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18 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

But surely that's down to the marketing/hype?

It's about creating a product that people want to buy. 

Often we talk about people talking about rugby league with phrases like "the product is great, we just don't shout about it" without stopping to ask whether the product is actually that good. Yes, the entertainment on the pitch is often great but that's not the total sum of the product. The "product" on offer at some RL grounds is often a combination of bad food, flat beer, open terraces in the rain, long queues (especially for female fans) for filthy bogs, retail park stadiums with few amenities around them (Twickenham, on the other hand, has around 15 pubs within walking distance of the station/stadium according to Google Maps), poor sightlines and restricted views, half-arsed pre-match entertainment, not an awful lot for the kids to do and a long wait to get out of the car park.

The sport has tried to create an event culture with initiatives such as Magic Weekend, the Grand Final and semi-final double headers, but it has generally struggled to sell these to people outside the core RL audience. 

I don't think you can dismiss the success that the RFU (and most American sports) have had in turning their events into products that people want to buy as just "hype". 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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Just now, whatmichaelsays said:

It's about creating a product that people want to buy. 

Often we talk about people talking about rugby league with phrases like "the product is great, we just don't shout about it" without stopping to ask whether the product is actually that good. Yes, the entertainment on the pitch is often great but that's not the total sum of the product. The "product" on offer at some RL grounds is often a combination of bad food, flat beer, open terraces in the rain, long queues (especially for female fans) for filthy bogs, poor sightlines and restricted views, half-arsed pre-match entertainment, not an awful lot for the kids to do and a long wait to get out of the car park.

The sport has tried to create an event culture with initiatives such as Magic Weekend, the Grand Final and semi-final double headers, but it has generally struggled to sell these to people outside the core RL audience. 

I don't think you can dismiss the success that the RFU (and most American sports) have had in turning their events into products that people want to buy as just "hype". 

I'm certainly not disagreeing with you, but I think there's a bit of semantics going on in this thread. I think the post that started all of this was referring to the 'product' as the on-field action. Arguably, when talking about the 'product' it's impossible to separate the on-field action from the pre-match entertainment, from the marketing, from the 'hype' - they're all integral parts of the overall experience. 

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2 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

I'm certainly not disagreeing with you, but I think there's a bit of semantics going on in this thread. I think the post that started all of this was referring to the 'product' as the on-field action. Arguably, when talking about the 'product' it's impossible to separate the on-field action from the pre-match entertainment, from the marketing, from the 'hype' - they're all integral parts of the overall experience. 

The two things are intrinsically linked. The thing I am buying, for the most part, is a form of entertainment and that includes both the on-field action (which is inherently variable as it relies on factors such as player performance, weather conditions, etc) and the overall experience that is delivered. 

Put this in a different context, if you went to the West End to see Les Miserables - a show that would generally be considered a very "high quality" product - but they decided to cut some corners on the set design, cheap out on the props, cut back on the bar staff during the interval and decided not to clean the theatre that morning, you'd rightly feel disappointed and short-changed. It doesn't matter how good the storyline or the acting is - the experience is soured by those various elements that are all intrinsic to the "product". 

And all that matters because, as I said, the on field product can't be relied on to be that good all of the time. Like all sports, we have incredible, thrilling games and we have dreadful, turgid games - arguably in equal measure. That makes the "other stuff" much more important, because it's the stuff that ensures that people have a good time, irrespective of the quality of the game and that's the stuff that the RFU, the NFL and MLB get right. 

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2 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

The two things are intrinsically linked. The thing I am buying, for the most part, is a form of entertainment and that includes both the on-field action (which is inherently variable as it relies on factors such as player performance, weather conditions, etc) and the overall experience that is delivered. 

Put this in a different context, if you went to the West End to see Les Miserables - a show that would generally be considered a very "high quality" product - but they decided to cut some corners on the set design, cheap out on the props, cut back on the bar staff during the interval and decided not to clean the theatre that morning, you'd rightly feel disappointed and short-changed. It doesn't matter how good the storyline or the acting is - the experience is soured by those various elements that are all intrinsic to the "product". 

Exactly. But if we're widening the definition of 'product' to include all of these elements, then to extend your analogy I would argue that it also includes the promotional video advertising the show, clips/posts on social media, the website where they bought tickets, the TV programme or viral video where they saw a member of the cast singing a song, the TV interviews with the producers, their friends and work colleagues talking about how good the show is, etc etc - i.e. marketing and hype. It's impossible to separate out these different elements as part of the overall experience of the 'product'. And the extent to which each of these different elements influences each individual is likely to be weighted very differently.

