DIGITAL MARKETIN CAMPAINGN PLAN REPORT
Digital Marketin Campaingn Plan
Formed in 1887, Wycombe Wanderers (WWFC) is the biggest football club in High Wycombe. After spending a few years in the lower levels of English football, the 90’s saw the club promoted into the top-flight football. It currently plays in the third tier of English football, commonly referred to as the league 2. The club plays at the Adams Park, which has a capacity of close to 10,000 spectators. In an average day, however, the club’s stadium is usually half-full, with the number going lower if the weather is not conducive for outdoor activity .
The goal of this digital marketing plan is to increase the number of fans who associate with the club. This is because a large percentage of the club’s income comes from expenditure by the fans. An increase in the number of fans will translate into better financial outcomes for the club.
WWFC is currently the largest football club in the High Wycombe area. There is no other major competitor when it comes to football. The other players in the industry are small sports clubs, with few members compared to the fans that WWFC has. An argument can, however, be made that the casual fans who are the target of this campaign are members in some of these other clubs. The goal here will be to pull more of the fans into the field, through making them develop a close association with the club.
Some of the competitors for WWFC include Totteridge FC, Holmer Green Football Club, Marlow Football Club, Burnham Football Club, Amersham Town Football Club and Taplow United FC. Other competitors include Downley Dynamos Junior Football Club, Flackwell Heath Football Club, High Wycombe Rugby Union Football Club, Penn and Tylers Green Sports and Social Club and Flackwell Heath Minors Football Club .
The WWFC functions within a wider umbrella of the English football league. The leagues were formed early in 1888 and have grown from 12 teams to have more than 90 football clubs plying their trade in four top divisions in the UK. The English football industry has undergone changes over the years to become one of the most competitive and attractive leagues across Europe.
The micro and macroeconomic forces in the industry
A number of micro-economic forces, which are internally oriented, affect the wider football industry. This report employs a model suggested by Grant (1998) that suggests tools to use in conducting an internal analysis of the market. According to Grant, four important aspects define the competitive ability of a player within an industry. These are the firm’s values, goals, and objectives . This report, therefore, looks into the model of having a competitive ability as the one to use in studying the micro-economic environment for WWFC. Values are an important aspect that a club in the football industry needs to have, these refer to the principles that have been identified to drive all the clubs activities. In WWFC for instance, its values include the importance attached to family and the community. Having clear organizational values enables the organization to develop a competitive capability.
Another key aspect of the micro-economic environment is the nature of the goals and objectives that a club has. Goals and objectives give an organization a sense of direction, with all stakeholders encouraged to act towards the achievement of specific targets. In a football club, it is imperative for the players and members of the coaching staff to pull towards the same direction, to ensure the club’s success. The goals may include playing in the top-most league, or winning of titles in the current level. Another internal factor that determines the ability of a club to develop a competitive edge is that of resources. Resources here can be viewed from a number of perspectives. First are the tangible resources which consist of buildings and other facilities. Intangible resources include the prestige and the culture fostered within a club while the human resources refer to the staff and personnel available for the club. In a highly competitive market, the efficient use of resources enables some players to excel where their competitors fail .
In any competitive market scenario, having a competitive advantage means that some players get higher profits in the market compared to other competitors. The football industry is highly competitive, and the ability of a club to bring together the four aspects highlighted above determines whether a club is competitive or not.
There are a variety of macroeconomic forces that influence the behavior of players in the British football industry. These forces can be understood using the Porter’s Five Forces Model. According to the model proposed by Porter, factors such as competition within existing players, competition from new entries, the impact of alternative products, and the bargaining power of both the suppliers and buyers influence the behavior of players in the market. The British football industry has undergone massive changes and has consistently overcome significant challenges to arrive at the position it sits today. An example was the case of the Hillsborough ground in 1989. Here, close to 100 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in a football stadium. The English game was also characterized by other controversies such as fan hooliganism and poor attendance by fans .
