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6 March

Thinking about ... Football

Anyone who’s known me for more than five minutes knows that I like my football. Even more than that, I’m an Arsenal fan. Now some may cheekily say, not really a football fan then, but then I’d just smile and take that as further invitation to keep on talking football!

Thinking about ... my dad. He came to the UK from Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1960s, and his first flat was on the Holloway Road in Islington.

He knew there were two teams in North London, and so, the story goes, he shut his front door behind him and took a right turn… and ended up at Gillespie Road and the Arsenal stronghold of Highbury. I remember standing on the terraces aged 7; yes, I’ve been a Gooner for a while.

I’m fortunate because my strategic content writer, Jill is also a football fan. She’s Salford-born and Manchester United through and through. The other Jill in team is a huge Liverpool fan (she went to Uni there, so I can't blame her), and Carrie who was my social media engagement specialist for a while, is a Rams fan (Derby County), and so over the years we’ve had many an opportunity to banter, tease, theorise, commiserate, sigh, cry and celebrate over how well our teams are doing (or not doing as the case may be). A World Cup year like 2022 is a gift to us. The Euros last year? Like a fine red, especially with England going all the way to the final. And that’s dangerous talk for me because I live in Aberdeenshire with a Scottish husband, who conveniently supports Arsenal too.

So why am I writing a blog about football? Well, it’s always been an icebreaker for me. And we’re extremely fortunate that lots of our clients, either their senior team or their people, or both in one case, are also into their football – and sometimes that’s rugby football – but mostly it’s good old-fashioned (British) football and the teams we all adore.

Thinking about icebreakers … they’re beneficial to building rapport and gaining trust. If you’re interested, here’s a good article that provides three basics for breaking the ice with new customers.

For the record, between all our clients so far, we’ve seen the following teams supported … Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, the All Blacks* (couldn’t forget them), Juventus, Arsenal – there was even a Spurs fan, though I didn’t hold that against him! With some of our clients, football is part of the conversation. At least one client we meet with sees us discussing the football at the beginning or the end of every meeting. Sometimes some of us are louder than others but overall, for me, it’s a fantastic hobby that has made business a pleasure.

We all know that familiar saying that we end up doing business with people that we like. And it’s true. If I can’t make a business relationship work well, then it’s going to be a struggle. Sharing common interests with clients has always been a way of opening doors for better communication, and what could be more focused in that department than hearing someone share the agonies and the ecstasies of how their team is performing? It’s about having common values and interests that speak of shared human experiences.

Thinking about common ground and establishing shared interests are a great way to get the ball rolling in all manner of communications, however, like a good Premier League team, you can’t expect trophies to just appear overnight. It takes investment, good strategic direction, alignment with your values, patience, and doing the right thing over and over, leading to success following a period of hard and targeted work. Someone into football understands that we value teamwork, a good manager, how individuals shine but need their colleagues to bring success, and that celebrating the success of one is also to amplify the success of all. If you understand the game and how to play it, you build a stronger team. And we like to win.

Football teams have become huge brands since the formation of the Premier League almost thirty years ago. A few were brands beforehand and that branding has taken the English Premier League global, with football fans of English clubs found in Singapore and New York - and everywhere in between. Each brand has its own merchandise, communications platforms, values, songs, and fans. The marketing of each of those clubs is carefully built around the business plan, which could be to drive value through merchandise rather than tickets or to create enough noise and success around a player that a bigger club will want to buy them.

Building a brand will add value to your business; if you’re not sure how, you should read this blog from last year by Rebecca Battman, and she should know – I worked with Rebecca many many years ago! She says:

“Businesses are quite often sceptical of the value of strategic branding. But global household names are testament to the importance of brand.”

And in the end, that’s what I do too: build a strategic marketing plan for clients around their business plan; build relationships between clients and their customers by understanding what their customers want and what their pain points are. As every Arsenal fan knows, customers want satisfaction, so their pain is short-lived; game over, match won, problem solved, job done. Until the next season – and then it starts all over again!

HAVE I GOT YOU THINKING ABOUT what your brand means and if your core values are appropriate?

If you need to refresh your brand or rework your values because you’re repositioning your business send me a message or give me a call. It’s the kind of project for which DXDMedia is renowned.

Message me: info@dxdmedia.co.uk

And now to the quote of the month. I attend a monthly Book Club, and it is not just an excuse to have a glass of wine on a school night, it's the opportunity to read a good book and share the knowledge gleaned. The book of the month for February 2022 is Flip It by Michael Heppell - International Sunday Times No.1 best-selling author. I'm almost finished reading it (thankfully it's a thinner book than last month) but this quote on page 16 is one that has stood out so far. By the end, I'm sure Michael will have had me flip this thought.

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