Emotional transaction at el juego bonito (beautiful game) turnstiles

ImagePicture taken from Jon Rogers Tumblr

Let’s get one thing straight, as a fan the only return on investment we are entitled to from supporting a football club, is an emotional one. Football owes us nothing more than the reciprocation of emotion. We as fans put our money where the heart lies, support that’s inherited through family or support that’s earned from advocation for a new team. A connection we pay for with no promise of a positive outcome. The only thing the beautiful game owes us is the recognition that we exist. And football like other events requires fan participation to make the occasion real.

The recent England V’s Italy world cup game saw 219,637 tweets registered after Daniel Sturridge’s 37th minute equaliser (Porter T, IBT, 2014 online) with an estimated 7.2 million tweets registered globally on Twitter during the game (Watt A, Cambridge News, 2014) #England and #Gerrard hastags being favoured to identify association with the game (Digimind) The emotion’s real and through digital and social platforms the connections real (time) as well.

June 18th saw the football fixtures for England’s domestic leagues being released, my beloved Manchester City have a tough start Several premier league clubs have seen the value a digital strategy can bring as a way to not only engage with the fans and give them an extended experience with the game, through own, affiliated, and fan generated content but build a longer term relationship for the brand with fan and his or her family and friends.

Some great insight can be found on how the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Roma, and Derby County have all been incorporating digital technology into their fan engagement strategies here:

Q&A: Manchester City’s approach to digital marketing
Real Madrid’s head of mobile talks about the club’s mobile strategy
How football clubs engage fans on Instagram
Portsmouth FC digital strategy
Has the beautiful game dropped the ball?

The new season also brings much optimism for some of the clubs lower down the league(s) wanting to make their mark on and off the pitch. It will be very interesting to see how many of them will turn to digital as a way of providing the fans a greater emotive connection with their club by way of the game of football. All too often what happens on the pitch dictates business matters off it. The key will be in how to manage that customer experience gap.

(come on England)

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Prospective client website user needs – a doodle

ImageThe digital communications management post graduate course I am currently undertaking through Manchester Metropolitan University has been the best thing I have done for many years. Not only is it developing my knowledge of digital and social media it has had a very positive effect on my mindset when it comes to challenging original thought and ideas. The above is a quick brainstorm regarding what prospective client user needs of an agency website might look like which has impact on design, UX, content, search optimisation and social media

High Street 2.0

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The picture above is of my friend’s shop ‘The White Label Clothing Company’ @WLCManchester a great independent in the Northern Quarter and opposite the iconic Affleck’s Palace. Both a landmark and a bastion for originality and ‘doin it ya self’

Sadly the shop is no more. It closed 12 months ago. To me at least there was nothing quite like it in Manchester. Quirky prints on tees, hoodies, jumpers and canvases. My silk screened Kylie Tee, light blue on white, will always be a guilty pleasure worn under a black suite with crisp white nikes. But then, that’s me and times change.

Around that time other more recognised stores started to have problems and we lost the retailer Game. Since then we’ve had well documented issues from the likes of Jessops and of course HMV.

Has the retail environment changed so drastically over the past 5 years that we are
now seeing the demise of the high street? I think the issue lies in the fact that a physical entity occupies a space that is fast becoming an online experience. It’s estimated that by 2014 they’ll be 1 Billion global smartphone users. We’re fast becoming a mobile economy be it i phone, android or tablet.

Shopping in Britain is a cultural pastime. It’s synonymous with an interactive physical experience. Leaving the house, taking transport to a city or town where you participate in walking a high street or shopping centre with friends, browsing the brands you aspire to and then maybe after a spot of lunch make that all important purchase to be worn at a forthcoming social occasion. It’s human behavior that will never change; we as consumers have in built needs to be admired, wooed and wanted. We like the attention from the assistant (but not too much) and we demand the service that goes along with the buying experience. When we have that item in the bag and leave the shop its like a massive endorphin rush until its time to buy something else.

Digital has come along and interrupted that.

So where are we now 12 months on? How far has that digital interruption stretched and are we still shopping in disrupted times?

You’d have to say yes. I believe the premise of ‘disruption’ is that of change. A paradigm shift to an existing tradition or mindset of which shopping is a way of life. Make no mistake the internet has been the single biggest disruption to our everyday lifes in the last, what, 20 years?

That ‘shift’ has seen more consumers consuming via digital channels. Mobile is fast becoming our choice of destination; more of us prefer online stores to our bricks and mortar counterparts. Customers state they feel more valued (great UX) and with removal of obstacles to purchase (better designed online environments) time spent online is both effective and efficient. You get what you need when you need it.

It’s been well documented that The Portas Review http://bit.ly/16fvTox failed to join the ofline and online dots. Whether that’s through bad advice, ill communication or just a lack of vision? Even Google’s ZMOT http://www.zeromomentoftruth.com/ highlighted a growing behavioural change which some major retailers are still struggling to adapt.

Check out @john_k31 thoughts on ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ http://bit.ly/17h8HcR

And while you’re at it have a glimpse at the recent speech Ebay’s Rob Bassett gave for the Drum’s @thedrum ‘Digital Convergence’ event http://bit.ly/14Ahxm9

With all this advance of technology where does your traditional high street shop fit in with a new consumer shopping psyche?

I have only opinions. I’m sadly no retail savvy analyst that can predict what lies in wait for the second coming of the high street and whether that will be the positive experience we all want for our much loved brands. What I do know is you cannot escape the changing identity of it, be it closed shops, cheap shops or ones that pop up. We’ve got preachers, singers and freestylers all vying for your attention set against a back drop of 2-4-1 and 25% off. It’s very very noisy, very very crowded and very anarchic. Its like shopping in a riot. Not that I’ve done that before and nor would I want to.

