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Esports Ambassadors Will Offer Colleges A Path Forward

College esports programs have exploded throughout the US in the past few years. Across traditional collegiate conferences like the NCAA and NJCAA, since 2019, colleges have increasingly adopted esports into their athletic programs, with older programs dating back to 2014. Collegiate esports in North America likely began way back in 2009 with student organizations competing in CSL, and early adopters began to open their doors to esports as early as 2014.

As colleges continue to turn to esports for new athletic opportunities, the need to market the program and offer in-house NIL support to student-athletes becomes all the more real. Sponsorships and brand deals are the bread and butter of esports. College student enrollment is on the decline, and attracting students and corporate partners is more important than ever. With participation in high school athletics also declining, colleges must do more to attract students by winning hearts and minds from the jump.

Harness the Power of Ambassadors

Esports was born from the grassroots. With more and more non-endemic groups getting into the game, they risk being out of touch with esports culture and seen as opportunistic or disingenuous. We believe that everyone has something to add to the esports story, but not everyone has the know-how and resources to live the grassroots lifestyle before reaping the benefits.

This is where ambassador marketing shines.

Instead of relying solely on your own reputation and knowledge of the space, why not leverage other people’s experiences? Ambassador marketing in the traditional marketing world is commonplace, with the vast majority of marketers including ambassador marketing in their marketing mix. Even in the world of esports, ambassador marketing is tried-and-tested, with most amateur orgs participating in affiliate programs with all kinds of brands. But in the world of collegiate athletics? Well, the story isn’t nearly as bright. 

College athletics have long relied on their colleges’ reputation and competitiveness to attract student-athletes, and this has benefited the biggest (and wealthiest) of colleges. Even mid-tier colleges have found their place, offering competitive scholarships to attract high-performing students. But what about the smaller, regional and local schools? Surely, they have a unique experience to offer their students, even if their teams won’t be featured on ESPN any time soon.

Esports are the Great Equalizer

The first college to offer institutional support for its League of Legends team was Robert Morris University in 2014. Others quickly followed suit, and UC Irvine established itself as the front-runner in collegiate esports programming starting in 2016. 

The University of Saint Thomas, which is a private Catholic college in the quiet Houston neighborhood of Montrose, TX, made waves as the 2022 College League of Legends national champion. They’re an NCAA D3 school with just under 4,000 students, not some gigachad D1 public university. Stories like this play out time and time again in esports.

The story’s even more striking for the Collegiate Rocket League Fall 2022 National Championship. Columbia College, Northwood University, and Fisher College. These are all smaller, largely private institutions that won a combined $18,000 for placing in the top 4. The 3rd place school, Indian River State College, is a community college. It’s not all too often that we think of community colleges as competitive against private and state universities, but in esports, this is possible.

Ashland University, Maryville University, The University of Akron, Northwood University—the list goes on and on. None of these schools is top-of-mind when you think of the best of the best in traditional sports like basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. But in esports? These are the top dogs. More often than not, colleges that invest in their esports infrastructure and support the program and the students within it can make a name for themselves and redefine the norm. But to do this requires time, effort, and money upfront to build the program from the ground up. For many schools, this simply isn’t feasible and a little help is needed along the way.

Supporting Grassroots Excellence with Esportskred

It’s tempting to do the status quo, to keep things business as usual. But the consequences of failing to play the status quo at the upper echelons mean that you’re left spending endless amounts of money and dedicating endless time and effort towards a losing game.

Esports is a land of innovation —why should college athletics be any different?

At Esportskred, we’re powering the shift from traditional marketing towards a grassroots approach with ambassadors at the fore. Gone are the days when large, complex marketing campaigns required equally large, complex marketing teams. And gone is the time when colleges needed to rely on sports marketing companies that externalize your institution’s marketing and take a sizable portion of earnings. A grassroots industry deserves grassroots marketing.

This is where we shine. Esportskred is an all-in-one, end-to-end, one-stop shop for building and managing sophisticated ambassador marketing campaigns through your own, in-house ambassador network. Who are your ambassadors? Anyone and everyone with a phone and a passion for your school’s success. Players, fans, coaches, staff, alumni – the possibilities are endless.

With Esportskred, anyone within our program can run a campaign from start to finish, and your ambassadors can drive your success from the comfort of their cell phones. In addition to campaign management, we offer real-time analytics and campaign intelligence to keep you informed of how well your campaign is performing. Aggregate reports are great, but Esportskred also lets you access analytics at the individual ambassador level and post level to identify your drivers of success and target areas of growth.

Your success shouldn’t be a mystery without clear metrics or left to people outside your organization. Esportskred lets you regain control of your program and achieve success from the ground up.

Building Success Under Your Own Roof

Esports are here to stay, and colleges must adapt sooner rather than later. The old way of marketing collegiate athletics is an old model that no longer makes sense given the new world we now live in. Collegiate esports can break the mold and redefine the norm, and ambassador marketing will drive that change. Powered by Esportskred, any program anywhere can achieve greatness. Will you?

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