presence in all of these events, including the Celtic Music and Heritage Festival, the Payne County Fair, Collegefest, the Special Olympics and of course the OSU Homecoming. The Hall will benefit from stronger associated with the school. The most ideal event would be a tribute to the Olympic medal winners during the Homecoming game, with the television exposure that would come from that.
In addition to partnering with these established events to gain more exposure in the community, the Hall should also partner with local events and attractions to create new events. For example, the Hall can host events on home football game days, in order to attract people with barbecues, chili cook-offs, hosted by Hall of Fame members and OSU football alumni. In addition, the Hall can take advantage of the fact that this is an Olympic year by hosting either a send-off or welcome home for the U.S. wrestling team. Such an event would further integrate the Hall with the wrestling community, but would also highlight the role that the Hall plays in promoting wrestling. Past U.S. medal winners can be brought in for the event, and there could even be viewing parties where we cheer on our American wrestlers in London. The objective of this tactic is to build the brand of wrestling among the Stillwater community and in Oklahoma as well. These events would be family-oriented, and well-publicized among the wrestling community of Oklahoma especially.
In addition, partnership with other local attractions could provide an opportunity for an “attractions pass” that would allow for discounted entrance to the Hall, the Sheerar Museum, the Botanical Garden and Arboretum and the International Friendship Garden. By working together with other attractions, we can capture traffic from the state’s larger cities. If local hotels and restaurants are involved in the promotion, that would allow Stillwater to improve its overall brand as a destination for visitors.
Events are an important part of the marketing plan because they generate buzz, in contrast to the day-to-day operations of the Hall. The brand benefits from this buzz in that not only do events create more awareness, but they connote an image of fun that leads to liking and eventually preference, conviction and purchase. Viral and guerilla marketing are unconventional tactics that can create awareness of the Hall and help to build the brand. Finding the best personalities within the sport and some creative talent to put together videos for YouTube, and increasing social media spending will be important, as these techniques are how a younger audience is reached in 2012. It is worth noting that there are thousands of students arriving every fall who represent a captive audience we can attract to the Hall. The viral campaigns, in order to be effective in generating traffic to the Hall, will need to focus on people who are already and Stillwater, so the school is a good place to start. Thus, efforts will have to be made to build trust with the school so that we are allowed to market on campus. Once that is in place, we can utilize any number of viral and social media techniques but the first step is to hire a person to do that. A marketing student from the school could be offered an internship for the summer, for example, as a means of containing our costs but also of giving back to the school for their help in our endeavor.
With respect to control measures, it is important that costs are contained. Thus, spending measures will be tracked carefully, and projects should be evaluated for ROI. Over the course of the year, we will survey visitors to see how they found out about the Hall, and make a determination about which elements of the program were most effective. It is worth mentioning, that for events the success of the event at creating buzz is often not known until the second year. First year attendance can be low, but if the event is great the buzz will nevertheless be strong in the second year. The partnership with local attractions and hospitality industry providers will need built into it coupon codes so that the participants can track the effectiveness of the program. With proper tracking, the ROI of each element of the marketing plan can be tracked, leading to better decisions in subsequent years of the program.
National Wrestling Hall of Fame, website. (2012). Retrieved April 30, 2012 from http://nwhof.org/
NetMBA. (2010). Pricing strategy NetMBA.com. Retrieved April 30, 2012 from http://www.netmba.com/marketing/pricing/
No author. (2010). Hierarchy of effects model. Dryden Retrieved April 30, 2012 from http://drypen.in/advertising/hierarchy-of-effects-model.html
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