Creating a marketing campaign that targets teens and children is never just about the kids. It’s really a two-pronged approach that is designed to appeal to the youngsters, but draw in the parents for the real brand conversion and sale. State Farm has been mastering both goals for years at high school sporting events across Texas. It was a natural fit to get into the local games, according to Stuart Selig, assistant zone manager for Texas at State Farm. “Football in Texas is the be all and end all. That’s where the people are on Friday nights,” he says. “So, we go where the people are.”
And the insurance brand does it to the tune of about three tours each season. Last autumn, State Farm partnered with Texas Football magazine and Fox Sports Network to get its message out to a wider audience, but the heart of the program was in the on-site events. “It can be as simple as a 10-by-10-foot tent with some games like a football toss,” Selig says. “We just put the agent to the forefront and engage the passersby” (Agencies: Youth Sports Marketing, Jacksonville, FL; Titus Sports Marketing, Garland, TX).
At the Texas high school football events where the brand has a presence, the young people are ripe for interaction every Friday night through the fall. They are usually attending with the entire family and energy is already high, thanks to the football culture in the state (“Friday Night Lights,” anyone?). To attract teens to the booth, it’s a matter of being on trend and authentic, but it is important to remember not to drive parents away with gaudy or over-the-top displays. Remember, the parents are the ones with the discretionary income, not the teens. You’ve got to walk that razor’s edge.
“Our primary target is the parents,” Selig says. “But we are also having conversations with the future drivers. We’re planting seeds for the future with them.”
One element of State Farm’s program that speaks to both audiences is the recent introduction of iPad devices for the agents to use during events. They’re loaded with instant quote software, so a few simple questions can get an accurate quote out there for parents to consider in as little time as possible. For State Farm, these are never hard-sell interactions, so the data collection and lead generation elements are paramount for future follow-up. The trick here is in the prize—it has to have a cool factor for the kids, like an iPad or a PSP, and there has to be an instant win aspect for the parents, who don’t want to wait for an incentive.
“These interactions with parents are often less than five minutes, so we have to get the quotes done fast,” says Selig. “And the devices really resonate with the teens, too.” Two birds, one tablet.
One of the best ways for State Farm to get parents on board with the brand is just to be there, Selig says. With pay-to-play programs becoming more prevalent, brands that help schools keep athletic programs open for all kids, not just the ones who can pay, really makes an impression on parents and helps present the brand in a positive light.
“We want to show our support for youth athletic events and take that chance to make impressions on future policy holders and State Farm agents,” Selig says. “Being in front of the parents at these events is an opportunity to connect with them on an emotional level you can’t always get.”