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Marketing helps us to tell a story. For Greenpower teams, your audience may differ depending on your goals, from recruiting team members to approaching the local media. It can be difficult to know where to start, but luckily our communications partner SQN joined us to share some guidance. Here are the key points from our PitStop Chat with Account Manager Carrie Mathieson and Chief Operating Officer Chris Ritchie.
What is marketing?
Carrie: “Marketing encompasses a lot of different things, and a lot of things we’ve discussed previously play a part in this – for example your social media and sponsorships. Most importantly it’s about your brand identity; showing people who you are as a team. Much like big-name brands, Greenpower teams will have different marketing goals. For some, it might be recruiting new members to your team or it might be taking stories to the local media to help your sponsorship ambitions or to show all your hard work to your community. Marketing is a tool to persuade people to get involved with and invested in your journey.”
How do marketing and sponsorship go hand-in-hand?
Carrie: “Getting a new sponsor or a local business to be involved with your Greenpower team is a good news story in itself, especially if you’ve done something quite out-of-the-box to convince them that you are worthy of their investment. Equally, by going out and marketing yourselves you may grab the attention of a company who might not have been aware of your team or the Greenpower challenge. There’s a symbiotic relationship between marketing and sponsorship – you can’t have one without the other.”
Chris: “People might have the impression that marketing is about advertising or selling things. It’s about telling your story and educating people, making them aware of who you are and what you’re doing. It’s not always about selling products; it’s about sharing the experience.”
How do you decide what you should educate people on?
Chris: “The starting point is to understand your audiences, because these will be different; it might be prospective team members, local businesses, or parents and carers – all sorts of different communities you might want to talk to. In order to identify the story, you need to identify what might be of interest to them. There are a lot of elements and moments of being a part of a Greenpower team, from the arrival of a new kit car to dabbling in some software, and each of those audiences will be interested in a different angle of what you are doing.”
Carrie: “Don’t be afraid of highlighting the challenges that you’ve had. Maybe you weren’t sure you’d have your car ready for your first race; maybe you had to go somewhere else for support or bring in new team members, or you all worked together to solve a problem and went on to have a really good event. Find ways in which your journey has evolved and don’t be afraid to talk about the problems you’ve faced, especially if you have managed to overcome them.”
Chris: “It’s not all about successes necessary, it’s about the learning experience you’re on.”
Carrie: “Hearing personal experiences is key to persuading people that the Greenpower challenge is a good investment of time. For parents, it might be hearing from other students how it developed skills that have helped them with their studies, securing a place on the further education course of their choice, or getting employed. For prospective participants, hearing experiences from current participants about the different elements involved can help you sell what you are doing to your audience.”
How would you approach the media?
Carrie: “Not every team needs to go and approach the media, but you might have members of your team who are interested in creative writing and this could be a good exercise to bring this and STEM together. Make sure you’ve identified a story that you think people would be interested in. Research your local media – radio, TV, websites. Read and listen to the stories that they are reporting and see if you can identify the key hook that’s got them interested. Another tip we often do when approaching local media is to search for your local journalists on Twitter. This will help you find out who is reporting on what; for Greenpower teams, you would be looking for reporters to target who are talking about education, technology and science. Often they’ll even have their email address in their Twitter bio, but if they don’t every news website will have contact details listed. Once you have their contact details, decide how you want to approach them. You might even want to tweet them! A punchy email explaining who you are, what you’re doing and importantly, why they should be interested. You could also try a longer piece of content like a press release, starting with an attention-grabbing headline to draw in your reader.”
There are many different types of media today, do you have to tailor your content to each one?
Carrie: “Yes, it’s really important to do this for each approach because you don’t want to lose their interest if they receive something they feel is not right for their platform. If you’re approaching local TV, they are going to need moving images so it might be appropriate to invite them down to one of your sessions to film and maybe do some interviews with you. Radio doesn’t have the same restraints, so you might invite them to come and meet you in person or you might be able to do a phone interview while they are in the studio. For written and online media, that’s when the punchy email is most appropriate – but if at any point you are unsure about the best approach, send them an email explaining your story and asking them what you can provide them to help them tell it.
What off-track activities could teams get involved with to help build a portfolio for themselves?
Carrie: “We’ve discussed before how social media can help document your journey, both the good and bad moments. It is a way to market yourselves to new audiences. Maybe you might want to look into new things like graphic design or run some competitions to get your school or your community involved in the team as well.”
Chris: “Perhaps you can also take your car to local events such as fétès or carnivals. Go and exhibit your team and tell your story - how you are all collaborating, and your learning journey.”
Carrie: “Greenpower cars are eye-catching and draw attention. People will stop and ask what it is and as soon as they hear what you’re up to, I think you’ll have them hooked.”
Marketing seems to bring everything together, do you agree?
Carrie: “Absolutely. It’s the reason why you invest so much time in identifying who you are as a team, so you can go and showcase yourselves in the best light possible, and marketing, branding, social media and sponsorship all play a role in that.”
Chris: “Marketing is the umbrella that they all fall under, and it’s critically important. In all my experience in sport, often people get caught up in the engineering aspects of the team and making the car faster. But marketing is an integral part of what they do, and unless you’ve got that marketing then what is the team? You have to tell the story too.”
You can watch the full PitStop Chat on our YouTube channel, as well as enjoy the other videos in the series.