In one way or another, we all are marketing animals. We’re both consumers and marketers on a regular basis. Among our families, our friends, our work associates, and our team mates, we give and take information, counsel, humor and criticism. In the best conditions, we enjoy sharing relationships – that sharing can be called reciprocity:
- You help me. I’ll help you.
- You listen to me, I’ll listen to you
- You give me a gift, I’ll give one
Most sport marketers have learned the importance of reciprocity and the power it has in building positive attitude between football players and fans. Players maybe “gifted” with skills, but the gift means little without genuine fan relationship. Fans should be appreciated for their support and clubs should stop behaving snobbish – “We’ve a good team, so fan should come to watch our games.” Dear manager, times are changing and sport marketing concept should change too. Football clubs should move away from “arm chair marketing” to “relationship marketing.”
With the free links created by the explosion of information technology, fans now have more access to football clubs all around the globe. A fan in Nigeria can support a club like Manchester United in UK, and enjoy all the benefits given to fans. It’s become more important today that football clubs build a stonger bond with their fans, if they hope for any form of loyalty.
On the pro golf tour, fans interact with players more intimately than in most other sport venues. Maybe, because of the nature of football sport, fans are barricaded away from the players at the stadium and that’s not too good for bonding.
Football clubs should create avenues for their players to be more accessible to fans. Players accessibility through autograph sessions and community appearances or services, is a powerful vehicle for reciprocity. To some degree, every game should be a “fan fest.”
Fans Frequency Reward Program:
The gold rule of sport marketing goes with the assumption that “If we take care of the fan, the fan will take care of us.” Club membership is to be made free to any fan. And a special bar-coded card is to be given to the fan, which he can “swipe” at the ticket kiosk inside the stadium, thereby accumulating points for every game he attend. The more point, the more rewards he gets.
Club Affinity Program:
“Adopt our club program” is a simple partnership in which some youth associations or schools adopt a player of the club, who will visit the associations or schools and give motivational talk. In return, the entire associations or schools get a discounted group fee to attend certain games. At the designated game, the associations or schools participate in various game-day events.
Co-Branding Club with Fans:
This is a way to give fans sense of belonging. The fan is allowed to get replica Club Identity card – and the photograph where he is putting on club Jersey as well as his name will be boldly branded on the card.
The fan could also buy the club Jersey or other merchandise at membership discounted price. He can as well customize the jersey with his own name or nickname. Co-branding gives the fan a feeling the he has a stake in the club.
There are many avenues for developing genuine relationship that could lead to fans loyalty to the club. As Todd Crossett so clearly articulated: “The path to success in football sport is paved with gifts to the fans.”