In the aftermath of the World Cup, women’s football has rarely been held in such high esteem. The media coverage that followed this tournament was unprecedented in the women’s game. On top of that, some of the players have become household names around the world, with Megan Rapinoe flying the flag against sexism and homophobia as well as unflinchingly taking on Donald Trump.
The personalities of the players are coming through, and that’s what will create an emotional connection between the fans and the sport. In turn, this is how women’s football must convert its well wishers and casual fans into passionate fans who follow the story lines as well as the games.
With Lisa Parfitt, Robin Clarke, Bruna Zanin-Juresic and Adrian Farina we had a stellar panel at Howard Kennedy in central London, moderated by Carrie Brown. With Engine Sport, Endeavor, Twitter and Visa respectively, the media landscape was covered, especially with the Football Writers’ Association Chair asking the questions.
Below are some of the key takeaways from last night’s event:
Growing womens’ football is a long-term project
Patience is a big thing, said Robin Clarke.
The women’s game is decades behind the men’s game, so it’s important not to try to do too much too soon.
It’s a great metaphor for other things
Brand marketing has moved on from looking solely for eyeballs and media value. Now, brands want to tell stories and engage directly with sports fans.
Women’s football, according to Adrian Farina, is a valuable metaphor for other things they can use to tell stories to fans.
Are free tickets the answer?
It’s becoming the defining debate of the start of the WSL season: should clubs be offering free tickets or making fans pay – even nominally?
Filling stadiums is important, as is creating fans. But so too is building a business and creating a transactional relationship between fans and clubs. It’ll be interesting to see what the best course of action is.
Data and marketing is paramount
Perhaps more importantly, however, clubs should be able to market their women’s teams better. Fans know when the men’s game is on, but do they know their women’s team is playing?
Are the clubs creating a direct relationship with their fans through clever use of data? There’s a clear need for more joined up marketing in the women’s game – and that’s one of the best ways of getting fans into the game.
The next Digital Sport London event will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on September 9th. We’ll be talking about the future of cricket with Owen Hughes, Nissan; Chris Hurst, ex-BBC and ICC; and Andy Muggleton, MCC.