8 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

And all that matters because, as I said, the on field product can't be relied on to be that good all of the time. Like all sports, we have incredible, thrilling games and we have dreadful, turgid games - arguably in equal measure. That makes the "other stuff" much more important, because it's the stuff that ensures that people have a good time, irrespective of the quality of the game and that's the stuff that the RFU, the NFL and MLB get right. 

So marketing and hype are an integral part of the mix. Basically what you seem to be saying is there is a need for RL to identify every possible area of their 'product', in order to ensure that they optimise every aspect to improve consumer experience. I certainly don't disagree with that.

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10 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

Put this in a different context, if you went to the West End to see Les Miserables - a show that would generally be considered a very "high quality" product - but they decided to cut some corners on the set design, cheap out on the props, cut back on the bar staff during the interval and decided not to clean the theatre that morning, you'd rightly feel disappointed and short-changed. It doesn't matter how good the storyline or the acting is - the experience is soured by those various elements that are all intrinsic to the "product". 

I was pondering this a bit as well because there's an element whereby even if the actual Les Mis wasn't perfect the time spent going to see it might still be a really positive one. Accommodation packages, seeing friends, having fun etc.

Why are away games often more fun than home ones? Because the experience of attending makes it so.

The Challenge Cup Final used to feel like a celebration - now it feels like 80 minutes in a rented stadium.

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5 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

Exactly. But if we're widening the definition of 'product' to include all of these elements, then to extend your analogy I would argue that it also includes the promotional video advertising the show, clips/posts on social media, the website where they bought tickets, the TV programme or viral video where they saw a member of the cast singing a song, the TV interviews with the producers, their friends and work colleagues talking about how good the show is, etc etc - i.e. marketing and hype. It's impossible to separate out these different elements as part of the overall experience of the 'product'. And the extent to which each of these different elements influences each individual is likely to be weighted very differently.

 

I'd argue you're confusing marketing with advertising here. 

At the base level, marketing is about understanding the audience RL wants to attract, and building the product that those audiences want to buy. 

The advertising on social media and everything else are part of that process, but they come very much after. 

For me, I just think there is a dangerous fallacy in dismissing things as "hype". As others have said, there are people who will watch this weekend's RU internationals because they enjoy it - either because of the on-field action, because of the wider 'event', or a combination of the two. Whatever combination of that it is, it hasn't happened by accident.

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1 minute ago, gingerjon said:

I was pondering this a bit as well because there's an element whereby even if the actual Les Mis wasn't perfect the time spent going to see it might still be a really positive one. Accommodation packages, seeing friends, having fun etc.

And for some people, the quality of performance of Les Mis might not matter much at all - they may subconsciously weight the fun with their friends as a more important barometer of their overall 'experience'. This is the argument I was making about those armchair fans tuning in to the 6 Nations, for whom the on-field action is largely irrelevant, whereas the interaction with their mates is much more important.

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2 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I'd argue you're confusing marketing with advertising here. 

Semantics. I'm arguing that you can't separate marketing/advertising/whatever you want to call it from the overall 'product' experience. Is the John Lewis Christmas advert marketing, advertising, or part of the overall experience of shopping with John Lewis? From your Les Mis example, surely it's impossible to separate them out.

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2 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

And for some people, the quality of performance of Les Mis might not matter much at all - they may subconsciously weight the fun with their friends as a more important barometer of their overall 'experience'. This is the argument I was making about those armchair fans tuning in to the 6 Nations, for whom the on-field action is largely irrelevant, whereas the interaction with their mates is much more important.

Indeed. But the attitude is then often expressed that the people who enjoy a bad game or a dull game are fools, idiots, or just plain wrong. If they were always bored by the match, or if every West End show off-key, then they would find other ways to have fun. The bottom line is that the vast majority of people who watch rugby union do so because they like rugby union enough to watch it.

We really could do with stopping the purity tests for rugby league fans and allowing the same kind of attitude.

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5 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I was pondering this a bit as well because there's an element whereby even if the actual Les Mis wasn't perfect the time spent going to see it might still be a really positive one. Accommodation packages, seeing friends, having fun etc.

Why are away games often more fun than home ones? Because the experience of attending makes it so.

The Challenge Cup Final used to feel like a celebration - now it feels like 80 minutes in a rented stadium.

The thing with something like a West End show is that it is, for most people, a 'destination' type event. Like you say, people will build holidays or weekend breaks around them and for a lot of people, they are a special occasion, so there is a level of 'investment' that people have in them, both financially and emotionally. The American sports events in London have a similar feel. 

I think RL has tried to create that with things like Magic Weekend, but the important part that has been missed is that understanding of who the audience is. All we have as a result is a product that appeals broadly to the same people who would otherwise buy the same round of games if they were held in their usual locations, but with the added hassle of travel and accommodation.

