Love it or loath it, there will be no escaping the return of Premiership Football this weekend.
Thousands of people, young and old, will spend hundreds of pounds on tickets, travel, shirts and match day programmes as they support their team with a passion – something the majority of brands and companies can only dream of creating.
So, what can marketers learn from football (and other sports for that matter)? Quite a bit, I think, and here’s four points that immediately spring to mind.
Easy to understand
Football is a simple game. Yes, the offside rule might confuse some, but essentially everyone, even if they don’t watch football, follow a team or dislike the game, knows what the teams are trying to do: put the ball in the net more times than the opposition. All of the teams approach this goal in slightly different ways but the objective is straightforward.
Can you say the same about your product or service? Many businesses fall into the trap of over-complicating the benefits of their product or service. Yes, sometimes, products do really complicate things, which is all the more reason to make sure you can explain what you do and what you do differently and better in easy to understand terms.
A shared experience
Football brings people together. Whether it be 80,000 at Old Trafford or 800 at Gainsborough, people watch the game together. It’s a shared experience and for some, what happens off the pitch is as important as the game: meeting friends, sharing opinions, catching up and having a laugh, it’s not all about the product.
Is it possible for brands to copy this? Yes. Think of your shop as a football ground. Is it easy to get to? Does it look good? Does the décor match your wide branding and design work? Are your products easy to see? Do people like visiting you?
The shared experience extends beyond physical things like stadiums. There’s a collective passion for the team. Some brands apparently come close to replicating this emotion – ‘Apple Fan Boys’: people who are so passionate about the company, they have to have the latest device.
A lot of people, much more intelligent than me, have written about how following football touches humans’ natural desire to be part of a ‘tribe’, a group of like-minded people, with the same values and a common interest.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if your customers had the same feelings about your product or service? What could you do to connect with your customers? How could you engage with them and build a community they feel part of? A bit of social media activity perhaps?
An evolving story
Football is an ever-evolving story. When one season ends, it’s only a couple of months until the next one starts. Even in the close season, things are happening. Yes, football is the national game, and the back pages are dominated by it but this is because the clubs are very good at creating and issuing stories. Keeping people interested and committed requires regular communication with them. This is true for all brands – not just football clubs: turbine manufacturers, potato growers, cafes and restaurants: all of them need to keep their ‘fans’ engaged.
A life-long commitment
Football clubs work incredibly hard to gain the attention of young people. If they start supporting a club at an early age, there’s a strong chance they will stay loyal for life. From sales promotions – kids go free, £1 seats or free season tickets for Under 12s – the football clubs know that once a parent and their children have experienced a game together there’s a strong chance they’ll be back. It doesn’t matter if the team lost, there’s always next week and another special offer or incentive just round the corner.
How many businesses would like to have life-long customers? What can you do to attract new people? How can you make their experience so good that they keep coming back again and again (and even if, sometimes, results don’t quite go their way)?
There are lots of other things we, as marketers, can learn from football – the importance of pricing, managing bad news and disappointing results, adding other products and services to complement the main offering and bring in additional revenue and maybe we’ll look at those in a future column.
So regardless of whether you’re a season ticket holder, an arm chair fan or dislike the beautiful game with a passion, if you’re involved in promoting a business or service, thinking about how football clubs, like Manchester United and Real Madrid, have grown into some of the world’s most profitable brands could be well worth 90 minutes of your time!
Around this time two years ago Facebook was full of people pouring freezing cold water over themselves or others. This summer, it appears the #22PushUpChallenge in aid of Combat Stress is the latest awareness campaign to capture the imagination. But why? What has made these two campaigns so successful?
As someone involved in marketing, I am always trying to make things as simple as possible. If you want people to buy your product, dine at your restaurant, choose your IT company over another, then you need to give them clear and persuasive reasons to do so.
The simpler your messages, the easier they will be to communicate to people. What the ALS ICE Bucket Challenge and #22PushUpChallenge campaigns have done so successfully is to identify what their most persuasive key messages should be. Then they came up with a simple, accessible, easy and shareable way to communicate those messages.
