We all know how important attendances are for clubs from an experience point of view - no one likes sitting in a half empty stadium, and more importantly, from a revenue point of view. For some of our clients, match day attendances can account for up to 28% of their total revenue (and that’s excluding season ticket holders).
Many of the problems we hear centre around how much time and effort needs to go into creating these match day campaigns week in and week out. Also, how measurable is the return on investment, particularly from traditional above-the-line media? The goal is both; increased efficiency and increased revenue from match ticket sales, read on to learn about:
- The common fails of matchday marketing
- Examples of best practice from around the world
- Top tips for Commercial and Marketing Directors
Fail Number One: Creating completely new concepts for each match.
It’s Halloween, Christmas or Valentines Day so we need to create a themed campaign for the match, right? Wrong.
Research shows that it takes consumers seeing a message multiple times before they begin to register the message. So if your club is creating a new look and feel each time and you have a tight media budget, the chances are that your fans don’t even know you’re advertising for an upcoming match.
Moreover, if a designer or agency has to create new visual concepts each time their bills will be higher and your teams time investment in seeing ideas, making changes, getting final production will be hugely time intensive.
Front load the creative concept during the off season. Create a master visual style which will remain constant, but change the headlines on a match-per-match basis.
Your fans get used to seeing your ads and the recall increases for every campaign. While the visuals should be kept fresh for each campaign the only big change is to copy which is much easier to amend, thus keeping agency fees lower and freeing up your team to work on other higher value tasks.
Man Utd are the masters of this commitment to simple, premium and consistent design. From images on social media, through to the marketing of their products and services, Man Utd know how to increase affinity and recall with their marketing output.
Fail Number Two: Relying on traditional media to create a response.
As a consumer you receive over 20,000 advertising or brand messages each day*. How many can you remember today? Probably none. (*Source - SJ Insights, September 2014)
It is difficult to measure traditional media effectiveness, and is a broad brush approach to speaking to large target markets. We’re big fans of traditional media when used for the right campaign, but tight budget match campaigns are not one of them.
Use your database to create direct response. Not all clubs have a data strategy in place, but it is a critical part of engaging with your fan base. It is five times cheaper to talk to an existing customer than a new customer*, and tactical data led campaigns through email, twitter, facebook and youtube are far more effective when targeting specific audiences. (*TARP Worldwide, May 2013)
We’re most likely preaching to the converted, but the benefit is that you’re now talking to a captive audience of fans rather than a passive audience of disinterested consumers.
Fail Number Three: Telling people what, not why.
Unfortunately, many clubs tell people that the match is on at a particular date and time against an opposing club, but forget the most important part - why should the fan care, and why should they part with their hard-earned cash for a ticket?
Consider the emotional reasons fans have for coming to your next match? They want to share in the team's success? We got beaten by the opposing team last time and it’s payback time? This is a crunch match and they WANT to roar the team on?. All purchasing decisions have an emotional driver behind them, so move beyond functional messages.
Customers of sport are unlike the customers of nearly every brand out there - they are already highly passionate and energised. By tapping into that passion you’re building a deeper bond with them, and the deeper the bond, the longer the relationship - the greater the revenue yield per customer.
The Toronto Raptors embraced their northern soul to mobilise a country around their franchise, by tapping into the passion and pride of Canadian sports fans. Read more about #WeTheNorth here.
Fail Number Four: Not including your sponsors in your campaigns.
Sponsors can bring a lot more to the table than just a chequebook. The number of times we’ve heard that a sponsor hasn’t done anything with a sponsorship is frightening (We’ll look at how to engage your current sponsors in another post soon).
Sponsors can help you sell tickets, especially when you have additional capacity and seats to fill. Often they require support and guidance in understanding a club's fans and in our experience react positively to proactive direction from their partners on shared objectives, including selling tickets.
Sit down with your key sponsors, understand their objectives and find the common ground where they can talk to your fans and you can talk to their customers.
The sponsor can bring additional reach through their media spend, while you can still control the messaging and brand values of your club.
Turning to one of our own clients, we worked with Leinster Rugby and Canterbury when it came to helping Leinster Rugby sell season tickets for the 2015/16 season. Considering that season ticket holders are usually the most dedicated and engaged members of the fanbase, it made sense to give Canterbury a platform to talk to this group about shirt sales on the dedicated Leinster season tickets microsite - www.leinsterseasontickets.ie. In return, Canterbury contributed to the investment required for the development of the microsite, thereby allowing Leinster to increase their overall investment in promoting and selling season tickets for the 2015/16 season.
Match tickets are a valuable part of the revenue drivers for any clubs and as such, a season long plan should be put in place to insure your club is ready to tackle the ticket sales issue when and where necessary.
Our Top tips for commercial or marketing directors during this pre-season planning phase:
- Get your database in order - It can be a long and expensive process but it will save a massive amount of time and money in the short term.
- Front load the creative process now - So you’re not creating week-in-week-out campaigns during the season.
- Relook at how you spend your media budget - When you start to use your database within your campaigns your reliance on expensive media will decrease.
- Do Fan Forums - Why do they go to matches? Tap into their emotional reasons for attending. Use this in your creative.
- Sit down with your Sponsors - See how you could work together.
Patrick Murphy is Business Director at Atomic Sport. Atomic Sport is a specialist sport advertising agency and works to increase revenue and reach for clubs and sports organisations across all of their assets.
To discuss this article, or talk to Patrick about Atomic Sport, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.