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Marketing a Campaign

Running A Campaign

Here are 5 tips for marketing a bid and making your dream of community ownership a reality.

  • Bring people together. 

The Foundation of Hearts brought together the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, Heart of Midlothian Shareholders Association, Hearts Youth Development Committee, Save our Hearts and the Heart of Midlothian Supporters Trust. There were different aims and roles of the groups within this, but they were 100% agreed on achieving common goals i.e. to save the club and to achieve a say in its future. Ian Murray MP was appointed as an independent Chair of the group in recognition of a need for a prominent figurehead at the helm.

  • Identify Experts

With any one clubs’ supporter base, there will be a wealth of expertise, knowledge and experience for tasks that the supporter group will require. Foundation of Hearts effectively identified a number of experts within certain fields and recruited their assistance for the good of the bid.

  • Get On The Road

When Rangers First were promoting their plans for the CIC, they hit the road, hard. They visited venues throughout Scotland spreading the word of what they were doing and signing people up on the night. They even went as far as to Australia (and didn’t pay a penny because of the goodness of volunteers). In an age of digital technology, there will always be a place for meeting people and telling them about what you do.

  • Set Realistic Financial Goals

It was important for the Foundation of Hearts to set realistic and achievable goals. Fans were encouraged to pay what they could afford and no more. If you’re considering a bid, you may wish to consider running a survey to find out appetite among the supporter base and how much they would be willing to contribute.

  • Make Contributing Easy

You want your members to be able to contribute as easily as possible. You should cater for a number of needs, even if you get the majority of contributions from one or two means. Much like your membership, contributing should be open and accessible. An easy way to manage Direct Debits is to use ‘GoCardless‘.

  • Be Media Savy

Love them or hate them, the media are critical to the success of a bid. Use them well. Be on the front foot and one step ahead thinking of potential pitfalls, looking for positive angles and being proactive. Never wait for the phone to ring

Marketing a Supporters Trust

The development of a formal marketing plan for a Supporters’ Trust is essential. Supporters’ Trusts must be prepared to face a continually changing football environment, and to prepare quickly for the unexpected – negative and positive.

Your club might enter into administration, or the Chairman might decide to move ground, or build a new stadium. This marketing plan has been designed to provide Supporters’ Trusts with a guide to planning formats.

The situation analysis – where we are now

Trusts should summarise all the information available to them that has a bearing on the services they can offer. This includes information such as market trends, and any constraints or economic factors which may affect the establishment of the Trust.

Objectives – where we want to go

The aims and objectives of the Supporters’ Trust should be clear and concise. A list of objectives used by some Supporters’ Trusts can be found in Appendix 9. The objectives must be specific and realistic.

The marketing mix – how we plan to get there

1. Place – The place is the geographical area the Supporters’ Trust aims to recruit members from, which should be specified from the start and can be expanded at a later stage. This can also include potential membership from overseas.

2. Product – The different ‘products’ that a Trust can and cannot provide its members and their benefits should be defined. The key ‘product’ of a Trust is that it is a democratic vehicle for collective influence on the football club. The product potential members are being asked to buy into is increased communication between the supporters and officials of their football club, and collective ownership of a stake in the club. Being clear about these key products should help recruit more members.

3. Physical evidence – Marketing research to identify the needs of members is essential. A supporters’ survey to hand out on match days is a good way of gathering data. Please ask your Development Officer at Supporters Direct for examples of supporters’ surveys used by other Supporters’ Trusts.

4. Price – It is important to price membership fees correctly. As stated in the Introduction, we recommend that membership should not normally cost more than a match-day ticket, apart from corporate membership, which can differ depending on the type of businesses in the area. Your Development Officer at Supporters Direct can advise Trusts on sliding scales for corporate membership depending on the size of the organisation, as can other Trusts.

Membership should be categorised to include all members of the community. Membership forms should be designed to include the ability for a member to pay by direct debit and to give a donation.

For example:

Category Explanation Price
Individual Membership Average membership – non concessionary £10
Family Membership Where two members or more of a family wish to join the Trust £20
Concessionary Junior/Students/OAP fees £5
Supporters’ club member (where there is a separate supporters’ club) Discounted fee for members of supporters’ clubs. The difference in individual membership and that offered to the supporters’ club member can be given to the supporters’ club member, or the £2 discount could go straight to the supporters’ club £8
Corporate Businesses can be offered membership at a one off yearly fee and in return for the Supporters’ Trust advertising their logo on the Trust’s promotional literature £100 (or a sliding scale, please ask a Development Officer at Supporters Direct for advice)
Life Membership Between £100 and £500


5. Process – Supporters’ Trusts can promote their products in a variety of ways including:

  • Newsletters and other publications, including leaflets distributed to members and supporters on match-days and ‘roadshows’.
  • Supporters’ Trust website
  • Football club website and message boards
  • Football club match-day programme (if possible)
  • Fanzines and other supporters’ literature
  • Football Ground display boards (if possible)
  • Match day point of contact (perhaps a stall or office at the ground, or a regular spot in a local pub or shopping centre)
  • Advertising through local businesses/schools and local youth organisations
  • Advertising in the local newspaper
  • Making a video to be shown on match-days or at Trust events
  • Arranging fans forums, or ex-player evenings
  • Arranging community events such as fun runs, and jumble sales
  • Working with the club’s Football in the Community Officer.
  • Regular e-mails to members
  • Regular membership meetings

6. People – A Supporters’ Trust should try and target the following people for membership, support or funding:

  • Regular match goers
  • Occasional match goers (including those who live overseas)
  • Members of supporters’ clubs (with the permission of the supporters’ club)
  • Local youth team leaders
  • Councillors
  • MPs
  • Local businessmen
  • Employees and officers of the football club and schemes associated with the club, such as the Football in the Community scheme
  • Players
  • Ex-players
  • Famous people associated with the club
  • Headteachers and/or school children
  • Local and national media

Performance audit – evaluating the Trust’s marketing strategy

Targets should be set and an audit should be established for monitoring the Trust’s performance in reaching its objectives. Performance can be audited in terms of membership and financial performance. Monitoring of the Trust’s performance towards achievement of key marketing objectives is important. This will identify any problems or highlight avenues worth pursuing.

Supporters Direct can advise Trusts on sliding scales for corporate membership depending on the size of the organisation, as can other Trusts.

Membership should be categorised to include all members of the community. Membership forms should be designed to include the ability for a member to pay by direct debit and to give a donation.