In the case of the push up challenge, a US Marine decided that because 22 veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commit suicide each day, he would raise awareness of this by filming himself doing 22 push ups a day for 22 days. He published the videos on Facebook. After seeing the videos, lots of other people decided to do the same; most likely for several reasons.
They wanted to support a worthwhile cause – donating to Combat Stress or funding research into Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neuron disease.
Perhaps, it was because both activities were fairly simple things to do – pouring cold water over someone or doing push-ups don’t take long to set up and the instructions are really clear.
There’s an element of enjoyment and fun in both, especially watching the expressions and reactions of someone when ice cold water hits them! The light hearted nature of the campaign and the use of video are ideal for sharing across social media. The footage and photos taken by onlookers was perfect for YouTube, Instagram and Twitter as well as Facebook, which further increases the campaign’s reach.
Both campaigns gained momentum quickly as there was a sense of urgency. In the ICE Bucket Challenge people had to act within 24 hours of being nominated, which allowed the campaign to spread. The push up challenge is more of a commitment but people are doing it and 22 days highilghts the number of daily suicides and increases the chance of people seeing the videos.
A final thought, is that both campaigns make people feel better. Participants are helping genuinely good causes and having a good experience at the same time. There’s also a sense of community, being part of a group of people all taking part in the same activity. Receiving that nomination invites you to join the community, which is a very powerful motivator – we like to be involved in things that our friends are doing and don’t want to be left out.
Capturing people’s imagination and encouraging them to participate in something is really difficult and for every #22PushUpChallenge or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge there are lots of less successful campaigns but by keeping things simple and trying to include an element of fun, urgency, sharing and reward you’ll have a better chance of engaging with people.
Our success in promoting Festival800, a city-wide celebration of Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, has been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).
Our campaign for the cultural response and celebration of Magna Carta, which took place in August 2015, has been shortlisted in the Best Integrated Campaign and Best Arts, Culture and Sports categories of the CIPR PRide awards, which celebrate outstanding Public Relations activity across the UK.
Organised by cultural solutions UK on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Festival800 offered ten days of live music, comedy, spoken word, street theatre, lectures and debate. Artists such as Billy Bragg and the Levellers; author, screenwriter and comedian Shappi Khorsandi; YouTube sensation Alfie Deyes; Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, DBE, FRSL; were joined by a host of national and international artists and human rights activists, including the family of US Civil Rights Icon, Rosa Parks, in Lincoln for the festival.
David Lambert, director of cultural solutions UK, who appointed Lava to the brief said: “With such an eclectic cultural programme we needed an equally eclectic team of professionals to reach and engage the potential diverse audiences. We could not have secured the services of a more switched on, professional agency. Lava surprised us in all the right ways. They worked with us to create an innovative marketing campaign within budget and on time. It was a fantastic relationship! I wish them every success at the awards and hope to work with them again.”
Established in 2006, Lava is no stranger to success in the PRide Awards having won eight Gold and Silver awards since 2009. “We are about to celebrate our tenth anniversary and two more awards, our ninth and tenth CIPR Pride wins, would be fantastic birthday presents,” says Lava’s managing director, Matt Hammerton. “We have a particularly strong track record of delivering effective campaigns for clients in the arts and cultural sectors. We’re really looking forward to a trip to Leeds in November and hopefully adding another two trophies to our collection.”
The CIPR PRide Awards recognise the best in public relations across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. Over 1,000 entries were received from freelancers, agencies and in-house teams the length and breadth of the UK.
Lava, which is the only agency from Lincolnshire to be shortlisted, will find out if they’ve won either award on 24th November.
At the beginning of the week, all the talk about Manchester United focused on their cancelled game against Bournemouth.
The team’s many sponsors will understand the media attention on the discovery of a suspicious package within Old Trafford but quite a few people will be disappointed that their promotional plans didn’t come off.
Social media giant, Twitter, celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday (21st March). To mark the occasion, we’ve put together our top ten tips for SMEs wanting to get the most out of the platform!