The industry, however, managed to overcome these problems and is currently one of the world’s biggest sports attractions, which is worth over £1 billion. This has been brought about by massive financial investment into the clubs by investors and proper marketing procedures that have attracted worldwide appreciation from football fans. Most of the English clubs operate as public companies, and this has enabled them to gather the funds necessary for further improvement .
Digital platforms available
Currently, the club has a Twitter following of 39,000. This is a very low number, considering the kind of targets that the club has about the future. By improving its presence Twitter, the club will be able to wider reach to the casual fans. Some of the most prominent clubs in the UK have a following of over a million. A brand like Manchester United has a very active Twitter account, and this can explain its success over the years.
The next platform is Facebook, where the club currently has close to 20,000 likes, with the ability to reach close to 60,000 people. This is a very rich platform to use in the digital marketing plan for the club, given the number of subscribers that Facebook as a site has. In addition, there are other platforms such as Google +, the club’s website, YouTube, and Instagram. Given that the club already uses these sites, it is up to the club to increase and improve the activity in these platforms.
The decision to use digital marketing as a tool to reach more of the casual fans is a strategy that is informed by the realization that the football industry is undergoing a revolution. The digital age, according to most observers has revolutionized how people interact with each other and the environment around them. The era has changed the means through which the consumers obtain products and services .
The digital world in itself is changing rapidly, with innovations coming in each day. The football industry has not been left behind, with some of the biggest players in the industry embracing the digital platforms as the most efficient way to keep in touch with the people. Digital marketing, therefore, is a tool that WWFC should embrace in an effort to improve the number of fans who frequent the matches at the Adams Park. The current goal of getting the casual fans into regular and diehard fans can be reached through digital marketing. Through carrying out of programs highlighted later in this report, the club will be able to arrive at a bigger number of people.
Research into the trends of information uptake by consumers shows that the era of the traditional consumer is rapidly coming to an end. Currently, the consumers are broken down into three groups: traditional consumers, digital converts, and digital natives. The three groups embrace the digital era differently, with the latter being fully immersed into digital activity. According to projections, the digital natives, will be the group that dominates a large percentage of economic activity. By 2017, it is expected that the traditional means of communicating to the consumers will be irrelevant since the consumers will be majorly the digital natives. The implication here is that WWFC needs to be futuristic in its thinking, and begin using the different digital platforms as the avenues through which the interaction with fans is done .
Football is already a victim of the digital waves. There are various ways through which digital marketing is currently applied, with activities such as online merchandising and ticketing being some of the major ways through which football clubs use different digital platforms. Through social media, the clubs have been able to foster close relationships with fans, by keeping them informed of occurrences within the club . This use of the digital platforms can only grow, and the move by WWFC to engage in an extensive digital marketing campaign to pull the casual fans is a step in the right direction.
The millennials, who are the new generation of fans, are digital natives. They are individuals who were born into a digital world and are unlikely to be responsive to traditional approaches in marketing. They represent a fan base that has very high demands on quality and experience. These fans do not want to interact with the club via one platform. They are ready to watch live matches, stream them online, share the club with friends across the globe and use a variety of devices to accomplish all this. A club needs to be willing to be able to meet these technological expectations if it expects to attract more of the casual fans onto the stadium. This presents an opportunity for football clubs to offer a personalized footballing experience to the fans . This can be realized by having a closer relationship with the fans, an aspect covered through digital marketing.
The target of this digital marketing campaign is the category of fans referred to as the casual fans. These are individuals who pledge their allegiance to the club but do not attend football matches regularly. They are individuals who are likely to be put off from coming to the field by bad weather. This marketing campaign seeks to turn the casual fans into regulars and club fanatics. These are the groups of fans who are heavily involved with the club when it comes to attending matches and buying of club merchandise. While a football match lasts for only 90 minutes. The modern day fan needs to engage with the club more. The digital marketing plan will, therefore, be rolled out to make the club more attractive to the casual fans while their desire for more interaction with the club is fulfilled.
