Next season, the club finishing bottom in the Premier League will earn a guaranteed £100m in revenue.
Think about that for a moment. £100m.
What a massive opportunity that represents for every football club in the UK’s top-tier to consolidate their commercial offerings and for marketers in this space.
Clubs now need to start looking to the future by dedicating time and resource to build better links with their most important stakeholders: fans and commercial partners.
If they move now, they can open up new commercial and marketing streams that will become significant when finally, broadcast income reaches a plateau, and strengthen their relationship with fans in the process.
Digital is the best channel
It is my view, therefore, that the digital marketing space is where clubs need to concentrate their time, money and effort.
The Premier League is the world’s most popular domestic sports competition, and has made its clubs into huge global brands with fanbases spanning every corner of the world.
What do clubs know about these fans, and how do they reach them? It’s the perfect time to find answers to those questions and, again, the digital space is where the opportunities lie to do that.
Clubs need to seize the opportunity to build on their relationships with fans in all areas where they engage with the club
Though Premier League clubs have, over the years, invested in this area through the likes of club TV channels and language-specific websites, there is huge potential to improve the amount and quality of engagement.
Fans want digital platforms that enable them to express their fandom, and see them rewarded for doing so, whether that’s through exclusive content, tickets, merchandising they can get for free or at a discounted rate, or support towards a club charity.
Is gamification one answer?
If a club approaches this digital engagement in a targeted, gamified way, they can create digital platforms that provide a better understanding of their fanbase, both at home and abroad – not only who they are, but where they are and what they like.
After all, that fan within a mile of the stadium will have a different relationship with the club than his or her counterpart living thousands of miles away.
Clubs like Everton – full disclosure, they are a partner of ours – understand this and have been early movers in this area.
Not only are they creating digital platforms that increase engagement with fans, they are also creating platforms that deliver detailed information about their preferences, which can be used to deliver intelligent, integrated, targeted and cost-effective marketing campaigns both for themselves and their sponsor partners.
And as anyone working in any industry will tell you, when engaged customers (fans in the case of sport) are targeted in accordance to their preferences, they’re more likely to purchase.
If football clubs – or any sports team for that matter – are able to develop digital offerings that engage and reward, it can create a whole new tier of digital sponsorship.
The Premier League faces huge amount of competition from rival entertainment products, all of whom are marketing to the latest generation of potential fans.
Clubs need to seize the opportunity to build on their relationships with fans in all areas where they engage with the club – particularly online – and unless they act now, they’ll be regretting it in the not-too-distant future.