During March Madness each year, there are upsets and buzzer beaters that shock the world of college basketball. There is also typically a “Cinderella” story each year, where a lower seeded team continues to win and advances much deeper than anyone expects. That team this year has been the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers.
Beginning the tournament as an 11th seed going up against a 6th seed in Miami University (FL), most would think it a foregone conclusion that the highlight of their year was simply making it to the tournament and this would be the loss that ended their season. Yet, that was not the case. Loyola pulled off the upset of Miami (FL) and followed up that shocking victory with more wins over 3rd seed Tennessee, 7th seed Nevada and 9th seed Kansas State – which advanced them to the Final Four.
Although the team has had this great success on the court thus far, the “star” of the team has not played in one game. Following the first upset victory, Sister Jean arrived on the scene – the national sports scene. Sister Jean is a 98-year-old super fan who leads the team in prayer before each game. While fan is one way to describe her, it’s only one part of what she does. Her team chaplain duties date back to 1994. Thus, she has witnessed more than a quarter-century of the team’s basketball history as the school’s chaplain.
Sister Jean’s involvement and visibility with the team has thrust her into the national media as she has appeared on some of the largest television channels including CNN and ESPN to name a few. Following each game, she is interviewed right away, as fans are interested in what she has to say more than the players or coaching staff. Her involvement with the team is continuing to create buzz around the school, and more and more people are following the school just because of her. Loyola is now creating Sister Jean branded shirts, bobbleheads and socks, and the sales are already surging.
While the basketball team has had great performances throughout the tournament, Sister Jean is what sets this Cinderella story apart from any other that we have seen. Similarly, while your brand’s performance is key, in order to create buzz and generate demand, you need that differentiator that sets you apart from the rest of the pack. That’s where your marketing comes in. How are you capitalizing on your brand’s unique assets to create your own Cinderella story?