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On a recent visit to London I made a point of visiting BoxPark in Islington to see one of Manchester’s adopted sons @alanwardle open the very first @anyforty retail offering. What’s interesting about these spaces is the fact they’ve taken the best of the bits of the high street and condensed them into mini bite sized touch points with out the screaming kids, prams and push chairs. We’ve gone back to basics and done what we do best. Giving the customer what they want. Uncluttered distilled sales messages that don’t shout and focus on key elements of place, product and price . Intimate brand touch points that have very personalised stories to tell and memorable relationships to build with their customers.

Financially they are very attractive to their brand owners because of the low risk short term lease options. It’s also a damn good idea as ideas go. A shop in a box perhaps doesn’t seem the most ground breaking but when you put them all together, one next to each other you’ve got a wonderful collection of brands that will always cater for any type of shopper. Those that prefer one brand will automatically come in to contact with one they haven’t necessarily heard of but are keen to explore. What’s also great is that technology is enabling them to keep the cost down. Many of the owners are utilising the applications that allow mobile card payments through mobile and tablet devices. Cash is still very much accepted of course.

It brings life back to parts of towns and cities that had been looking down and disheveled. A community of brands and shop owners that are thinking around the problem and creating a solution that is very much an identity all it’s own making. And you know how much I like identity.

Looking around, most of the brands on offer already had an online presence but from what I can see these sorts of experiments give them a very personal connection to their audiences. Having stepped into the box they control what they can and can’t see and if that’s limited they can connect straight away with the brand owner, i.e. Alan.
There’s a great charm to them and they ooze brand personality and in today’s crowded marketplace, brands that use this to communicate their values well shout louder over the noise.

I’m not saying they are the future because technology is changing how we shop but I’d hate to see our High Street disappear and I think there’s a lot to be gained from a pop up methodology. Adopt, adapt and accentuate the positive. Perhaps even Mary might visit.

Why I love Twitfaced (and why it must continue)

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A prize money can’t buy

As first blog posts go this might be a sombre one to start proceedings but because it’s a new year, a new start and in light of recent news; reading a very poignant but beautiful post from Michael Di Paola courtesy of the Studio North blog on Simon Calderbank’s departure ‘Emotional deposit at the Bank of Calders‘ it, for me at least, needed to be written. I also couldn’t think of better post to start my blog.

I love Twitfaced I can’t help it, I do. Knowing it’s coming on the Friday is something to look forward to all week. I’m happiest when I’m there as I feel I’ve come home. Although I must say the official @twitfacedevents and #twitfaced tweets do help. I’ve even got a lovely trophy to prove I’m a fan, awarded to me at Twitfaced 5 in recognition of my long serving devotion to the cause.

I remember the first one they staged back in the day at Panacea, a step into the unknown based around an excuse for a load of people from the creative world to get together and a have a drink. All organised via Twitter. There we are 90 of us stood early doors at Panacea. My abiding memory of that night was the huge slap reality gave me when a well to do 50 year old walked in with a gaggle of young ladies (think I counted 5 on each arm) and took residence in the adjacent booth where they slowly got to the know each other and the 3 bottles of champagne a little better.

Over the previous 4 incarnations we’ve had visits to Revolution, The Slug and Lettuce, that bar in Castlefield that Mick used to own and the recent personal favourite Lock 91.

Mark Cadwaladar you will never be forgotten.

The ever present Wheel of Booze and Tweet Wall have been with us every step of the way and I’ve even challenged another Hall of Famer to a game of Twister before tweeting my attraction to a lady in a fluffy yellow jumper via the wall. “Jumpergate” is now etched into Twitfaced folk law.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting a trophy, I’m very flattered if a little embarrassed. If truth to be told I’d be there if there was no trophy, there was no prize and there was no award. The reason I go is because of the actual event, for the people and the people you get to meet. And I like to think those that go and come back do so because of Simon and Michael.

That little trophy means more than a memory to me. I look at it and see two people that created something they both truly believed in and weren’t afraid to get out there and do it. It’s original because it doesn’t need to try too hard and that’s the beauty of it. Simplistic fun with a dose of good natured northern humour. Who can forget Jimmy Saville’s guest appearance at Twitfaced 4 an amazing performance considering the context.

In an industry that can be a tad ‘up itself’ at times, here’s 2 people, an agency and event that isn’t afraid to say who we are, warts and all. Having seen all 4 in action I’m pleased to say it’s an attribute that goes to the heart of their respective brands.

I’d like to think those meetings at Studio North which focused on new business concentrated on the right type of clients and not how many. They spoke about fit and values and going about that prospective client courtship in a way that encouraged interest, showcased relevance and a want to know more as opposed to phoning numbers and ticking them off a list.

From my experience it takes a lot to stand apart and be as honest, upfront and transparent as that but as Michael mentioned in his post in these social times it’s needed. Your real audience will always know when you’re being real to yourselves and true to them. 350 at the last count.

This is what that little trophy stands for to me at least and I’m happy to accept it from 2 people that embody it. I’m also happy to say I know Simon Calderbank and Michael Di Paola a little and many ways I’ve got to know them a little better through their own event. I’d imagine Twitfaced 6 is in the planning stages and I expect it will try to raise the bar it’s set itself. I also hope Simon and Michael will be present together, banging the drum and leading us a merry dance through the evenings proceedings.