1. Make sure you can be found
Twitter has come a long way since CEO Jack Dorsey posted his first tweet in 2006:
With 974 million accounts worldwide, Twitter’s ten-year milestone highlighted just how far it’s come in a relatively small space of time, but with so many people using the platform, how do you make sure your business is easily found?
A lot of it comes down to a searchable handle, i.e. your Twitter username. Strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is vital for your page’s popularity and making the journey to finding your account as stress free as possible.
This also applies for the bio section, as it’s a good idea to use appropriate hashtags within your description so anyone searching, for example ‘#Lincoln #Construction’, would come across your page.
Top tip: make sure your business name is included in the @ of your username. If you want to change your current @ handle on Twitter, simply go to the account settings tab on the top right of the page and change the username listed in your username field.
2. Clear branding
First impressions always count, and it’s the same for Twitter! Make sure your profile looks as professional as possible by using a correctly sized logo and cover photo that doesn’t look distorted or blurry. You want your page to be visually appealing, as well as informative, to capture your audience’s attention.
Top tip: a picture paints a thousand words! Sum up what you do as simply and creatively as possible. Our @WeAreLava account is the perfect example:
3. Link to your website
Make sure you add your website’s URL to your bio. This gives your audience the opportunity to easily research your services further with just the click of a button, which, in return, could win you new business, increase your sales and help you network virtually within your industry.
4. Upload photos
You want your content to be as visually inviting as possible, when people are flicking through their news feed, an interesting picture or other form of multimedia is a sure way to make them stop in their tracks and delve a little deeper by clicking on your Tweet.
5. Use the lingo
Twitter was created to be concise and snappy, so to get the most out of the platform, speak in its language. Tagging other companies in with the @ symbol and using appropriate #s will increase the reach of your Tweet and give you a more dominant voice when interacting online.
If you find where to use @ or # symbol’s confusing, a good rule of thumb is: @ = tagging other people in # = key words.
Top tip: use the search bar and type in either your company’s name or relevant keywords to see who’s talking about your business. This could open up an interesting conversation or help find Tweets where people have forgotten to tag you in!
6. Tweet regularly
The more you post, the more familiar people will be with your product.
If you don’t have someone specifically in charge of your social media, it can be time consuming to post informative and engaging content whilst trying to juggle your other day-to-day jobs.
Top tip: write your social media content a week in advance (as well as on the day if you can!) This will free up time and ensure your page is always filled with interesting posts.
7. Be in the loop!
The Moments tab on the top left of your screen is a useful new tool that Twitter has rolled out to make the platform a hub for news and information.
Top tip: is there something groundbreaking or newsworthy happening in your industry? Has someone written an interesting article commenting on the subject? Retweet it! This will keep you up-to-date in terms of news and creates the image of being proactive within your industry, as breaking and topical news topics will be featured on your page.
8. Be sociable
Social media is meant to be sociable! If someone interacts with your business, try to make the time to respond, favourite or RT as a form of acknowledgement! This gives your business an approachable and friendly image that, in return, will increase customer loyalty to your brand.
Top tip: if someone Tweets a complaint about your business, reply politely and ask them to direct message you. This will stop your interaction from being in the public domain and will show the person complaining that you’re trying to resolve the issue.
9. Grow your audience
Are you trying to grow the amount of followers you have? A good technique to increasing this quickly and with no costs at all is to follow other relevant accounts. From competitors, clients and local media to companies and figureheads in the area, people usually follow back, so put the time in and you’ll reap in the rewards.
10. Enjoy your account!
When writing your social media content, try and think like your audience. Do you find the Tweet you’ve just written interesting? Would you click or engage with it if you weren’t connected to the company? Try to answer ‘yes’ to these questions and the energy will ooze out of your account, making it an exciting and enjoyable place to be.
With these ten top tips, your Twitter has the potential to be taken to the next level, whether that’s in terms of increasing your followers or improving engagement with your audience.
Twitter’s come a long way in a decade and we can’t wait to see the platform evolve even more!