How to market your football club: Know your fans

Posted on: September 6th, 2019 | by Laura Murdoch | No Comments

Last Updated on: 1st September 2023, 10:58 am

So, after last week’s post, you’ll know precisely who you are as a club and where you want to go. Now, to grow your club, you’ll need to know who you’re trying to reach. Are you wanting to market yourself to new fans? Do you want to reconnect with your existing fans? Could you do with a marketing push to bring in new sponsors? Or maybe you’re just looking for extra volunteers? Your marketing strategy depends entirely on who you’re sending your message to.

Target Market

You’ve got your brand sorted, so now what? One of the first steps to any decent marketing strategy is identifying who you’re trying to reach out to. Get as specific as you possibly can and work out exactly what kind of person you want to bring in to your club. For example:

Meet Dave. He’s a lifelong football fan in his 40s-50s. He went to football games with his father and has passed on his love of the sport to his children. He’s a big part of his local community and used to play for the local team when he was a kid.

So, how do you draw Dave into the club? What can you offer him that will get to become a loyal supporter? Maybe it would be worth speaking to Dave’s sense of nostalgia and reminding him of experiencing football with his father? Can you try and recreate the same atmosphere at your games as Dave will remember from those days? Or create vintage style posters to bring the memories flooding back? You could encourage him to create the same memories with his children. Is there any way you can get behind a local cause to become a stronger part of your community?

It all depends on who you are targeting and what you want them to do. Not every club will be reaching out to Dave. Not even every team within your club will be reaching out to Dave. If you’re looking to recruit new players or new volunteers then you’ll need to think about the kind of people you want in your club. Where is the best place to reach them? How can you engage with them? The main point is, there is no point in trying to promote yourselves if you don’t know the kind of person you’re trying to reach.

Football fans

Supporter Experience

It doesn’t matter whether your supporters have been loyal to you for years or are first-time spectators, you need to make sure that their experience with your club is perfect. A top-notch supporter experience is one of your most powerful marketing tools. This ranges from the information available to them, match-day experiences, and follow-up communication.  Don’t assume that people know everything about you. Make sure it is obvious to everyone who you are, what you offer, and how they can get involved. Also, provide all of the information for families, such as directions, parking, and how child-friendly your club is.

The best thing to do is walk-through the supporter experience from beginning to end. Do this for both a new and existing fan so you can better understand their needs. What do they need to know and where can they find it? Does it need to be more visible? What more can you do on match days to cater for their needs? For existing fans, ask yourself how they might feel more involved in the club. Fans want to feel valued and appreciate it when their experiences reflect their passion.

Football fans watching a match

Listen to your supporters

All of the most successful organisations talk to their customers. They understand that to grow, they need to know what matters to them and sometimes involve them in decision making. Consumers expect companies to be transparent, invite scrutiny, and reflect the communities that they are part of. Customers are much more likely to do business with a brand that shares their values.

Football clubs should aim to run on the same principles. You also have to remember, that your dedicated fans are loyal to you for a reason. They have bought into your brand, in one way or another, so you need to make sure they think it’s worth it. Making changes can revitalise a club but only if it resonates with supporters. If you want to know how best to target the people you are looking to bring in then the best solution is to talk to them. Reach out to your existing fan base or club officials. Ask them what they like about the way your club is run and what suggestions they have for you. If they think you are missing anything then its likely other people will see the same absence.

If you’re looking to recruit new volunteers, then why not use feedback from your existing volunteers to draw people in. Introduce your dedicated team of workers and let them discuss what it is that they enjoy working with you. Show who you really and give your club a sense of humanity and family. Your target market will be more likely to respond to you if they can connect with you. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to impress new sponsors, it helps to know what their principles are so you know whether you’d be a good fit.

And why not reach out to potential supporters to gain their feedback? Offer a few people the chance to come to a match in exchange for an honest review. They can let you know about every aspect of your club. Ask them to look at your website and social media to see what information you could offer before the game. Get their feedback on their journey to the game and their experience at being at the match. It’s important to get an unrestricted view of what it is like to experience what you have to offer from an outside perspective. This will show you any areas that you may not be fully utilising.

Paper men in a chain

Your Community Presence

One of the greatest ways to engage with new people is to strengthen your presence within the community. Depending on where you are based, you might be fighting for people’s attention or just be situated away from people. So, how do you stay in the spotlight and let people find you? There are countless different ways to connect with your local community; it’s just a case of finding out which one works for you. This is about seeing the value of your club beyond itself. You need to know how it can fit in with other people and how that might help you grow.

Whether you start fundraising campaigns for a local cause or work with local schools, having a more visible presence in your community will bring in new fans. When you start to think about the purpose of your club as more than just winning matches you will see that you begin to grow. Although to achieve this properly, you need to be committed and genuine. Trying to take advantage of your position for your club’s gain is not the right way to go. Why not hold an open day where fans and sponsors get to meet everyone involved? Put on a whole host of activities and competitions to get people involved. Maybe give fans the chance to watch your first training session? This will give loyal supporters the chance to see more of their club but it will represent your values to the community.

After all, football clubs grow best from the support of their fans. As much as you want to focus on what’s happening on the pitch, you need to show that you care about what’s happening off it. Show your target markets that you’re more than a football team and they’ll help you grow.

What next?

Now that you know who you’re trying to focus your marketing efforts, it’s time to start building your community of fans. Check our next post for some tips on how to use social media marketing to help grow your club.

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