Everywhere we go and everything we now touch is analysed more than ever. Reviews and social comments are now driving a lot of the purchasing habits of consumers – even the word ‘consumer’ needs to change. It’s not just about consumption now, it’s about engagement and experience.

The challenges in sport are in many ways the same challenges as the business world and ‘how do we move the focus on actions that lead to outcomes?’ There is still a disconnect and the phrases of “Modern Football” and “the game isn’t what it used to be” are still too commonplace.

Fan engagement and fan experience should be at the core of everything you do and having this as a tick box exercise doesn’t work. Creating a culture that is underpinned by leadership and strategy is vital, but a lot of these ingredients is a bit like your gym membership – you don’t get fit unless you use it.

Moving focus on outcomes is important. Moving from just understanding consumption to understanding emotions and experiences is key. Personalisation is massively important in any industry, but for me, even more so in sport.

One of the greatest drivers for a fan is being part of something they love, being part of something bigger – and when that something says ‘hello’, recognises them and provides a personal message or service, things can go through the roof.

MORE THAN DATA

This doesn’t happen solely by collecting data, but more so from taking the most relevant information and turning it into knowledge, which finally leads to insights and creative activation that drives engagement and experience levels, along with ultimately the bottom line.

Long before data, we need to understand the fans needs and wants, from which we can segment and design engagement and experience strategies with the end goal in mind. Being able to segment your offering within the stadium is a very powerful tool. Keeping like-minded people together is key for driving the match day experience.

Can you imagine a seven year old first season family stand supporter in the 16-35 vociferous singing section and vice versa?  So when you design the experience, do so with a purpose and understand the wants and needs of the individuals and groups you ultimately serve.

STAKEHOLDERS ARE KEY

To successfully build an effective experiential approach, your actions and planned outcomes also very much needs people – importantly including internal people, those who on the front line who every day deliver your brand.

Beyond the reach of any boardroom strategy, they are the ones who deliver your business and its values. Their part can’t be undervalued or bolted on. Investment and benchmarking at all levels is key.

Engaging with key stakeholders, allowing them to feel empowered with the right tools and information is very powerful. For best success possibilities, we strongly advise you ensure that all staff have an opportunity at least to play their part in the design of the experience.

By doing so, they contribute all the way to the process with good feedback being provided, which can be tweaked and refined going forward collaboratively, motivating that one long-term, one time unachievable objective. With every initiative, the team need to monitor carefully and adjust strategies if unwanted behaviours are forthcoming.

TOP DOWN PRIORITIES

One area I know clubs, venues, and sports organisations struggle with when they are looking to make the leap into fan focus is Board Level Priority. How important is the fan to the organisation? Savvy executives understand that it’s not just about WHAT you deliver, but HOW you deliver it.

A top down conviction and purpose to serve the fans true needs by creating a fan-centric organisation should be made clear to every employee. However, it’s not enough to just say it. There needs to be real belief and an openness to drive change.

The championing of fan experience at this high level should smooth the way for the breakdown of red tape, allowing organisational changes needed to facilitate the delivery of the fan experience and engagement models within the business.

THE JOURNEY

Driving a club, venue or sports organisation to Fan-centricity is a long road and one that on times is a slow burn; but when delivered right turns your team into a strong proposition and the rewards are endless.

I keep saying it till I’m blue in the face, but everything should be geared towards creating authentic, intimate relationships with fans, that build affinity and drive revenues. If you are on this track keep going. If you’re yet to get on the bus, give us a shout and we can really help.

A lot of what is discussed in this article will be in Liverpool at the Fanalyse Activation Summit, #FAS17 taking place on Thursday, November 9th. Make sure to join us.

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