Marketing refers to the process of management through which goods and services move from being a concept on to the consumer, a process which broadly consists of the identification, selection and development of a product, pricing, distribution and its promotion (Gladden 2005). Sport marketing therefore involves the application of these processes in the development of sport products to enhance their consumption on the one hand, and the use of the attraction of sport of an audience to market other varied goods and services (Matthew 2005). Sport marketing is therefore broadly defined as the anticipation of consumer wants and needs, and its management and satisfaction through the application of principles and practices of marketing. This is inclusive of the marketing through sport facet which entails the use of sport as a promotional vehicle, a sponsorship platform for companies marketing consumer or industrial products (Blann 2003).
This report is formulated to serve as a marketing audit of the Cambridge Elite Soccer School in which I have recently worked in as an Administration Assistant, doubling up as a Brand assistant for its Brand management team. It seeks to create some understanding of ways in which the School applies marketing concepts in its area of performance and specialty (and generally in the sports sector), its strategies in this endeavor and possible avenues for improvement. The structure of the report entails an introduction to the Cambridge Elite Soccer School and description of its history and achievements in its line of business, its objectives and mission.
Further, the report delves into a description of the competitive environment in this sports sector and the factors affecting the organization’s business success broadly categorized under political, economic, social and technological spheres. It also delves into a description of its customers and products covering individual details of members and various other participants, an overview of their involvement. Finally, the report gives recommendations deemed appropriate to the School, developed from the marketing audit.
Cambridge Elite Soccer School
Located in the Neale-Wade Community College, Wimblington Road, March, Cambridgeshire Elite Soccer School is a growing organization that offers top quality coaching to enthusiastic football players in the under 14/15 (U14/U15) category throughout Cambridgeshire. The School has been developed to give these young, high standard and able players an opportunity to enhance their skills further. This is enabled by its highly qualified coaches with extensive experience in the football sector.
The School started out in 2009 with its main aim being to educate this category of players in all aspects of training towards professionalism, providing the right environment so as to maximize their chances of success. It seeks to offer useful advice, good facilities, and appropriate football knowledge along with lots of valuable experience imparted by its resident coaches having many years’ experience in the football sector. These coaches are certified, all qualified to a minimum of FA level 2 and include three coaches and one goalkeeper coach and one among them has a Degree in Sports Science and Coaching.
The primary aim of the school is to educate its players in all requisite aspects towards professionalism so as to maximize their chances of future success. Selection for training is done over a four week trial period and those that succeed are then taken through continuous training at the school in a professional development scheme by the excellent and FA qualified coaches. The school is deliberately designed to improve both physical and mental performance, creating the right environment to back such an endeavor.
For the players’ success, a favorable environment has been sought and the schools facilities, mostly provided by the Neale Wade Community College include an ‘astro’ training pitch, two classrooms, boarding facilities that enable weekend stays during intensive training, entertainment and dining areas enjoined to a modern kitchen. For major events that the school seeks to engage more in, to enhance its presence and create better awareness, the management has sought the use of the local stadium so as to enable attendance of large crowds. The school also has a van that enables the transportation of students to various locations for training or for events.
The school’s marketing orientation consists of a focus on the application of marketing principles including the anticipation, management and satisfaction of consumer’s wants and needs. The school identifies its consumers to include the young football players and their immediate families as its dominant target market and the consumer base is expanded to include their families and the local community in general. Also included in the consumer base though secondary are the spectators in the various events, and finally the major teams that consume the school’s product, the trained professional players.
To identify and manage the needs and wants of the various stakeholders requires a well-defined strategic approach is required and especially since the school’s main product entails the offer of services in training and development of young players for the club market. In summary, the marketing program that the school engages in involves the creation of a marketing mix that is focused on the dominant target market (the young boys and their immediate families making the decision to enroll in the school so as to foster professional development, as well as the local loyal fan base that can influence such decisions).
Its marketing strategy includes the use of traditional broadcast media of TV and radio carrying paid advertisements, extensive signage locally, and print media (newspapers, magazines and brochures). These tools are used to communicate to consumers and thus create an enhanced awareness of the school’s events. The school is also seeking to enhance its online presence to serve as a marketing platform so as to enhance its reach limited by the reach of the various media already employed. The internet has grown faster in recent years than the other forms of electronic technology. It offers a new economic opportunity for business through commerce and trade based on the web (Howard 2000). It provides access to a desirable target market and is not limited by distance as the other promotional campaigns can be and therefore presence online can be justified as an effective tool to reach potential markets. It gives fans and other interested parties an opportunity to access information on the school and its events via the internet (Griffin 1996).
Cambridge Elite Soccer School’s objectives and mission
Objective·To train the young, high quality players to professionalism and to enable them to realize their football dreams.
·The primary aim of the school is to educate its players in all requisite aspects towards professionalism so as to maximize their chances of future success.
