Loyola-Chicago is winning more than basketball games

In less than two weeks, the men’s basketball team from the small 15,000-student Loyola University Chicago has orchestrated three shocking upsets during the NCAA tournament. With defeats over Miami (Fla.), Tennessee, and Nevada, these Ramblers have captured the attention of the nation. And they are winning more than just basketball games.

With each game and each win, millions of viewers are being exposed to this charming, private Jesuit school, providing the institution a marketing opportunity they could never afford to buy. Just the first round of the tournament alone averaged 8.6 million viewers. And with each round the audience increases. Though final tv ratings have not yet been shared for the latest games, it is safe to say that over the course of ten days, counting the three wins and their upcoming Elite Eight game, the brand and story of Loyola-Chicago will be shared with more than 25 million viewers for a duration of eight hours! The school is also receiving attention from sports highlight shows, morning shows, and a plethora of other news and media outlets across the country. Not only are there stories about the team’s basketball achievements, the players, and their coaches, but there are also stories about the team’s delightful chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, a 98 year-old nun from the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has her own bobblehead.

This kind of marketing opportunity is no miracle. It is part of a plan that many colleges and universities design. They know that a big win in a big game can translate into a great story-driven business opportunity. The story that emerges from these events, the story that the schools are showing, rather than telling, is that their school is a place for winners, with legitimacy, where a student can experience an exciting community.

Though there is no provable connection between the ability to assemble a group of people who are good at getting a ball into a hoop and the ability to provide a quality education that will prepare students for success in life, there is proof that this kind of strategy can payoff. Plenty of studies and articles affirm this pattern. The Bloomberg reports a 25% to 30% increase in admissions applications after a small school appears and/or wins an NCAA basketball tournament game. Not to mention the potential increase they can experience in donor giving. This is why some college head coaches receive a salary upwards of $7 million to $8 million per year. Colleges and Universities know that the best story wins.

In my role as COO, I work all the time here in Cincinnati with companies who are looking for this kind of exposure and this kind of story-driven excitement. We often use video production and marketing to get the stories out into the world. But like these schools waiting on their Big Game moment, the storytelling starts in house. Who do we want to be when the world finds out about us and the light shines on us?

If you need help figuring out how to transform your work into a successful story-driven business, schedule a Story Dive with Rebel Pilgrim today and get ready.

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