Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Commercial and Marketing Strategy: picking the low hanging fruit?

One year on and Harveywetdog assesses feedback on the operation of the BE Commercial and Marketing Committee and notes parallels with his own 2016 assessment of the challenges facing the sport in the future.

Will there be a chance for blue sky thinking?
Photo ©Harveywetdog

I read with interest Lucy Higginson's article in the British Eventing Life (Sept/Oct) magazine giving us a small insight into the operation of the BE Commercial and Marketing Committee. As I had unsuccessfully applied for a seat on the committee last year I was curious to hear how they are getting on and secondly who the successful candidates were.

The article doesn't tell us an awful lot but does give an insight into what the committee is thinking and the action it is taking "to make sure the sport is in a fit shape to thrive". Being in a fit state to survive is defined as containing the cost of competing and achieving a better return for event organisers. Attracting sponsorship is part of this equation but so is attracting more people through the gates at events.

The strategy appears to be currently focused on the eight three star events; the rationale behind this approach is not explained but I imagine the thinking is Badminton and Burghley can look after themselves and what is found to work for the three star events can be later rolled out for the two star events and so on.

Two things stuck out for me; one was the statement, attributed to BE Commerical and Marketing Director Guy Prest which recognised that for a lot of people running an event is a lifestyle decision and not a commercial decision - in other words they don't do it for the money. Of course this doesn't just apply to organisers, many of our "volunteers", which includes fences judges, stewards, some owners, some grooms, etc etc and without whom the sport is not sustainable, do what they do because it suits their lifestyle. What would happen if this was no longer the case has not yet been considered.

The second aspect that struck home with me was the greater reliance on social media and the targeted marketing that platforms can now deploy. I'm sure we've all received one of the Facebook ads the article describes, be it based on children, dogs, shopping or a specific horse and rider and we now understand how our response will have been tracked and monitored by the marketing gurus at BE.

Finally I'm all for assistance creating decent video content from events and I agree that when it comes to quality "there is content and there is content" as Rob Pope explains. There is certainly no excuse for some barely audible shaky mobile phone footage in this day and age. At Harveywetdog we are always mindful of the quality of our output to ensure that it reflects the horses, rider and event in the best possible light and if people want assistance creating decent video content then they can either watch and learn or ask!

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