Every school has its own traditions and Drake University in Des Moines is no different.
Street painting. Blue oval. The Beautiful Bulldog contest. Road Races. The Grand Blue Mile. The Relays concert. Peggy’s tent.
At Drake, all of its biggest traditions happen during one week in late April centered around the biggest Drake event of the year: Drake Relays, and if you’ve been around the Drake neighborhood at all this week, there’s no way to avoid noticing the spectacle of Relays.
As a Drake graduate, Relays has meant a lot to me over the years – a chance to work on the largest student run sports broadcast in the country was a big part of why I chose Drake.
As a student, it was like homecoming, mixed with spirit week, tailgating (weather permitting) and just a non-stop party in general.
Now, as a graduate, it means a chance to reconnect with the University and the people that gave me so much, a chance to enjoy the beginning of Spring, and a chance to enjoy some of the experiences that defined my time at Drake.
And as a marketer, the Drake Relays are an intriguing example of an important concept: the ability to capitalize on your moment.
The relays have existed for well over 100 years and some of the world’s best athletes have competed right here in Des Moines Iowa – from high jumper Wilt Chamberlain to sprinter Carl Lewis and the most famous track and field athlete in the world, Jesse Owens – making the Drake Relays one of the top Track and Field events in the country.
Over the years, Drake Relays has become much more of a community event with the Road Races and Grand Blue Mile for recreational runners to participate in as well as events like the pole jump that have been held in places like Jordan Creek Mall, A Hy-Vee Store and this year will be held tonight at Capital Square.
It’s something students get excited about and alumni come back to campus for, and in turn, it’s become Drake University’s biggest annual alumni event and a huge opportunity for fundraising and Drake has taken advantage masterfully.
April started with the “All In” fundraising campaign for alumni this year, a campaign that was executed with email sends, social media posts, live videos and a phone call campaign. The All In campaign came at a time many alumni are beginning to think about and plan for Drake Relays, and was effective in getting alumni attention on social media where you would see updated totals towards the campaign goal and peers who donated and used a “Drake All In” profile picture fram.
This campaign was followed up with invitations and alumni event schedules being sent out to the alumni database.
And just look at this schedule! For about a week straight there’s never dead time. From the Relays Road Races last Sunday through the SJMC Reunion on Saturday night, there’s something for every alumni – all the time.
Drake knows that its lifeblood in fundraising is proud, involved alumni and they know that the Relays is the time they have their attention. So, while yes, Drake is in contact with its alumni year-round, they know that there is no time like Relays so they’d better make the most of it.
And with new events every year – showing off campus changes and experimenting with new ways to reach Drake grads (like downtown street painting, high jumping at Capitol square and the Grand Blue Mile Race and party through downtown Des Moines), Drake University has proven it knows what it has (a unique and truly great event) and is ready to capitalize on its moment.
Meanwhile, you know where you’ll be able to find me the rest of this week – at the Blue Oval, alumni reunions and hopefully putting in some good time at the Peggy’s tent.
Got an event you need to capitalize on with your marketing? Just contact us here – we’d love to see how we can help!