Has anyone ever realized that the soccer’s biggest untapped resource is that of its fans? This is not a new niche market, it is an extensive network of fans, players, officials and administrators that equate to approximately 25 million people.
If we are looking at long term growth, MLS teams must forge stronger links with these key demographics and establish a genuine connection with the grassroots. We are not talking a token Twitter message, we are talking about unparalleled access for fans with their clubs and sporting heroes.
This is not just a marketing challenge –we are not selling a standardized product off the shelf – it’s much more complex than that. Creating emotional links will fans will enable soccer to entrench its presence within the community and establish formal linkages and developmental pathways with junior, intermediate and top tier competitions.
Interacting with the youth of today should also become soccer’s number one growth strategy. Creating ‘fans for life’ out of the ones that will drive the next generation of players, volunteers and fans is the single most important move in the sports quest to create a cultural shift in U.S. sporting culture.
We need to shift the focus from the top tier of the game to assist the top tier of the game. It’s slowly happening through the creation of original content for fans to engage with – we only have to see the stats to know that this works. In July alone, the MLSsoccer.com staff posted close to 700 original stories, a 33 percent increase from July 2010. And in response to the content, the website recorded just over 3 million unique visitors. The flagship website, MLSsoccer.com, also increased its video production by 33% in July, and reached 1 million videos viewed, which doubled numbers from 2010 (source: Forbes.com)
This renewed focus will help improve the game through new and mutually beneficial connections with the grassroots of the game, and demonstrate the accountability of the MLS to its fundamental stakeholder – soccer participants.
Together we can #growthegame and with Soccer Support launching in 2012 we hope to be at the forefront of this movement as a genuine voice for the fans.
In the meantime if you’re interested to find out what we are about please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.