Successful Online Marketing Strategies: Part 2 – Leveraging Your Brand’s Fan-base

What do we mean by a ‘Brand Fan-Base’?

In the previous article, Viral Planet looked at some futuristic methodologies for developing successful online marketing strategies with Viral Video and Online Video Advertising being at the very heart of these strategies; however in this article we aim too explore the term ‘Brand Fan-Base’, what is meant by this and how a Brand can truly leverage their fan base for the greater good of all.

The Brand Fan-Base is usually spoken with sport in mind and in this example, Viral Planet will be looking at Football, our country’s national sport as a means of exploring ‘Brand Fan-Base’ and what this means in terms of developing successful marketing campaigns and what lessons can be learnt from other successful brands and implemented into others.

Viral Planet will be using the risky example of Liverpool Football Club, I say risky because football is a very emotive sport and tends to divide opinions, hence the team are certain that we will receive a broad churn of opinions from one extreme to the other, however this brand, indeed this Football Club has a special place in the heart of the Viral Planet team, so we thought that it would be worth the risk.

In terms of the term Brand Fan-Base, the Viral Planet team define this as: “A broad range of people who follow a name, company, organisation or club that is of particular interest or importance to them”; hence is this example Liverpool Football Club works really well, however so does Apple…

What Brand Fan-Base Opportunities Can Be Explored?

The opportunities of leveraging your Brand’s Fan-Base are fairly obvious, it means selling them more surely… …well not exactly. In terms of Apple’s example, what they have done is to leverage their Brand and their previously quite small Fan-Base to move into the Music and Film Industry and then expand their Fan-Base exponentially by creating highly innovative and mass-market products such as the iPod and lately the iPhone and the iPad. From a relatively small fan-base that was largely US based, Apple has in about a decade become a global leader in consumer personal computers, smart phone and music players; moreover Apple have also create the eco-system (e.g. iTunes) to ensure seamless access to consumer movie and music content, but even more than that they have also enabled self-taught developers to create useful iPhone and iPod applications (Apps), which are then distributed to via Apple’s App Store.

We know what you are saying… …”so what does this have to do with Football and more importantly, what does it have to do with Liverpool Football Club?” Well in essence Liverpool Football Club (“LFC”) has a large Fan-Base, how big no one really knows, however what is clear that in October 2011, the Managing Director wrote to the LFC faithful, over 25,000 of them asking for £5 each to “…remain on the LFC Season Ticket Waiting List and update your details via the Club’s online system.” This, one would presume would be leveraging the fan base, because 25,000 x £5 is £125,000, a lot of money to some people, but is it really? Would it pay for a top-strikers weekly wage?

How do you Leverage a Brand’s Fan Base?

Following on from the above example of Liverpool Football Club having over 25,000 people on the LFC Season Ticket waiting list, perhaps Liverpool Football Club could may be a little bit more adventurous, dare I say it may be far more entrepreneurial.

Please forgive the team, these are very simple maths to illustrate the concept, for example say if LFC asked all say 30,000+ people waiting for a season ticket, not for £5, but say £1,000 for every season ticket… …we know what you are going to say, but please bear with us… on the basis that say one in every three people take up this offer this up this would be 10,000 people and say on average each person is allowed two tickets each, then that suddenly becomes 20,000 people and on the basis that we asked a reputable bank, say the Co Op for example to open a Trust Bank account on behalf of these Season Ticket Waiting People, then that now becomes £20million. By way of example, we will summarise this as follows:

• 30,000 season ticket people on the present waiting list;

• 1 in 3 people would probably take up this offer;

• 10,000 people would potentially request on average 2 season tickets each; therefore

• 10,000 x 2 x £1,000 = £20million in the ‘LFC New Stadium Trust Bank Account’

And on the basis of that £20million deposited into the said trust bank account, then Liverpool Football Club could assess the consumer demand for additional seating, hence 20,000 additional seats plus an additional 5,000 seats for non-season ticket holders, would require 25,000 additional seats; hence this very roughly this would mean that Liverpool Football Club would require a stadium of seating for somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 capacity.

Given that LFC would now know that there is (i) serious demand for additional season tickets for a brand new LFC Stadium, probably located at Stanley Park and (ii) that the fans have spoken and have collectively deposited £20million into a Trust Bank Account demonstrates that probably just possibly that Liverpool Football Club could build a brand new Football Stadium to rival the likes of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and possibly evenly Wembley and as this would be a modern stadium based in the North of England, it would be fitting that the stadium should probably be called ‘The Stadium of the North’.

I know that many would read this and say, wow that is ambitious, and it probably will not work and people would never give up the money… …hmmm I am not so sure, many people have been on that waiting list for over a decade and given a once in a lifetime chance to jump ahead then I am sure they will ‘seize the day’ as individually fans may not be able to wield much power, but collectively the Fan-Base can be mobilised in order to generate amazing results… just so you all know, the Viral Planet team have already written to John Henry personally and the LFC Board and we have advised them of our very basic, albeit very powerful plan to regenerate the City of Liverpool and build ‘The Stadium of the North’; we also reminded them that they already have the most powerful strategic resource a company board could possible ever hope for and that is the loyal and ever expanding Liverpool Football Club Fan-Base…!!!

How can you create a Brand-Fan ‘Win-Win’ Situation

In terms of leveraging a Fan-Base it is vital that the Brand creates a ‘win-win’ situation, whereby the brand wins by selling more products to an increasingly much larger consumer audience, but also that the Fan be them prospective or loyal enjoy value in terms of improve customer service, better access to an expanding product range and generally being regarded as being the heart of any Brand, be them a Global Corporation such as Apple or a Football Club steeped in success and history such as Liverpool Football Club; this is generally regarded as a win-win situation.

What Other Factors Determine a Successful Brand Fan-Base

Customer Service and after sales care and the Brand caring about their consumers is 100% vital in building a strong and loyal Fan-Base, a little success whether it is selling 100million iPods or winning five European Cups always helps as well…

…in the next article we will explore why great customer service is sometimes even more important than the product itself.