Why your program’s identity is so important.
Here’s the situation:
You have a great program (high school, college or club) but you aren’t getting the players or coaches that you want. You know what it takes to have success but you need certain types of people to get there. Without those people you are staying in the same place.
You aren’t competing at the level you want. Your reputation as a winning program is not improving. Your coaches are getting frustrated. The cycle continues.
Here is what makes it worse; when you watch the perfect player or coach go to another team when you know they would have a better experience with your program.
We often see players, coaches and families make these choices because they don’t know any better. They look at two choices, you vs. another option, and the choices seem similar.
At some point they are asking the crucial question: Why should I pick this program over that one? If they cannot quickly answer that questions, it comes down to luck. They pick one team or program and hope for the best.
It’s not their fault. It’s yours.
Establishing an identity
Why do people choose the wrong program (i.e. not yours)?
The “random” selection of a program happens when a program is not communicating their identity. Without a clear message of who you are, players, recruits, coaches and families must guess what you stand for.
They can’t find a good answer to their WHY question. Why should I choose this program?
This is a real problem for you and them. If you aren’t defining your identity outside influences will do it for you. And it may not be what you want.
How to find and/or define your identity
The reality is that anyone can find and build their program’s identity. It needs to be genuine and there needs to be a strong commitment to make it happen.
To be clear, identity is not your logo. Identity is what people think of when they think of you. Here are the 5 Steps to start the process of building your identity.
THE 5 STEP PROCESS
STEP 1: Identify what your program stands for or what you want it to stand for. Condense this down to 3-6 words.
STEP 2: Identify every competitor you have and not what their brand stands for or represents. Condense this description to 3-6 words.
STEP 3: How do you and your competitors measure up? If you are the same as everyone else, you have an identity problem. If you are clearly different, but you still aren’t standing out, you have a marketing problem.
STEP 4: Do your actions match what you want to stand for? List three or more ways that your actions are supporting what you stand for. Can you think of any way that your actions are working against what you stand for?
STEP 5: List three or more ways you are communicating what you stand for both internally amongst your staff and players and externally to potential recruits, parents and the public.
In The End
What it comes down to it, your program’s identity is a big factor in your future. Building it starts with understanding who you are. Neglecting it leaves you vulnerable to competition. Your program is worth building and is a benefit to those that get involved. You owe it to them to make sure your identity is clearly defined and supported by your actions. When done well, it becomes a major competitive advantage.