Ben Wells is the Managing Director of Well Said, a consultancy that operates where sport meets technology and strategy, and author of white paper ‘Build it and they will come: A sporting commercial model for the digital age’. Previously Head of Marketing at Chelsea FC, Head of Commercial at Reading FC and currently a on a host of boards as an advisory member (including the European Sponsorship AssociationSEAT – Sports & Entertainment Alliance in Technology, FanAI and Stadia Ventures), he is well placed to offer advice on how commercial sports rights holders can better leverage ‘digital’ to generate real returns. As he says in the white paper’s opening gambit:

“Let’s get straight down to brass tacks: we think most sports organisations are undervalued. That is because, in our opinion, most sports organisations have not yet fully understood what ‘digital’ is and what it could mean for their commercial models.

All around us businesses that have harnessed the power of new technologies and marketing methodologies have built dynamic, exponential high-margin revenue models.

Of course, many of these businesses were established only in the digital age and so it is unfair to make a direct comparison. However, we believe that there is much that can be applied to reshape our rigid, analogue model, driving better long-term customer relationships that translate into improved revenue models, a more attractive sponsorship proposition and ultimately the pathway to broadcasting our own content.”

Here at Strive Sponsorship we share many of the same views as Ben and wanted to share his sage insights more widely. Resonating with us, with more details available in the report were points like:

  • Digital is not a standalone vertical, it permeates everything
  • Key is ownership of your customers, great content and the means to distribute that content to your customers
  • Google’s “Generation C” behaves like no other. If you don’t create experiences that appeal to them, they simply won’t be interested
  • Why outsource your engagement strategy to social media platforms who don’t share their revenues with you?
  • Invest the time and money to build equity in your brand. Brand equity can be the difference between a ‘volume’ and a ‘margin’ business
  • Marketing is not a cost-centre, it’s your most potent commercial weapon
  • Don’t think of sponsors simply as sources of short-term revenue … they should be accelerators of your own strategy
  • Brands don’t always want media value any more: they want to connect directly with your customers and are paying Facebook, Google and others for the privilege and not cutting you in. Offer brands what they want to buy, not what you want to sell
  • Your data capabilities should allow you  to convince potential new sponsors of the likely returns before they sign the deal. Brands want to see genuine (business) ROI potential
  • A data strategy is an absolute must. How can marketers work out what customers want if they don’t know who they are, how they behave or what they’re interested in?
  • Your data strategy will help reduce the constant need to sell. Sponsors may actually start to become the sellers
  • The customer experience is paramount. People are more aware of value-for-money than ever and at the same time have more competition for their time and money
  • Get mobile. This is not about creating another channel to try to sell to them, it’s about matching up smart analytics with the ability to communicate the right offer at exactly the right time
  • A good data strategy will enable you to distribute tailored content rather than just pushing the same piece of content on every available platform
  • Smart brands are demonstrating how they add value to people’s lives. Tell that story, appeal to more than just your core audience
  • Why focus solely on the matchday/event crowd when the majority of your potential audience is not actually there?
  • The fastest growing companies – with the greatest growth potential – are those that own their customers, have great content and have the means to distribute that content to their customers
  • Staff are your greatest asset. here is no point in having a great strategy if your employees aren’t aware of, don’t understand or don’t buy into it

Click here to download the full ‘Build it and they will come: A sporting commercial model for the digital age’ white paper.