I think there is a fundamental issue here with too few clubs / SL in general really not understanding the audiences they want to reach and what those audiences actually want from a night/Sunday afternoon out. All of the rest- the advertising, the PR and media relations and the social media activity, is wasted without that fundamental starting point.  

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4 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

Semantics. I'm arguing that you can't separate marketing/advertising/whatever you want to call it from the overall 'product' experience. Is the John Lewis Christmas advert marketing, advertising, or part of the overall experience of shopping with John Lewis? From your Les Mis example, surely it's impossible to separate them out.

The John Lewis ad is advertising. It has no bearing itself on the product, the service, or experience that you might get in a JL store, but it is at least designed to be a reflection of what JL stands for and the type of people they're wanting to attract. 

The 'what JL stands for, who they're trying to attract and the experience that they get in store' bit is the marketing. 

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56 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

But surely that's down to the marketing/hype?

I would have thought its down to the marketing in getting the product right for those that attend/watch... of course the promotion of the product is important but you have to have a product that suits those your trying to attract and hence attract...

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Another sport but when I've been to NFL games in USA. A jam packed large stadium a lot of people for most of the time ain't watching what's happening on the pitch, even when something is happening on the pitch... They have a product that suits the die hard fans and the casual spectators...

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2 minutes ago, redjonn said:

I would have thought its down to the marketing in getting the product right for those that attend/watch... of course the promotion of the product is important but you have to have a product that suits those your trying to attract and hence attract...

There's an element here about what moving parts you can control.

If you're putting on the event then you can pretty much control everything aside from what happens on the pitch so, if you are looking to engage an audience such that they will want to come back, then you would put all of your efforts into that.

(I think this is the key message from the opening list. Be really good at the things you can control).

The one thing you can't control is the quality of the match so don't make that the focus of your engagement or the justification for why people would come back.

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14 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

The John Lewis ad is advertising. It has no bearing itself on the product, the service, or experience that you might get in a JL store, but it is at least designed to be a reflection of what JL stands for and the type of people they're wanting to attract. 

I disagree. It might not have any bearing on the product/service they receive, but it's all part of the 'experience' - it's one of the things that will get people to walk in to a JL store in the first place. The extent to which it's an important part of the experience will differ for each individual. Just as the quality of the on-field product is more important for some people than others as part of their overall experience. So it may only be a minor part of the experience, but it's still part of it.

14 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

The 'what JL stands for, who they're trying to attract and the experience that they get in store' bit is the marketing. 

I think you're confusing marketing with market research. 😁

Edited by RugbyLeagueGeek
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35 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

The two things are intrinsically linked. The thing I am buying, for the most part, is a form of entertainment and that includes both the on-field action (which is inherently variable as it relies on factors such as player performance, weather conditions, etc) and the overall experience that is delivered. 

Put this in a different context, if you went to the West End to see Les Miserables - a show that would generally be considered a very "high quality" product - but they decided to cut some corners on the set design, cheap out on the props, cut back on the bar staff during the interval and decided not to clean the theatre that morning, you'd rightly feel disappointed and short-changed. It doesn't matter how good the storyline or the acting is - the experience is soured by those various elements that are all intrinsic to the "product". 

And all that matters because, as I said, the on field product can't be relied on to be that good all of the time. Like all sports, we have incredible, thrilling games and we have dreadful, turgid games - arguably in equal measure. That makes the "other stuff" much more important, because it's the stuff that ensures that people have a good time, irrespective of the quality of the game and that's the stuff that the RFU, the NFL and MLB get right. 

I do feel it is in our major events where we need to be outstanding at this stuff. These are the events where we are going to get people buying into the sport and at the moment this is where I think we are getting it wrong, mainly through doing things on the cheap. In the main I don't think our regular club games at SL level are a major problem, particularly if you go to decent games at the likes of Warrington, Leeds, Hull, St Helens etc.  Sure I think more could be done with fan zones etc. but the events generally hold up quite well to other major club events I have been to. 

The big cup and marquee events though are the ones that now miss the mark. Inconsistent approach to pre-match presentation and entertainment is frustrating, a real dumbing down of fanzones (outsourcing to Rugby AM crew) and absolutely doing things on the cheap have not impressed the people I have taken along to new games (including the Grand Final and England games). 

If I was now going to take someone new now, I'd choose a Wire home game versus a middle of the table team over one of the marquee events. 

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3 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

I disagree. It might not have any bearing on the product/service they receive, but it's all part of the 'experience' - it's one of the things that will get people to walk in to a JL store in the first place. The extent to which it's an important part of the experience will differ for each individual. Just as the quality of the on-field product is more important for some people than others as part of their overall experience. So it may only be a minor part of the experience, but it's still part of it.

I think you're confusing marketing with market research.

Are you a professional Marketer? 

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Just now, fighting irish said:

Are you a professional Marketer? 

