Monday, April 13, 2009

Could you sell college wrestling?

It’s confession time. I write sales letters that end up in your mailbox. Oh – I do other things, but the whole thrust of what I do professionally is that I send you, your friends and your neighbors mail with the sole intent of selling you something (or getting you to donate to a charity). Over the years I may have sold you jewelry, shoes, cell phones, pizza, sub sandwiches, ocean cruises, tractors, a plasma TV, fishing gear or a tuxedo. I might have prodded you into contributing to a veteran’s group, a youth center, a food pantry or a shelter for abused women. My clients seem to think that I’m pretty good at it.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would write letters selling college wrestling. My objectives have been twofold – how do we save all of the programs we have now and how do we get more colleges to offer wrestling as a varsity sport.

There are several keys to successful sales letters. First you must write to just one person. Sure, you might be mailing thousands of them, but letters only work when one person writes to another person. This requires that you know as much about your audience as possible and then “talk to one of them” just as if he or she is sitting in your living room. Selling college wrestling requires separate messages to at least four different people.

You have to convince Rosemary Titleix about the true meaning of opportunity. Eliminating one person’s access to intercollegiate athletic participation builds no opportunity for anyone. Progressive, cooperative thought must replace dogmatic rhetoric.

Pat Killwrestling (and administrators like him) must be sold on the value that wrestling brings to his institution. For many enrollment-driven colleges the equation is fairly simple. Adding wrestling can immediately bring in 25 – 30 new students – and another 15 – 20 if someone has the courage to add a women’s program. Not only can the additional tuition and fee revenue exceed the cost of the wrestling program, the potential for future alumni support increases with every additional enrollment.

You need to get Aaron Sportsjunky’s butt into a seat at a wrestling event. He may not like it once he gets there, but you can’t really attract him as a new fan until he experiences the sport.

In these times, the most important letter just might go to Max Dollars. College wrestling needs financial support. Look at the reality of recent history. The University of Oregon, Fresno State, Arizona State, Wagner, Portland State, Slippery Rock, etc., etc., etc – all announced the elimination of varsity wrestling. Which school rescinded the decision? Arizona State – because Art Martori and other donors guaranteed enough money to save the team. Every school in America needs its own Art Martori. If one isn’t readily available, he or she must be recruited and sold on the value of college wrestling.

If the future of the sport depended upon it – could you sell college wrestling to any one (or all) of those people? You can? Well then – here’s your opportunity. Write a sales letter for wrestling and send it to me at by April 30, 2009. I’ll pick four finalists and post them in my May 4th blog. Blog readers will then vote. The contest is open to anyone that reads the blog. The winner will get two wrestling season tickets for the college of his/her choice.

Here’s a tip to help you write the letter. You must convince the reader that there is a benefit to him or her.

Share your thoughts. The future of the sport just might depend upon you.

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