How to market your brand like a champion

How can the Chicago Bears, a historically losing team, draw such a large crowd to their games? Why is there a line out the door, in the middle of an afternoon, at Apple Stores? On this episode, Associate Vice Chancellor, Jay Gladden gives us an inside look at how major sports teams and retail chains create winning marketing strategies.

Show Notes:

This episode of The ROI Podcast is brought to you by the Kelley Evening MBA Program at IUPUI. The Kelley Evening MBA will take your career to the next level—so you can be part of something bigger than yourself, while making a meaningful difference. To find out more, visit and take the first step toward lasting career momentum.



The 2018 school season is officially underway. In honor of our kids in the class, we’re going back to school with Marketing Expert, Professor Jay Gladden who’s re-teaching us simple techniques so we can market our brand like a champion. Let’s get to the podcast…



Welcome to another episode of the ROI Podcast presented by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, I’m your host, Matt Martella, alongside the one and only, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Phil Powell.

On this episode, we’re sitting down with Associate Vice Chancellor and Professor at IUPUI, Jay Gladden who holds a Ph. D in sports management. He’s done marketing research for Major League Soccer, the NCAA, and the United States Figure Skating Association. He’s also a board member for Visit Indy and a member of the Indiana Sports Corporation President’s Council.


(Remarks about Jay)


Well today, Jay’s going to help us unpack some simple marketing tips – using both sports teams and retail examples. The principles seem elementary, yet it’s really good to get back to basics because though they’re simple to hear, they can be tough to master. The first tip to marketing like a champion is to identify a need in the marketplace, at your company, or within your organization. This basic business principle is the root for every major company success.

Jay Gladden: there's a company in Indianapolis that was created because someone [there] said [they] didn't have the technology tool to manage [their] volunteers for this event. A woman named Florie Mae said that she'd take a stab at doing that and created this technology tool, didn't think it was going anywhere, and generically called it The Registration System. She will honestly tell you that to this day, they put a generic name on it because they thought they were just doing it in the instance for Indiana Sports Corporation. That has become a tool that's very commonplace, a market leader for volunteer management systems, particularly for sporting events. So it's a really good example of serendipity of a very viable business is built by identifying a need. 




The second marketing tip Jay suggests is, create an experience around your product or solution to the need you’ve identified.

Jay Gladden: You know, Apple stores fascinate me. You can get Apple products other places, but any time you go to an Apple store, there's a line out the door in the middle of the day. And before that it was Nike stores. And I know, on good authority, that Nike stores do not make money. They just don't. It's not where the Nike stuff is bought. It's really a brand tool, it's an experience, it creates that connection between the consumer and the brand. What does it symbolizes about you and how it fits into people's identities.


People don’t buy an iPhone because it makes a phone call because there are many qualified companies that make the same kind of device. They buy the experience Apple created around that device. (Talk about the defining your why)


The third tip to better marketing is to control that experience – don’t simply market off its success, market to the experience around your brand.

Take the Indianapolis Indians for example. The simple, logical approach is create a campaign around the actual game of baseball, right? But they don’t. So what would their crowds look like if they simply marketed the baseball game? Or a whole campaign around their star player? It wouldn’t work! Why? Because they cannot control when a player will get called up to the majors just as much as they cannot determine if they’ll win that night. So they do things like Friday night fireworks, kids can run the bases, or discounted food – those are controllable elements. All sports teams take inventory of the controllable things surrounding the viewing experience and leverage those for marketing their brand.

Jay Gladden: And that's why the Indians are a really great example because when you go to a minor league baseball game, the outcome really is secondary. You're going because you want to be outside, probably with a group of people, or your family, it's affordable, it's friendly, it's clean, it's fun, right? Those things you can control.


Again, It’s doing things I have a direct influence over and creating a marketing campaign around it.


And the proof is in the pudding. Take the Chicago Cubs as another example. Before they won the World Series in 2016, their brand was associated with defeat. So how can a historically losing team draw such a massive fan base to each game?

Jay Gladden: And I was particularly fascinated with how the Chicago Cubs could turn out large crowds, despite numerous years of losing. Yet, people turned out at Wrigley. And people would say, "there was a party at Wrigley Field and a baseball game broke out." Which jokingly, I think, very nicely summarizes the experience. But you started to see just the elements of building a brand. It's not just what happens on the field, it is the place where it happens and what you create with that place. 




So let’s recap. Using Jay’s incredible knowledge within sports marketing, there are 3 simple tips we can adopt in order to market like a champion. First, we must identify a need in the marketplace, at our company, or within our organization. This is the root for every success story inside business. Second, create an experience around the product or solution that addresses the need we’ve identified. This is Apple’s strategy that makes their products so revered within our culture. We don’t just buy an iPhone, we buy what an iPhone symbolizes. And finally, control that user experience, don’t just market the product itself or the success it brings. The Cubs cannot market success when their team is not winning – they control our experience by the elements surrounding the game, which allow us to have a great time, no matter the outcome.

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, head over to iTunes and hit subscribe. While you’re there, tell us how we’re doing. We really appreciate your feedback.

Keep up with us.

Stay in tune with our latest episodes by subscribing to or following The ROI Podcast presented by the Kelley School of Business on Podbean or iTunes.