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Competition in club soccer, as in other parts of life, is a natural occurrence. Multiple clubs vying for financial, marketing and branding superiority within the same community is one of the biggest challenges they face. However, no matter what business strategies you're using, it’s not in being “better” than the competition that clubs thrive – it’s in being different.
Discover why your club should focus on being different rather than being better:
A common misconception in the club soccer world is that to stand out, you must prove your worth by comparing your product or service to that of your rivals. Instead, clubs who enjoy the most success all have one thing in common: they position themselves as different in what they do and as completely unique when compared to what others are offering in the same space.
In her article “The 16 Rules of Brand Strategy,” author Jasmine Bina perfectly sums up why uniqueness is at the root of all successful branding campaigns:
“Strong brands are unique. They say and do something different than other brands. They take a unique tone, follow a controversial belief or see the future through a different lens.
Many spaces with two major players fall into a “better” trap. Box’s brand is a better version of Dropbox, but that does nothing to differentiate them. Better is actually worse. Different is what matters.”
That sounds great but it’s still broad. You’ve seen and heard marketing campaigns and online branding initiatives that stick out because, well, they’re memorable in some way or another. Sometimes, it’s even hard to put your finger on exactly how they’re separating themselves from the competition, yet the question remains:
Why do this? What’s the upside to being different, besides falling into the “better trap” as described above?
Let’s dive into some concrete reasons why emphasizing the differences that each club inherently possesses ends up bringing more long-term value to your operations:
You Can Capitalize on New Audiences
In the age of digital fragmentation and niche audiences, most believe that there’s no more uncharted territory in the youth soccer world. In other words, families have seen and heard it all before, so uniqueness, as a concept, isn’t even viable.
That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s a byproduct of the “better” narrative that multiple clubs are fighting over the same corner of the playing field. Instead, you should be focused on creating your own unique playing field. There’s plenty of space to move around when you’re the only one out there.
Oftentimes, said unique playing field already exists in an abstract way – it’s usually tied to your club’s mission or values statement, the benefits you emphasize when communicating with customers and so on. It just takes someone to grow the grass properly and nurture it to its full potential.
Essentially, being different in club soccer terms and using that to craft a singular viewpoint from which you can connect on a deeper level with consumers is the ultimate goal. Honing in on that specific angle will also help you pinpoint issues (and solutions) that prospective customers (families) didn’t even know existed.
You Can Forge an Authentic Relationship with Your Customers
That deeper human connection I mentioned a moment ago? It’s a quality that has never been more valuable to a business or non-profit.
These days, trust in a brand’s authenticity means everything to consumers. Buyers don’t have time for frivolous, surface-level approaches when it comes to marketing materials or justifications from companies who have already fallen into the “better trap.”
To make a lasting impression, your club must care not only about your clients’ problems and how you can solve them but also about their journey and how they’re interacting with your brand. We’ve said this before on the blog but, whether it’s through the mobile optimization of your website or an increased use of social media to distribute your content, meeting your customers where they are is key to forging this strong connection.
You don’t achieve authenticity as a brand through being better – all you’re doing is trying to improve on someone’s existing model. Instead, look inwards for the solution; don’t be afraid, as a club, to be yourself. It’s the new gold standard for increasing revenue, engagement and your overall presence in the marketplace.
You Can Pivot Conversation in Your Favor
The “better” trap is predicated on the fact that your club is inserting itself into the same conversation that other clubs are already having with consumers. In other words, you do X feature and offer Y benefit in a bigger, more impressive way than the solution they currently have.
At the end of the day, what if the real difference-maker would be to change the conversation to one that contains revelation about the customer and not your club? To paraphrase one of America’s most enduring political quotes, ask not what your product or service can do for the consumer, but rather what consumers can do (and do differently) in their everyday lives with that you offer.
Tell families what they should consider as potential improvements to their daily routines instead of how your club will provide a better solution to those problems than the next guy. What your club will actually be selling is the benefits of an altered lifestyle, a style of messaging that leaves a more lasting mark on the audience you reach.
In fact, some consumers may not even recognize that there is an issue until you make it known. After that, once a few people jump on board through the power of word-of-mouth and social media communication, the possibilities to grow your audience and, as a result, your revenue streams, are vast.
The moral of this blog post? Don’t fall into the “better trap” that comes from comparing your brand, club and/or services to your competitors. You’ll continually come up short in your own mind and, as a manager or owner, it’s not a productive way of looking at your industry.
Instead, ask yourself how your organization is truly different from everyone else. What do you offer consumers that cannot be gotten anywhere else? The identification of this and the pursuit of making that presence known will be the key to your business’ long-term success and sustainability.
Want more tips on how to take your operation to the next level? Discover how Amilia can automate your soccer club’s operations.