Attract new fans? Follow the MK method…

Attract new fans? Follow the MK method…

Rob Fielding argues that the Valiants could learn a lot from Milton Keynes’ forthcoming family funday this weekend.

Rob Fielding writes…

While it’s fair to say that the method of Milton Keynes entry into the Football League still annoys me (and I still refuse to use the “Dons” part of their name) it’s hard to argue with the way the club have marketed itself.

The club averages just under 8,000 this season while Vale have attracted an average of just over 5,000. And Milton Keynes’ average is set to go even higher after the club announced it has already sold nearly 10,000 tickets for this weekend’s family fun day.

If Vale want to attract new, younger supporters to ValePark (and it makes perfect sense to do so) then they could do a lot worse than copy the MK method…

If Vale want to attract new, younger supporters to ValePark (and it makes perfect sense to do so) then they could do a lot worse than copy the MK method…

I believe the key elements of their Family Fun Day are these:

  1. It’s a very attractive offer
  2. It’s been promoted heavily

After all, it’s no good promoting something if no-one wants to go, but the family funday has heavily discounted ticket prices plus an impressive range of family entertainment starting three hours before the match. It includes fairground rides, games, competitions, food stalls, freebies from the football club and football skills lessons. In total, there are over 50 stalls and attractions starting three hours before the game kicks off.

Wow, that’s some achievement and it’s certainly attractive enough for me to try and persuade my nine year-old to his first Vale away game. In fact, after seeing what’s on offer (and what nine year-old boy doesn’t want to have a go of a mini digger, ride on funfair rides and see a display of creepy crawly insects?) he now wants to bring his friend with him. That, in a nutshell, shows how these things work. My child is attracted by what’s on offer and as a result Milton Keynes can expect an extra two seats in the away end to be filled.

You don’t just promote these events once and think that’s enough…

Milton Keynes have also been promoting this like crazy. It’s been on the official Vale website, it’s on constant repeat on the MK Dons website (you don’t just promote these events once and think that’s enough) and all over the local Milton Keynes press. There’s even a flyer for fans to download from the website and print off and a dedicated Facebook page. And the promotion has clearly worked if an extra 2,000 tickets have been sold.

I think it proves that you can put on an event and attract a new audience but only if you do it right. Firstly, you need to make sure that the offer is attractive and will entice people in and then you need to let them know about it.

Chairman Norman Smurthwaite has stated on numerous occasions that he welcomes sensible suggestions from the fans. Here’s mine – have a chat with the Milton Keynes commercial team on Saturday. It could be very beneficial.