Manchester United - Clients get star treatment

Corporate boxes are big business, be they at horse show grounds, racecourses, rugby grounds or football stadia. They can be eye-wateringly expensive, however, and the decision by businesses to entertain clients in this way is not one that is taken lightly.

Challenge

Even a football club as successful as Manchester United - the 2008 European Champions League winners - needs marketing to close the sale of corporate packages. These range from tables in the Old Trafford ground's restaurants to eight-seater executive boxes.

Strategy

The club has around 2,100 seasonal hospitality clients who receive marketing in the run-up to the football season. Around 80 per cent of hospitality clients are male, ABC 1, aged 25 to 55, and a large proportion of them are corporate customers.

"It's important that clients receive something physical from us, given we're asking them to renew facilities that can cost anything from £2,000 to more than £100,000," says Manchester United venue marketing manager Sharon Burns.

A lavish mail pack was put together by TBWA/Manchester, offering individuals the option of renewing their package for the forthcoming football season. The pack featured images of star players and depicted memorable moments from the previous season. Quotes were also included from manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former manager Sir Matt Busby, reminding the recipient of match highlights.

This was the first time the club had produced such a detailed and personalised pack. "In the past our communications to this audience haven't always reflected how highly valued these clients are to Manchester United," says Burns.

The club also introduced a client relationship team to give every recipient a personal contact at the club, giving them an opportunity to discuss their renewal or any other issues before the season started.

Execution

An email campaign was sent to propects ahead of the mail pack to raise awareness of the renewal date.

The pack included a personalised renewal form for customers, detailing the price of their facilities next season. The campaign was followed up with a phone call from the personal contact named in the mail pack.

Burns says: "As a significant number of clients are spending a large amount of money with us, they were all contacted by telephone by their client relationship executive to check they received their renewal pack and were happy with everything inside it."

Results

Manchester United was reluctant to discuss results, as Marketing Direct went to press ahead of the season's start. But it says the campaign has been well received. "Clients were impressed with the pack and felt privileged to receive it, and so we deem the campaign to have been a success," says Burns.

Brand: Manchester United
Client: Manchester United
Brief: To encourage businesses to renew their hospitality packages
Target audience: Individuals who had a hospitality package last season
Budget: Undisclosed
Agency: TBWA/Manchester

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