IPL teams have recognized the importance of fan loyalty but are clueless on how to go about building a loyal fan base. They started off assuming that this would happen automatically because they had captive markets and strong regional affiliations. Once they saw that this was not happening they started taking a very ‘top down’ approach to solving this problem. Design some marketing programs at the very top and pray that the benefits reach the fans. This has also come to naught.
The only way to building fan loyalty is by taking a ‘bottom up’ or fan centric approach – building a loyal base one fan at a time. Teams need to invest in understanding its fans, offer the fans what they want and only then will fans reward them with their loyalty. You can’t rush this process. Just because you have 10 beautiful women around you, you cannot deliver a baby in 1 month, now can you J
Building fan loyalty is a complex science. While monetization of fans is the Holy Grail, teams should not jump into monetization right away. This is a common mistake that franchisees make. You need to acquire fans, retain fans and engage fans for a period of time before you can even dream of any serious monetization. Each of these steps has very different objectives and therefore has to deploy very different tactics. Each of these steps is driven by a combination of many online and offline marketing and branding efforts. Our experiences from other consumer aligned industries like retail and CPG and banking has greatly enhanced our ability to measure fan loyalty and track its growth.
Taking a holistic and long-term view to fan engagement is the only sustainable way to ensure that fans become a bankable balance sheet asset for sports teams.