• Alan Thorpe

Why some of your non-relatives are asking us to stop fans & members from ‘swiping left’

Tier 2, Row A, Seat 28. That’s my seat. Shift it!

Before we go on, can I assume that that you want a virtuous circle of investment/performance/engagement/income for your club or sport? That we can agree clubs and sports with the most income tend to do best? Perfect. Then here goes:

Sport is passion. Sport is fitness. Sport is friendship. Sport is purpose. Sport is at the ground. Sport is at home. Sport is on the mobile. Sport is in the park. Sport is learning. Sport is the news. Sport is taking part. Sport is being my best. Sport is on the other side of the world.

Sport’s a bit like dating. What each of us want is different, complicated. You may ‘swipe left’ where I’ll swipe right (this is only theoretically since my partner is perfect).

Take fans. We’ve have (not in order of importance)):

• Dedicated season ticket holders.

• Occasional attendees

• Avid, yet remote, members

• Corporate entertainment

• The visiting away fan

• The partner of the avid fan

• Age, gender

• Country


So why does this matter so much in 2022? In short, you and I have changed our expectations of brands. Digital native brands (such as Netflix, Spotify, Google, Facebook, fast fashion) have raised our expectations. We transfer these expectations onto other organisations with which we engage. McKinsey’s ‘Next in Personalization 2021 Report’ found:

It’s even more complex for National Governing Bodies, those dedicated administrators of our sporting passions. Our sporting ‘swipe rights’ arrive in very different ways.

  • There’s the form of ‘the game’ that interests each of us. Cycling (example) isn’t just ‘two wheels'. It’s a mash up of road, mountain, BMX, track, recreational, racing, touring, transport etc. I love my road bike yet find mountain biking akin to taking out the bins.

  • Even within each active sub-group they’ll be the ‘type 2 fun’ hardcore that’s very different to ‘type 1’ participants.

  • Are they coaches or administrators?

  • What level of the sport? Elite, Competitive, Grass Roots, Casual?

  • Age group & gender.

  • Junior or senior? Parent(s)?

  • New to the sport or expert?

  • Location and access to facilities.

Executing a national sporting strategy without personalisation is like serving up the same dish to vegetarians, carnivores, vegans, all faiths, and expecting them to equally enjoy it!

Because we transfer our expectations ('x brand did this so why don't you?') it's possible to see the opportunity that personalisation offers to sport by looking at other sectors. The diagram above comes from Deloitte's 2020 'Future of Retail Banking - the hyper personalisation imperative'. Want income and membership growth? Then get personal.

Most clubs and sports already have the data required to grow revenues via personalisation. The challenge is that their data is mostly like my daughter's bedroom. Messy. It's stored on different platforms, in Excel, with different data definitions and access points. It's incomplete.

So where do you start to stop 'swipes left' for your club or sport?

Sporting leaders who bring their data sets together into one, owned, asset can rapidly respond to these massive changes in our expectations. This step sits central to building an operating system that can align with, and deliver, your sporting vision. McKinsey agree saying ‘A comprehensive approach to data-driven growth and personlisation’ sits at the heart of outperformers.

Still not convinced? Then run down this list and ask how many of these things matter to you.

Our team at Sports Data Services brings together 150+ years of shared data expertise to sport. We’ve nailed data management for financial services, retail, broadcasting and eCommerce. Why does this matter? These sectors sit comfortably ahead of sport in their usage of data. If you want to stay ahead of talent, fan, recreational participant and member expectations then we can make this happen for you. As we've already done for leading NGBs and Premier League clubs.

Shall we grab an hour and get heavily caffeinated together? Great! Here's my email address: Alan.Thorpe@sportsdata.services.

Yet more persuasion? HERE are eight more reasons your CEO or FD should be desperate for dazzling data.


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