Mission·To be a high class development and training school for the soccer sector with an output of all – rounded high capacity junior players.
The External and Competitive Environment
A marketing audit consists of a review of a company’s marketing planning, organizational and control processes and their results, looking at the framework for action as well as its performance and potential (Gladden 2005). This report is a horizontal audit of CESS examining the school’s mission, its markets, sustainable competitive advantage, marketing plans, coordination of marketing mix, among other critical factors.
It is necessary for an organization to consider its environment continuously as it follows through in its strategic path, and this should feed all aspects of planning (Brian 2000). The School’s marketing environment is made up of three levels; its internal environment which include its members of staff and management, technology and finance; its micro-environment which include the customers, agents and distributors, suppliers and competitors, etc.; and its macro-environment which includes the political (and legal) forces, economic forces, socio-cultural forces and technological forces (the PEST factors).
Several factors influence the strategies adopted by the school in its marketing and overall business approaches. Political factors include the influence of events in the political arena upon the regulation of businesses such as the school, and the spending power of the population that constitute consumers of the school’s products. With a stable political environment and favorable government policy that influences laws surrounding business, the school is well placed to benefit from its positive influence. The success of the soccer sector in the UK has been beneficial in bringing about the enhancement of goodwill and appreciation of government of all aspects related to football. The government’s policy on the economy including the taxation of clubs and sport schools are indicative of its desire to enable the successful realization of objectives in the sport sector and especially football.
Economic factors entail a consideration of the economy of the state regarding both the short term and the long term. These include factors such as interest rates, inflation levels and the long term prospects of the economy (pointers to continued performance) with focus on details such as the Gross Domestic product per capita. The challenging economic recession has been a major factor that has negatively affected the business of the Cambridge Elite Soccer School, with its effect upon the disposable incomes of the families in the region that forms the dominant target market for the school and consumer of its products.
Socio-cultural factors include factors such as attitudes, leisure times for consumers, life expectancy of the population, and wealth levels among other factors. The school benefits from positive influences of the socio-cultural factors such as the availability of leisure times for the players and their families over the weekend enables the success of such training endeavors. Overall wealth of the population is beneficial to the school’s business success and strategy as it enables availability of enhanced disposable incomes that can be utilized in such ventures as paying for the enrolment in the school. The general attitude of the population towards the game and all its affiliated programs and events is also positive and this enables the school to enjoy goodwill and support from the community in many of its events and activities if they are well planned and inclusive.
Technology is vital for competitive advantage and in these modern times of the internet, also serves as a major driver for the enhancement of business processes and efficiency. The internet offers a cheaper advertising platform and a direct communication channel with consumers which also allows for the reception of feedback real-time. Other processes such as ticketing, enrolment, bookings and sale of the school’s branded items which were hitherto a challenge to see through have been made easier with the employment of the internet avenues. The effective use of the internet by the school for all the above-mentioned processes has however been limited through a lack of consistency in the integration of these processes to benefit from the overall efficiency. The school mainly uses its online presence for communication with consumers and has recently sought to create content for advertising. There still untapped capacity on this platform and it is evidently an area that can enable greater improvement in the marketing potential of the school.
Competition for the school features both locally and further afield from similar training clubs and schools. Presently, the school’s management focuses on local competition within Cambridgeshire offered by several football clubs featuring programs for a similar age bracket, and soccer training schools. Among the major competitors are; Wisbech St. Mary Football Club, Stukeley Meadows Youth Football Club, Hampton Football Club, and Tony Russell Soccer School among many others. These clubs and organizations are both direct and indirect competitors in the school’s line of business and the school’s management has endeavored to create strategy to enable its differentiation from its competitors through its offer of unique services and competitive pricing. Its unique services include mid week training sessions and the creation of events that involve the participation of the youth and their families.
Opportunities are created for the trained youth to play in trials before pro and semi-pro club scouts and give support to them every step of the way, an offer of a comprehensive training program integrated with other activities while the other business competitors focus on playing league games in their claim to offer training. Its indirect competitors include the in-house training programs of the major league clubs’ pro academies though these have limited and difficult to obtain available spaces and are often the preserve of the intensely talented individuals. The challenge offered by these is therefore minimal as there is a major gap in coaching that can only be offered by academies at the grassroots level. This challenge is therefore not a major factor in CESS’ strategic planning and implementation.
Customers and products
The products offered at the school include professional soccer training of the under14/15 youth so as to enhance their chances of success in pro football and to enable them to increase their capacity to look for professional opportunities playing for the major league clubs. Also included in its product offerings are minor league games and weekend fixtures that have gained in following to become an appreciable income earner for the club. The club also benefits from sales of merchandise including branded apparel, equipment and souvenirs which are part of recent developments brought up during my time of placement.