The general campaign message will be making the close interaction with the club possible. An aspect that differentiates the casual fans from the other fans who are more involved with the club is the level of involvement with the club.
The digital marketing campaign will give the WWFC fans more reasons to engage more with the club. The campaign will also seek to foster a communal effect in the High Wycombe are, where the club’s success will not be just a football issue, but success for the larger community. In addition, the campaign will deliver the message that the football experience persists beyond the 90 minutes in the field. It persists to include the interactions that fans have with the club throughout the week.
Applying the RACE Model
The RACE model is appropriate in conceptualizing the digital marketing plan that WWFC will run. The model looks into how digital marketing can be approached systematically, through four steps . The first aspect is where an organization improves the awareness of the target audience for the services being offered. In the case of WWFC, awareness of the footballing experience served at the club will be advertised mainly through social media and the club’s website. The second stage is act, here; the consumer is involved in the marketing process. In this campaign, for instance, the fans will be encouraged to share information through social media to their families and friend.
Convert is the third step in the RACE mode, and it entails eliciting the required response from the target audience. In this case, it will involve duly making the casual fans transform to be more involved with the club activity. The last step will be to engage, where the relationship established between the club and the casual fans will be made more permanent .
Digital marketing rollout plan
The WWFC digital marketing plan will be rolled out through a set of five strategic activities. The first one will be the establishment of the club’s synchronized social hub. This is a platform that will enable the club to convey messages to its fans through various social media platforms. This will enable the casual fans to have a closer interaction with the club, especially during days with no matches. The club will try to attract traffic to these sites by posting regular and up to date information. In addition, the fans who will not be able to attend the live matches will be given the option to be at the stadium through Google+. By portraying them on the big screens as the matches go on, the fans will feel to be part of the club .
The next move of the digital marketing campaign will involve the promotion of the sale of replica jerseys to the fans. It is through jerseys that fans are more attached to the players in the field. The club will invest in bold marketing through mainstream media and social media, to explain how fans can obtain the jerseys. Colorful broadcasts in both social and mainstream media will inform the fans where to purchase the replica jerseys.
The club will then develop a mobile application, through which the fans will be able to access the material offered at the club’s website at the comfort of their homes. Here, the fans will be able to get ticketing services and other official activity. Besides, the app will allow the fans to engage in fun activities such as competitions to win autographed merchandise. All this will be geared towards keeping the interaction between the club and the fans alive while improving the attachment that the fans have to the club.
Next, the club will invest in a digital campaign that targets the young kids. The club’s website will develop a portal that targets the young people. The portal will enable them access pictures of their favorite club stars. In addition, the young WWFC portal will advertise youth fun days and soccer tournaments. All this will be done to make the club feel like a community. The end goal here is to reach not only the kids but also their parents or guardians who may be casual fans.
Key performance indicators
There are three key performance indicators of the success of this marketing venture. In any form of strategic planning, the planning team needs to identify indicators of the success of the strategies put in place .
The first performance indicator will be the nature of influence that digital marketing will have. The impact will be measured by the kind of traffic that will be seen on the company's website.
Another key indicator will be the number of fans who buy the season tickets, and who attend the matches regularly. An increase in the fan numbers will portray a success for the campaign.
Another key indicator will be the kind of interaction that the digital marketing campaign will foster. This will be measured through the online conversations that will mention the club, in addition to the ability of club-related hash tags to trend.
It is worth noting that the needs of football fans have changed over time. Currently, the fans require the club to be closer to them and keep them engaged between match days. The implication here is that WWFC needs to adopt various digital platforms as the means to foster fan engagement. Given that some of the players such as Luke O’Niem have a cult following among the fans, the club can use the players’ social media platforms to be closer to the fans. When such engagement is achieved, it will be possible for the casual fans are transformed to be either regulars or fanatics.
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