No - I'm just a keyboard warrior. My last comment was a tongue-in-cheek response to this:

30 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

I'd argue you're confusing marketing with advertising here.

I thoroughly enjoy reading @whatmichaelsays posts, and I gather he is someone who knows what he's talking about in this area (or he is a top class bullsh----r!).

My argument is that if we're defining the 'product' as the overall experience (as some posters have argued on this thread), then it has to encompass every element of that experience, including the advertising/marketing/hype/whatever you want to call it.

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9 minutes ago, Dave T said:

The big cup and marquee events though are the ones that now miss the mark. Inconsistent approach to pre-match presentation and entertainment is frustrating, a real dumbing down of fanzones (outsourcing to Rugby AM crew) and absolutely doing things on the cheap have not impressed the people I have taken along to new games (including the Grand Final and England games). 

I was thinking the other day about the various artists that they used to get for pre-match entertainment in the 90s. We've had Diana Ross, Status Quo, Bonnie Tyler, Edwin Starr, Cliff Richard, Paul Young. Ok these aren't to everyone's tastes, but they are well known names. When did they stop doing that?

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22 minutes ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

No - I'm just a keyboard warrior. My last comment was a tongue-in-cheek response to this:

I thoroughly enjoy reading @whatmichaelsays posts, and I gather he is someone who knows what he's talking about in this area (or he is a top class bullsh----r!).

My argument is that if we're defining the 'product' as the overall experience (as some posters have argued on this thread), then it has to encompass every element of that experience, including the advertising/marketing/hype/whatever you want to call it.

I think you are playing semantics on the last para.

To keep it simple I always think of it being two parts - the product and how you sell it. People can see the marketing and not 'buy' and attend the product, and people can attend the product and not be marketed to. They are two separate elements.

It is probably helpful to think of the product as every bit of service you put on.

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12 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I think you are playing semantics on the last para.

To keep it simple I always think of it being two parts - the product and how you sell it. People can see the marketing and not 'buy' and attend the product, and people can attend the product and not be marketed to. They are two separate elements.

It is probably helpful to think of the product as every bit of service you put on.

I think there's been a lot of semantics throughout the thread, with people operating to different definitions of words that mean one thing to one person, and something different to somebody else. If we're talking overall 'experience' (which a lot of posters on this thread have mentioned or alluded to), then I think that includes both the product and how you sell it. Armchair viewers don't get anywhere near the same experience as people attending a game in person, so for this person I think the 'hype' side of the experience is probably more important than some of the other elements that have also been mentioned (pre-match, stadium experience etc etc).

Edited by RugbyLeagueGeek
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14 hours ago, Futtocks said:

I'm not upset at all, but I'm glad we agree that RL should put down roots anywhere those roots will flourish.

New territories don't necessarily respond the same way as the traditional breeding grounds. Women's Football shows that, with the USA being one of the most dominant sides in that game, despite the men's game there having been fairly low-key for decades.

But if you get traction in areas where youngsters are more likely to go on to universities and, then to positions of influence in their later years, then that's an advantage that RL fans have often disparaged in favour of some out-of-date notions about "keeping it real".

Rugby League as a whole has always fought to be an open game, where people can play freely without the threat of punishment from a certain other sporting body, but some traditional "fans" seem to want that pathway bricked up to anyone who feels like a stranger.

Most youngsters go to university now. And you are once again assuming that working folks don't have influence. Last election proves you wrong on that. Football is becoming more elitist by the day and the big clubs are moving further away from the fanbases. That leaves an opening in these areas for a new sport.

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17 hours ago, redjonn said:

 

The problem is most, maybe all clubs can not afford a fully professional marketing team.

It could argued, to the contrary, that most, maybe all clubs cannot afford not to have a fully professional Marketing team. 

In my experience most businesses, particularly SME's are run on a wing and a prayer. 

One business I worked with couldn't grasp the principles of promotion. "I tried leaflets once and they didn't work". Well no they wouldn't if they're not integrated with other forms of promotion with a well defined objective. Another business showed me, with pride, a few hundred business cards he'd had made a few years ago. When I enquired why he still had so many left and hadn't given them out? He said "are you kidding, do you know how much they cost me?" . That's the sort of mindset we are dealing with.

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2 hours ago, RugbyLeagueGeek said:

I don't think this analogy really works. Other bands/singers aren't necessarily going to try and copy Ed Sheeran, but I bet many learn lessons from his production, marketing etc. 

UK RL needs to learn lessons from other sports and industries in order to try and raise profile and become more relevant to the wider public. One of the things RL 'did well' was a set international calendar with regular series against the Aussies. We haven't done that for years now. 

I don't disagree with that, I'm just pointing out that many RL fans attitude is that if you don't like RL then it's you that has the problem and are in the wrong. 

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