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  • Writer's pictureOli Shawyer

Brand matters... so much (Part 3)

In the previous two posts (one here, other here) I touched on the commercial reality of a strong brand, and then covered off top-line that to deliver on that commercial reality, you need to build a strong brand by being different and distinctive.

Now I want to talk about the burning question on everyone's lips... but how much does this all cost?

The bad news is that I can't actually answer that. But I can give some guidance.

I think it’s fair to say that in many organisations, there are still substantial question marks hanging over the value of spending money on advertising and promotions. Particularly anything that isn't heavily sales focused (with a CTA that generates results right now). And albeit you've likely had many conversations and served up many presentations to showcase the dire reality of not properly investing in advertising and promotion (i.e. in sport this could include showcasing a declining supporter base, declining consumption, declining engagement), not spending and investing in sophisticated strategic media plans to drive visibility and Share of Voice flies in the face of the number one objective for brands, particularly sport clubs - delivering growth.

If you manage the smaller share brand in the market, like I do at Port Adelaide, because of having a smaller supporter base, you'll attract less new fans and have slightly lesser retention than the market leader (Double Jeopardy Law). If then not investing new and lighter audiences, your more involved and engaged products like membership (or Season Ticket Holders) will continue to decline Year-on-Year (because no-one will refill those naturally churning). And your resulting market share compared to the market-leader will continue to grow further apart. Ultimately accelerating the decrease in supporter base, further impacting attendance, ticket sales, membership sales, commercial investment and broadcast support.

On the basis that Share of Voice drives Share of Market, to grow market share you need to be more visible and present in-market. Given that earned media tailors to the majority, and owned media isn’t likely large (or growing) enough, the only way to effectively increase Share of Voice is to invest in paid media properly that has broad and frequent reach.

An over-reliance and over-reactive focus on 'loyalty' will not deliver growth in Share of Voice, impacting growth in Share of Market and the resulting outcome of growth in revenue. It’s just not achievable. Whilst current heavier supporters, particularly those further up the fan development curve purchasing 11-game Reserved Seat memberships (or Season Tickets), are vital, penetration is the main driver of very large business effects. The biggest opportunity for growth comes from taking people from buying the product zero times to buying it once. And only a long-term outward focus will bring these broader and bigger effects needed, of which brand plays a huge role:

Whilst I can’t dictate how much to spend without proper rigour and consideration (and ideally support from media strategists and planners), the optimum split in investment between brand-building and sales activation is on average 60% brand-building, 40% activation. Invest less than 60% in brand activity and the brand equity required to generate future sales will not accumulate.

Final comments.

Whilst on paper it all makes sense (it always does), the reality is that increasing the understanding of brand across the Administration - what it is and why it's so valuable - is a process. It takes time to take people on that journey, and not everyone will always understand. So be patient with yourself (I really should take a page out of my own book). And if anything, just start having the conversations: why brand matters, why it's commercially pivotal, why being different and distinct matters.

The same for investment. There is a heavy reliance on digital and owned media in sport, and there's value in it all, but in taking an analogy from football, lift your eyes and look past the next few days, weeks, months. Think years. While short-term sales activity brings in dollars now, long term brand building brings in sustainable profit. Using the 60:40 rule of thumb to guide you, just start somewhere.

Any questions, thoughts, feedback - hit me up!


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