Living in Seattle, it’s been interesting to watch the growth of our city’s Major League Soccer franchise. In just two years, Seattle Sounders FC has made professional soccer fashionable in the Pacific Northwest. Sounders FC averages more than 36,000 fans per home game. The team leads the MLS in both attendance and merchandise sales.
How have the Sounders done it? It’s more than putting a winning team on the field. Sounders FC set out from the beginning to create a fan experience on par with the famous soccer clubs in Europe. Take a look at this video of the passionate crowd at a recent Sounders game.
The Sounders FC marketing plan centers around community outreach. The team connects with young, soccer-playing kids through a well designed summer camp program. The camps not only help build the Sounders FC brand, but they also promote the game of soccer.
Sounders FC takes extra steps to make their customer base feel as if it is part of the team. Season ticket holders are members of a fan alliance that has a say in the direction of the franchise, including a vote on the fate of the general manager. The team gave away 20,000 green and blue scarves the first season. The scarves are very popular in European soccer leagues and have been a big hit here.
After a particularly bad loss at home this season, Sounders FC made a bold move. The team offered a one game credit to season ticket holders toward next year’s tickets. It cost Sounders FC almost a million dollars. But it proved to be a shrewd marketing move. By showing fans the team will not accept losing, Sounders FC comes out looking like a winning organization.
You don’t have to be a soccer fan to appreciate the Sounders FC approach. It’s all about putting the customer first. And that’s a strategy that scores in every business.