It does not seem too long ago that a supporters source of information about the club was confined to calling each other by phone, meetings down the pub, or (especially in the case of clubs outside of the top tier) hoping to catch some news in the back pages of either the local or national newspapers.
The advent of the internet changed much of this, and ‘vetted’ information was all of a sudden available to individual supporters via a club’s official website. Then came ‘unofficial websites’, message boards, and lately in yet another twist, the spectacular growth of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Clubs, have in the past, and I am sure will have to again in the future, constantly had to adapt to changing circumstances outside of their direct control. The recent departure of our manager at Bury FC, Richie Barker, has forced us as a club to review and change the way that we report stories in the future. Our policy of only commenting on the official website with ‘done deals’ has now changed in that in certain, exceptional circumstances, we will (if all parties involved agree), try to keep supporters updated on key developments, even if the ink’s not dry on a contract. News of Richie’s departure had spread like ‘wildfire’, long before the signature on his new Crawley contract had officially been signed, leaving us (officially) looking like we had lost control of the situation. We had not of course, the board knew what was going on, but so did everyone else, and the only medium not running a story on it was our very own website, which we obviously need to keep as the principle source of club information to maintain a supporter’s interest in it.
As the internet has taken over from traditional print media (in many forms, not just in football) as the primary source of club information, a definite casualty of the new online media streams now available to supporters has been the decline of the traditional match day programme. Despite our matchday programme at Bury FC having more and more pages (and in my opinion looking better and better each season), and our attendances actually going up, we have seen a steady decline of actual sales, so when the club was approached by a company offering us a ‘no risk’ chance to actually once again grow our programme sales I was immediately interested, and along with Gordon Sorfleet (our press/media manager), met with Rod Joseph from a company called ‘Matchday Digital’ just a few short months ago.
‘Matchday Digital’ (www.matchdaydigital.co.uk) demonstrated to us, via the Apple store, an iPad application (‘app’ to those, who like me, are not that computer ‘savvy’), whereby fans could access a vast array of digital club programmes online, Apple takes care of all the payments, and then supporters can view high quality digital versions via their iPad, even turning pages like a normal ‘in print’ publication. All we had to do as a club was send the ‘pdf’ to ‘Matchday Digital’ as we sent it to the printers, no extra work for us whatsoever.
Both myself and Gordon could immediately see the advantages on offer. The ability to sell programmes from previous years, away fans that cannot attend games being able to buy them, home fans that cannot make a game still being able to purchase the programme, the advantages were limitless. Once we were ‘sold’ on the idea behind the app, our next question was “how much”? Yet again we were shocked when the reply came back, “nothing, no upfront costs, no fixed fees. If Bury Football Club sells just one programme, then plain and simple you have earned money straight away”.
I was hooked and immediately offered to invest in the new product, and not just financially, my biggest input was to be getting the message out to the key decision makers at clubs. “How are you going to do that?” I was asked. My advice was simple, “We need to take out an advert in fcbusiness Magazine(!), and club by club keep hammering away until the decision maker at that club has actually looked, seen and felt the product.” To further enhance our offering we are now also looking at taking out sponsorship deals to help support the clubs gain this extra revenue, I know it sounds crazy, but this is how confident we are in the product achieving long-term growth at clubs.
Sometimes I have to re-cap the offering just to remind myself how good this offer is to clubs;
2) Ongoing revenue growth, far higher profit margin than ‘in print’
3) Future proofing of your club’s match day programme
4) No development costs
5) No set-up costs
6) No ongoing costs
7) CANNOT be shared amongst fans
8) No risk whatsoever, sell just one copy and the club is in profit
9) Clubs already committed range from Conference North and South to Premiership
Sounds interesting and want a no obligation visit from us to explain to you just how fantastic this product can be for YOUR club?
Please contact us via one of the mediums below and we will be more than happy to come along and show you how ‘Matchday Digital’ can rapidly grow your programme sales.
Visiting ; http://www.matchdaydigital.co.uk
Downloading the ‘pdf’; http://www.matchdaydigital.co.uk/matchday.pdf
Telephoning; 0207 899 1111
Emailing Rod Joseph or Kim Lomas;
Mark Catlin is Commercial/PR/Media Director at Bury Football Club and can be contacted personally at; mark.catlin@BuryFC.co.uk