The Next 100 Days

Thursday marks 100 days until the Ole Miss-BYU football game. So Ole Miss will unveil 100 improvements it plans to make in the gameday experience before kickoff 2011.

It's basically the response to the fan football survey from a few months ago.

"The results will be out Thursday," said Michael Thompson, Senior Associate AD/Communications and Marketing. "The reason it's taken so long, we went through all the results and I wasn't putting results out there before we knew what we wanted to do. The last four to six months we've been figuring out what the solutions are to the data."

Thompson explains further the 100 plan for the summer.

"That's 100 things that are listed word for word; 100 things that will be different this year," he said. "I just did not want to put any kind of raw data out there until now. Yes, we listened, and this is what we're going to do about it and this is the action we're taking. They're all getting done. This is an important piece to the whole puzzle."

Thompson said the items and the answers vary greatly and are all important.

"There are several on sound, concessions, tickets, gameday central on the website, the band which is moving to a new section, video content, restrooms, new cheers.

"Here's one example. An attendant will be present at each and every restroom, making sure they are stocked properly, if there are leaks or repairs needed, those kinds of things. New sinks will be added where space permits. New baby changing stations, more trash cans, things like that."

Thompson said there was no holding back, and the transparency talked about from Ole Miss athletics comes through in this report.

"We're putting some stuff out there and publishing it. That's the way it is," he said.

"We're not pulling any punches. I want people to realize that. The key is getting the information, putting it out there, and doing something about it to make the experience better."

Starting this week and next, more marketing of the Rebels will be visible throughout the area and state. Billboards will be used in some areas, and fans may already see them in place.

"I've talked about how important it is to look at marketing and advertising as investments, and look at ways to measure it and track it and understand what the value of it is," Thompson said. "We have an objective. We want to sell out season tickets and rally our fan base. How are we going to re-sell our current customers, and how are we going to get new customers?

Michael Thompson
Bruce Newman
"We looked at attrition rates, we looked at new customer percentage rates, we looked at all kinds of different things to understand what kind of message we need to put out there, where do we need to put it, and what frequency do we need it, and how are we going to measure it. For the renewal audience, you have to really put that injection of pride and chest-beating and passion and fire. You have to really give our current customers something to rally around. Marketing can do that. We've seen that happen in other places."

Ole Miss wants and needs new ticket holders as well. Thompson said there is planning for those people to join the Rebel ranks.

"For potential new customers, it's important to communicate to people out there that might be looking for an entertainment option, or just moved to the area, or just want good SEC football," he said. "You look at the whole entertainment industry, and it's a helluva way to enjoy a Saturday cost effectively, when you think about what you get. It's hard to beat. You're talking about an all-day event that if we do our job right will be a tremendous experience."

Thompson said other survey results, one already done in basketball and one upcoming in baseball, will be made public as well.

"This is just the football survey," he said. "Basketball is a lighter survey. The football one was extensive in terms of the amount of data we got. And it's taken some time to get it right."

Thompson has spoken to several groups and alumni meetings the past few months and will continue to do so this summer. He likes that aspect of his job, meeting the people who are interested in and love Ole Miss.

"I've been out there through phone and email," the Ole Miss alum said of getting to know the fans the past nine months since he arrived on campus. "They know me that way. I think communicating with fans that way is just one of those pieces. I love going out and meeting people face to face. It's great putting faces with names or email addresses or message board usernames."

Thompson admits there likely have been few school years that might have been more difficult to begin a journey like the one he accepted last summer. Throw in the mascot situation the past year and there is yet another dynamic. Rebel, the new mascot, may make some alumni meetings this summer and will be more visible this fall.

"We're in a trying time. We've come off a tough year from an overall perspective. As an overall portfolio, it was hard. I spend a lot of time on things that if we were winning I may not spend a tremendous amount of time on. I try to talk to everybody that calls. I try to listen. Just take some time with them. What a crazy, tough year it's been to start in this role with marketing and PR and image.

"We will win again," he said of the future of Ole Miss sports. "There's no doubt about that."

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