The True Horror Story For Sports Marketers
* Attention, reading in spooky & dramatic voice required.
Strange things happen at a stadium if anyone is attentive enough to notice. We want to tell you one story, in particular, The True Horror Story (for Sports Marketers).
It happened long ago, enough for names to get lost in the history. One of the top football clubs of that times hired a bright & prospective Commercial Director - Josh. Josh was giving hopes to become the Commercial Director of all times, being absolutely brilliant, smart, likeable and trustworthy. At least that's what everyone thought of him.
But the things were not in his favour. Few weeks into his role, one of the main sponsors pulled out. Investors and other sponsors started questioning club's ability to deliver results. It was time for Josh to act and act quickly.
'It's my time to shine. I should use sixth sense more, as what's the point of relying on the data, therefore on the situation that I'm going to turn around.'
Completely disregarding analytical approach, Josh headed straight to business. He never cared much about the fans, what's the point if they going to turn up anyway. Fans were there for passion, energy, it was given that they would be there. And Josh treated them more like a background, a thing that didn't deserve much attention. Fans reward was in the sole fact of getting the chance to attend games.
So he cut the budgets for matchday experience and neglected communication efforts. The marketing department was instructed to spend as little time and efforts on fans as possible.
To keep the club floating, Josh signed dozens of sponsorship deals, often controversial but who cared in the times of crises, thought Josh. He even got praises from colleagues for doing a great job in sales.
Fans started reaching out complaining about the mistreatment. But Josh could see the stadium full every game, so he ignored complaints, but instead raised ticket prices.
They gonna turn up anyway, thought Josh
Sponsorship activations on the matchday were the only thing to keep fans engaged. But sponsors could only rely on a foot count, which everyone thought of as a good enough metric.
In just a few games, fans were bored of freebies and logos stuck at every corner and were just passing by, not even looking at what was happening. Which still worked for the club and partners: they didn't bother to measure engagement, a pure number of fans attending was enough.
By the end of the season, Josh was proud of himself:
he managed to keep the club going, with a full stack of sponsors, full stadium. Team performance was also great.Sun was shining again on Josh's street.
Josh left for a much-deserved vacation, feeling proud of the work he'd done. But things were doomed to go wrong again.
Season tickets didn't sell at all the following summer. No wonder, with fans experience ignored, satisfaction metrics dropped down. But no one noticed celebrating short-term success. Sponsors signed up earlier, realised potential leverage in the opaque agreements. And started to ask for more and more exposure, that wasn't easy (if at all possible) to deliver.
By the time Josh was back, club's management made their mind: Josh had to take full responsibility for the situation.
Josh was long gone from the club, but things were already broken.
Controversial agreements signed for years ahead, lost fanbase and no sense of community are hard to fix once broken.Over several seasons the club was drowning and had eventually lost its position and had to close down.
The further fortune of Josh was lost in history. Some people say he became successful in advertising sales, some say they saw him working at the takeaway shop, some that he was living in the streets.
But until today, the ghost of Commercial Director can be seen at several stadiums. He appears all of a sudden, wearing suit & tie, smiling and looking confident. He is rather friendly, especially to those staying late in the office. He goes straight to the Commercial Director desk, looks at the documents and pretends to work. But most of all he likes to give advice and many listen, out of fear or curiosity.
Till now no one knows why he comes and what he wants. But his advice never turns out good for the receiver. He preaches ignorance to data and disregard for fans, repeating:
'They gonna turn up anyway'