They’re the vibrant purple team often dominating the rugby league in Victoria, and after implementing a loyalty scheme called Lightning Rewards and getting their heads around strategic marketing, former marketer of NRL team Melbourne Storm said it just saw the brand loyalty skyrocket.
While Melbourne Storm didn’t have a branding issue, said Mike Billing at the Global Loyalty Conference in Melbourne on Thursday, it was just a bit ‘meh’ when it come engagement. And it’s this discontent with being ‘meh’ that had Billing chasing further engagement.
Here are some hot tips to takeaway for sports marketers from Billing’s strategy – both in the loyalty rewards program (a points based program for prizes) and the overall marketing strategy.
In between games
Website was key
There’s no denying the importance of a good website experience in today’s world, especially when the majority of people will head someplace else if a webpage takes more than three seconds to load. And particularly being an asset the company owns, it’s an easy one to commercialise – through sponsors and advertising.
Don’t batch and blast
When it came to the Lightning Rewards program and welcoming new members, a batch and blast approach was useless, said Billing. “It needs to be personalised, it needs to be based on the events and activities that people are doing in that program to make it work.”
For sporting teams such as Melbourne Storm, social is critical. “It’s a market place where we need to evangelise and talk more about the brand, get people excited about what the Melbourne Storm experience is.”
At the game
Melbourne Storm only has 12 home games a year, so a short window for the brand to connect with fans on home turf, said Billing.
People spend more the earlier they get there
One of the interesting findings from research, said Billing, was that people spend more on merchandise, food etc the earlier they get to the game. Around 30 to 40 minutes is considered early attendance. While Melbourne Storm early attendance for fans was sitting around 64 per cent, after implementing a ‘bonus points’ challenge where people could win more points on their rewards card by coming early, this increased to 94 per cent early attendance, said Billing.
Billing developed ‘smart cards’ for fans, which he likened to the Myki/Opal transport cards in Melbourne and Sydney. “You can load your credit on there and spend it cashless at the stadium.”
While many of the strategies tested – including the rewards program – worked, Billing said it was important to embrace failure. You’re not always going to succeed and you need to learn from your mistakes. “The word ‘fail’ is just one you need to embrace.”
How often have you heard ‘we constantly have to innovate, be agents of change, move forward’, “reality is, that’s not a clear road that you’re going to roll down”, he said.
If you’re a sports marketer, make sure you check out the Ministry of Sports Marketing conference, which we’ve got the full program for you right here.