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Monday, 11 July 2011

Are you ready to rumble.....?

For the first time in a while - I won’t be getting ready for a new season as the autumn approaches....  For the past 10-100 years I have been spending my spring/summer (and many months before - more on that later) - preparing a sports club for a new start...  Each new season brings new hope, new expectation, new demands....
Much like each week sees a new game - and a new focus, so does each new season wipe the slate clean (just about) - and you should approach each one with excitement.....
Provided you have done (and are continuing to do) all the work required.....  It may surprise some that the ‘off season’ is more often than not the busiest time of your season (certainly for the back office folk) - with a review of the season just gone, an assessment of existing partners and ideas, and then planning and implementing the new changes (and same olf stuff) for the new season.....
When do you take a holiday then??  Quite......

The prep work will have started quite possibly years in advance (with player contracts impacting 3/4/5 years budgets away, with sponsorship deals overlapping seasons - there is plenty that is long term) - so you need a good calm head to oversee the season prep....
Especially when the 9 month countdown begins.....  Season Tickets  / memberships to be launched well in advance of the new season (best practice would be before the end of the prior season) - a summer long campaign of pushing season tickets, and driving membership numbers will lead into the game 1 campaign as the fixtures are announced.
Your marketing plans for the season will have been reviewed and signed off (by Board, Chairman, Shareholders, owners) and you will have your marketing partners ‘armed and dangerous’ - with their ideas, and their action plans well before you need them...  Your window to promote is actually pretty small once the season gets going - so you need to start ‘on fire’ and make sure that game 1 is a ‘monster’....
Match day activation gets a refresh - chat through with the ops staff / check that the police / security / stewarding relationships are good (might be turn to benchmark some of the existing relationships) - new ticket-stock (for new sponsors or new league or new ticket system - weehee!! - maybe).....
All your sponsors should have been locked up well before a new pre season starts - else you will be scrambling for their sponsorship activation requirements (sigage etc) when the season starts.... But the summer will see you spend time with your existing sponsors, warm them up for renewal for the future years to come (at an increase please)..... You will have hospitality to sell - but if you do your job right through the prior year - you have lots of relationships that just need to sign a “Yes please, we want more” form....  (sales is tough - see earlier piece).  But even if you everyone locked down and have sold everything - the owners will want to see some creativity (new products / new ideas / MORE MONEY) so get busy....
Of course, the off season will see time for planning future years - you need to keep your owners happy, well appraised of the direction the club is going in, whether there are any funding (or other) requirements - is the coach happy?? / do we need some last minute extra players?? / anyone need “moving on” - and a good ownership relationship is the most important one you must work on - so keep things years (not months) in advance as much as possible.....
The supporters are the loudest and largest group you have to manage - so make sure your summer comms are well planned, and well executed.....  Social Media is a great asset to build your brand now - and with more and more supporters online, and active - use your relationships to build the lead into the season...  Some great creativity to drive income and attendance is what you want know (organized for launch at the appropriate time)....  Did you find time to undertake supporter feedback prior to your decision making for the new season???  if not - then make sure you pitch your plans right!!!   A supporter is like a glass of wine - keep it full (with information, communication) and sip from it regularly (match tickets, season tickets, merchandise, ideas, information, feedback) - then you can only go wrong if you ‘take too much’!!
We have not even touched on the Team and their needs (coach will be planning just as big a start as you will be).....
There is lots to do.......  Why are you wasting time reading this - get on with it....


NOTE - if you are NBA  or NFL following a similar route - keep doing what you are doing - you will just have less time than the rest of us!!!

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