The school’s customers include the young players enrolled in the training programs of the school, their families, spectators that attend the school’s events and fixtures, and the local population as well as people from further afield who purchase merchandise from the school. To gauge the participation of several of these groups of participants, several hundred participants and stakeholders including spectators, parents and members of the general population were selected and questionnaires were administered to them to gain useful information on the marketing success of the school, the general awareness of the school’s activities and the services that it provides, as well as their willingness and desire to participate and to attend the school’s events and fixtures.
The survey entailed a self-administered survey with questionnaires distributed through mail to several homes in the locality and email to homes further away. This was attained through stratified sampling to select subjects which divides a population into groups from which random samples are chosen. Instrument used for data collection was a survey questionnaire which sought to detail the identification details of those sampled including their locality, their involvement with the school and its activities, how and when they got to learn about the school, their willingness and desire to participate in future events organized by the school’s management. They were also asked to rate the school’s performance on several fronts including its capacity thus far to create awareness of its activities and capacity. The results (collated) are presented in the appendices section of this report.
In the results obtained, 70% of the respondents (a total of 410 respondents) confirmed having participated in the school’s events and activities ranging from being spectators at fixtures and league games, to in-house participatory games and even bringing young family members to enroll at the school. Of these, 45% confirmed having participated for two and a half years of the schools three and a half year existence, which characterizes the school’s success at its marketing endeavors early in its life and a capacity to retain its customer base and clientele over this time. 80% of the respondents were willing to participate in the school’s events going forward and the school generally received a high rating at an average of 6.2 points in a scale of 1 to 10. These results are telling of the school’s high capacity at managing its marketing process and creating a loyal fan base.
To further enhance its marketing capacity and reach, the School’s management needs to develop strategies including competitive pricing that would enable greater reach. This would enable the school match up to its competitor offers while offering differentiation in training and development. It is also essential that the school tackles the lack of consistency or integration in its marketing initiatives. There is therefore need to do an extensive and comprehensive audit to inform planning for such an endeavor and creation of a workable and effective strategy towards that end.
Appropriate Sponsorship programs should also be sought and developed to benefit both the development and financial standing of the school, as well as individual players in their professional development (Barrand 2005). Sponsorships could come from local companies that would like to affiliate so as to benefit the school as well as gain from the school’s target market and marketing potential. Other sponsors can be sought from the manufacturers of sports apparel and equipment, who can help kit the school and offer its branded merchandise at discounted rates to the school’s growing membership and following. They in turn can gain from the marketing platform and mutually with the school from proceeds from sales.
The school should also leverage on its earlier products (the high capacity and successful players who have managed to gain entry into professional football and fame) and their success. These individuals can be engaged in advertisements and the enhancement of awareness of the school’s capacity and ability to bring forth desired success (Fullerton 2007). They can also feature in events of the school providing acknowledgement of the school’s capacity and also to motivate the trainees in camp.
The school should focus more of its marketing effort on the enhancement of the online platform and its development for extended usage such as in the communication with its consumers and their feedback, enrolment, advertising, and general trade including sale of tickets for events and the school’s branded promotional items and apparel. This is essentially because the Internet is fast becoming a point of convergence for all media and a platform for socialization on a global scale (Howard 2000).
This report consists of a marketing audit that I conducted during my placement at the Cambridge Elite Soccer School as an Administrative assistant and doubling up as a Brand assistant. The report has in summary described Cambridge Elite Soccer School (CESS), its history and achievements in its line of business, its objectives and mission. The report has further described its marketing approach as well as discussed its strategic approach and the various external/environmental factors that have influenced it in its line of business. Added to this, its standing compared to its direct and indirect competitors has been described detailing its relative success at a differentiation strategy.
The report then gives the result of a study done through the administration of questionnaires which shows success in the school’s marketing in its early life and which serves as impetus to the school’s management team to find strategies, ways and means of enhancing its potential in marketing. The report finally gives recommendations on the areas of potential improvement and enhancement.
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Fullerton, S., 2007. Sports marketing. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Gladden, J., and W., Sutton, 2005. “Marketing principles applied to sport management.” In: L. MasteraJexis, C. Barr, & M. Huns (Eds), Principles and practice of sport management. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Griffin, J., 1996. The Internet’s expanding role in building customer loyalty. Direct Marketing, 59(9), 46-50
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CESS – Cambridge Elite Soccer School.
Results collated from questionnaires administered
Number of respondents – 410 (both email and post)
70% (287 respondents) confirmed participation in the school’s events and activities ranging from being spectators at fixtures and league games, to in-house participatory games and even bringing young family members to enroll at the school.
45% of the respondents above (129 respondents) confirmed having participated for two and a half years of the schools three and a half year existence.
80% (328 of the 410 respondents) were willing to participate in the school’s events going forward.
The school received a high rating at an average of 6.2 points in a scale of 1 to 10.
Most of the respondents were from the locality of Cambridge at 89 %. The rest were spread out in the environs.