Innovate or Die in the Off Season – Adrian Blackburn

August 2, 2013

The challenge for sports clubs now is that they operate only 5 to 10% of the year. The time has come to ensure that off season doesn’t mean shutting up shop and heading for the beach. Once the season starts you are stuck with what you have set up and the structure you have put in place. 

The minute you can’t affect the here and now you must think about the future. If you do things the same way you will get what you have always got. 

When you are sitting on a multi million pound asset then why not think outside the box. How many people would rather look out on a professional sports field than gazing out of a Premier Inn meeting room window. You might be used to the surroundings but no one else is. Stress how exciting this is to the customers they will be bringing, sell the sizzle not the sausage. 

The minute the season shuts down get customers playing on the pitch, fans playing tournaments or even build relationships with other stakeholders by playing your own competitions. The pitch is getting ripped up or refurbished so sweat that asset. 

If you are a smaller club then don’t try to compete with the big boys simply find a niche and exploit it. All businesses are trying to grow their revenues but they might not be able to afford to advertise on TV or with a massive club so offer a marketing solution that replaces local radio or newspaper advertising. 

Look at every other venue be it sporting or otherwise and see what they do, take your lead from other fields that might be related or unrelated. What do other venues do with their facilities and how can you steal their ideas?

Competition for marketing spend has never been greater so make the decision a no brainer. Offer more eyeballs than other marketing channels, use social media, e-marketing to show that out of season doesn’t mean you are no use. 

Rather than trying to offer massive partnerships break your offering into affordable, manageable chunks. Bite size marketing solutions. Get more out of your existing partners whilst adding additional ones at the bottom of the pyramid. 

Once you have exhausted the off season think about what you do during the season and how it can be more exciting, complacency can be a killer and once the crowds and revenue have gone it’s too late the horse has already bolted. 

However when one season ends the next one is a new chapter and needs to be embraced and innovated.

Adrian Blackburn  is the Head of Corporate Relations for Bolton Wanderers FC. Adrian is responsible for all business to business sales including matchday hospitality, sponsorship and advertising.  He has worked at BWFC fr five years and also held a similar position with The Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club.

Adding experience in the Financial Services sector he worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland as Product Development Manager for their £2 billion insurance division with a real focus on innovation with brands such as Tesco Finance, Virgin Money and Natwest.

In 2003 he graduated from Leeds Business School having studied for an MBA.

Adrian Blackburn’s isportconnect-profile-widget
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