K-State AD speaks to Sports Marketing class

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Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor spoke with the public and students in the Sports Marketing class (MKTG 630) as part of a speaker series in the business building Thursday. Taylor discussed his career and experiences at other universities, relating them to the need for good sports marketing.

Taylor said during his speech there is a great need for marketing. While working with Jack Lengyel, former athletic director for the United States Naval Academy, Taylor said he gained knowledge on how to market sports with a losing team.

“I learned a lot from Jack,” Taylor said. “Jack always said, ‘If you wait to market your athletic program when it is winning, you’re too late.’”

During his 15-year run with the United States Naval Academy football program, where he worked under a losing teams for 13 seasons, Taylor said sports marketing became about everything but football: jet fly-overs, jumpers and march-ins. Football became a thing for the fans, Taylor said, whose excitement brought the team to the Aloha Bowl. When the football team began to win, ticket prices exploded.

Taylor said he took Lengyel’s determination and philosophy with him to North Dakota State, whose program moved from Division II to Division I under his tenure.

“[It was] the most difficult decision I ever made,” Taylor said. “But I am glad that I had that experience.”

Taylor described how he had seen marketing evolving and changing by using data and analytical research to push the envelope and come up with out-of-the-box ideas. For example, Taylor said utilization of email, social media, surveys and follow-up calls allow K-State fans to rate their experience.

“We care a lot about our fans,” Taylor said. “99 percent of our fan base is satisfied, but there are still 500 fans that we are striving to make their time better.”

Taylor said nothing was better than a full student section, no matter where K-State was playing. Marketing is continuing to help brainstorm ideas to keep the younger demographic of students engaged during games and keep the streak of consecutive sellouts at Bill Snyder Family Stadium alive.

Jake May, senior in marketing, said having Taylor as a guest speaker in the class gave him “a good perspective about how the content they learn in class relates to the real world.”

Doug Walker, associate professor of marketing, said he was thankful for Taylor’s time.

“[Taylor] gave a lot of expert insight about the subjects we learn at a deeper level that really helps the students grasp the material,” Walker said.

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