We’re almost done with this year. This horrific year. It’s been difficult to remain positive and that’s just one of the many reasons why I’ve yet again not been as active with writing website pieces as I’d hoped I would be at various points throughout the past 12 months.
The beginning of 2021 might not look much different to 2020 on current trajectory but hope is the key word for this piece. It goes without saying that the number one hope for so many is that fans can get back to watching matches in grounds. On a personal level it’s been great to have something to look forward to in the form of being able to watch my club on stream, but being on Zoom with my dad while we’re both watching our streams is nothing like being on the terrace next to him.
I usually love reading these lists that appear ahead of a new year. Usually titled “Sports Marketing Trends for [insert year]”, they’ll definitely include a big advancement in technology, like AR or VR, and how it’s going to be huge. If VR becomes the next big thing in Scottish football in 2021 I’ll stop Sports Marketing Scotland activity.
I did have a think about a few things I’d love to see our clubs up and down the country do though, so here’s my thoughts.
There wasn’t any on-pitch action for much of 2020, yet we’ve seen rivalry and seethe to match any other year in Scottish football. Statements, votes and everything in-between finally gave way to action on the pitch and so far in the 2020/21 season we’ve seen some shoots of encouragement in our clubs working together for the good of the game.
Dunfermline Athletic and Alloa Athletic formed a “Pandemic Partnership” where they shared facilities at the Indodrill Stadium in a safe environment. I’m not sure whether that’s continued in the same vein as the season has gone on but the fact that those two clubs are current divisional rivals but came together at that time is a huge positive for me.
In recent weeks we’ve seen another partnership formed between two of our clubs. This kind of strategic partnership between Hibs and Stenhousemuir makes perfect sense for me, especially with the loan rules being tweaked for more from one club allowed. They’ll be plenty of eyes on this one to see whether it works.
🤝 Hibernian FC are pleased to confirm a new strategic partnership with @StenhousemuirFC.— Hibernian FC (@HibernianFC) December 22, 2020
🗣 “I’ve nothing but positive things to say about those involved in this partnership from Stenhousemuir and look forward to progressing the relationship.” @gmathie82
While neither of these partnerships are necessarily focused on marketing, I’ve long been an advocate for our clubs working much more closely together for the greater good of Scottish football. Off the pitch, it would be great to see more clubs break down the rivalries and share best practice with each other.
Marcus Rashford. That’s it, that’s the sentence.
The Manchester United forward was awarded an MBE for everything he’s done this year in battling with the government to provide free meals for school children. It’s been majorly impressive seeing everything he’s achieved and how he’s used his platform to be a force for good.
I’m not suggesting that a Scottish-based player should rise up and start taking on major corporations but our players have the potential to do good. Many of them do already. For Pure Fitbaw I’ve spoken to Sam Wardrop and James Craigen. During lockdown, Dumbarton defender, Sam took his love of fitness and turned it into a business, he’s helping clients change their health habits. Alongside a contract with Arbroath, James got a new role with LAPS, Life After Professional Sport, which aims to help professional athletes into new roles and careers after their current ones have ended. They’re both building personal brands for themselves that go beyond whatever club they play for. Look what Si Ferry has been able to do with Open Goal as well.
Fans, and even non-football fans, connect far more with individual players compared to clubs. Players are people, they’re human too just like me and you. If they’re able to build a brand for themselves then excellent. If our clubs can try and harness that player power, then they’ll be onto something too.
I mentioned Open Goal there and it’s gone stratospheric. You’ve got A View From The Terrace doing another great run on BBC Scotland. Fan-run websites and podcasts focusing on our game as a whole and our individual clubs have gone from strength-to-strength this year too. The levels of access for fan media is opening up too, our clubs are beginning to embrace it even more than before.
On a personal note, being one half of the only podcast purely focusing on the Scottish Championship, the Pure Fitbaw Pure Championship Podcast, we’ve been able to take our coverage of the league up a notch this season as we’ve built relationships with a number of the clubs playing in the league. It’s been great to be able to shine even more of a light on just how good the league is.
As more fans flock to fan media, it’d be wise of our clubs to do the same and treat them in the same way they would with the more traditional outlets in Scotland. Especially as those continue to chase clicks and keep themselves floating above the water.
Data, Data, Data
If you’re a season ticket holder of your club, then they’ll hopefully know plenty about you already. If you aren’t, or have never been, but have been tuning in on their official streams so far this season then they’ll have been introduced to you for the first time data-wise.
I’m very interested to see what clubs are going to do with the data they’ve been collecting this season as we’ve all signed up for the various club streams we’ve watched so far. Will we start receiving targeted emails promoting club merchandise? Will they know we’re a fan of Club X and give us a prompt to buy the stream in the next fixture against them?
This is probably my stretch hope for 2021. There’s plenty of resources out there to help clubs with this one, but I’d say that nobody has really cracked it before now, It can take time and resource which we know is often where ideas go to the graveyard in Scotland. Not to end on a negative but, hey, let’s be a little bit realistic.
Thanks for following Sports Marketing Scotland across 2020, whether you’ve been a visitor to the website or just follow on Twitter. You can find me being more much more active on the Scottish FA’s Scottish Football Marketing Podcast.
In 2021 I’m looking to put my money where my mouth is and help clubs out that are looking for some guidance and assistance. If you’re reading this and you want to know more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org