Just because people are talking about women’s sports clubs and teams online, does not mean that they are actually buying tickets or merchandise from them. And just because FC Barcelona and The Lionesses are setting new attendance records, it does not mean that the average women’s club is seeing record or even full attendance at their games.
This, unfortunately, is the sad reality in sports right now. Online hype, buzz, or whatever you want to call it does not necessarily translate to commercial success through ticket sales. That is why it is crucial for women’s clubs to be more strategic in leveraging the current positivity.
Don’t get me wrong, the ongoing buzz is a good thing. There are many brands within the sports industry and other industries who would be willing to pay a fortune for this type of publicity. Women’s clubs are therefore at a huge advantage. The key, however, is not to let this moment slip by, but rather to grab the bull by the horns and leverage this current momentum so they can skyrocket their ticket sales.
And why stop there? Women’s clubs have the potential to sell more merchandise than ever and negotiate sponsorship agreements of higher value.
The Women in sports: beyond the hashtag initiative
About a year ago now I started the ‘Women in sports: beyond the hashtag’ initiative. A great part of the work I do within that is helping create tangible value for women’s clubs. And what is more tangible than increasing ticket sales, right? I believe that commercial success for women’s sports is the key to levelling the playing field. There can’t be any true or real equality without monetary success. That is why I am so passionate about creating tangible value for women’s sports.
One of the greatest privileges of my career thus far has been working closely with Lewes FC, who are the first and only professional club in the world to pay women the same as men and allocate resources equally between their men’s and women’s teams. I feel very passionate about supporting Lewes FC in all of their goals because their approach to sports and equality is so forward-thinking. And, to be frank, more clubs should follow their lead.
Lewes FC, just like other clubs in this space, enjoy a lot of publicity. And ticket sales and attendance figures are good. However, even though attendances are decent, they do not reflect the publicity the team gets, meaning ticket sales could be much better. This problem is common for the majority of women’s clubs that are not attached to huge brands such as FC Barcelona and national teams like The Lionesses.
So how do we solve this problem? How can women’s clubs use the current buzz around them to skyrocket ticket sales?
The four fundamentals to selling more tickets than ever before
Every time I have conversations with any sports clubs, especially women’s teams, I always emphasise these for fundamentals:
1. Grow your supporter base, continuously
2. Collect supporter data with contact information and merge it with your sales data
3. Find out which supporter segments you should target with your ticketing campaigns
4. Send out relevant ticket offerings to those segments in a way that your supporters will really appreciate
These fundamentals work together and are an ongoing process. Each is as important as the other. But let’s dive deeper into them.
Grow your supporter base, continuously
This should be easy because all eyes are on women’s sports today. The publicity is there. But often clubs aren’t thinking about this in the right way. For example, most think that having thousands or even millions of social media followers is enough. This could not be further from the truth. It is crucial that you turn your social media followers into known contacts in your database. That way, you can target them better with your ticket offers.
Collect supporter data with contact information and merge it with your other data
When you focus on growing your supporter base it means you will have your supporters’ contact information, such as email, phone number, birthday, etc. But the magic is in merging this with your other data, such as sport consumption behaviour data, social media engagement data, and fan engagement behaviour. This is a game-changer.
Let’s say Stacey is a huge fan of your club. Just following these four fundamental steps will help you know the kind of tickets Stacey buys, how often she buys them, and how much she spends each time. You will also know whether Stacey buys merchandise too and the frequency, recency, and monetary value of each purchase. It gets even better: you will also know what she is likely to buy and what she is interested in buying when you look at her web behaviour.
This step is crucial because it will help you target your supporters with the right ticket and merch offers.
FC Barcelona have broken attendance records in recent times but not all women’s clubs are selling out their games
Find out which supporter segments you should target with your ticketing campaigns
Not all supporters are the same, which means they will fall into different segments, such as season ticket holders, high spenders, low spenders, passive supporters, infrequent purchasers, and families. So it is important to know which segments your supporters fall into and what offers that segment wants. For example, offering a low and infrequent spender a season ticket at full price is the same as spamming them, because the chances of them wanting that specific ticket are very low.
Send out relevant ticket offerings in a way that your supporters will appreciate
Once you know who your supporters are, their overall behaviour when interacting with your club, and the segment they belong to, you can finally send out the relevant ticket offers. But it has to be in a way that they can really appreciate. Some prefer email, while others prefer SMS or WhatsApp. This is where all the work you have done so far in merging all your data really shines through. You can personalise your messaging ensuring that your supporters really appreciate each interaction they have with you.
Why do these four fundamental steps work so well?
Whenever anyone thinks about selling tickets, they are thinking along these lines:
1. Selling out
2. Selling out often, if not all the time
3. Making real revenue every time they sell out, meaning they didn’t need to heavily discount ticket prices to reach full capacity – or that they didn’t have to spend a fortune on marketing relative to the revenue generated from ticket sales
4. Being able to cross-sell and up-sell before, during, and after the game. This will boost sales and revenue generated from other products such as merchandise and matchday products like food and beverages
And that’s what makes these four fundamentals work so well. To all women’s sports clubs out there, let’s not let this buzz pass us by. Let’s use it to sell more tickets than ever before.
The Women in sports: beyond the hashtag initiative helps move the conversation around women’s sports from being solely online to creating tangible value through real strategic action both online and offline. Click here to be part of the action or listen to our podcast to hear from thought leaders and industry leaders within the sports industry.