The GWS Giants are an AFL side doing it tough - based at Homebush in the inner west of Sydney. To listen to their management they are flying - but in reality they are second bottom, not many people go to their games and they are clocking up big loses. There are plenty of lessons to learn from the way they go about things.
1 A business name
When you are setting up a business you spend a lot of time thinking about the name. In early days your name can quickly communicate to potential new customers what you are about. As time goes on your brand and names equate in peoples eyes. he only thing you shouldn't do is limit your room to move your brand. GWS stands for Greater Western Sydney. No-one has really heard of this area. The Giants play there home games in Canberra and Homebush - more inner west than GWS. If they had gone with Sydney Giants they could have saved a whole lot of heartache down the track.
2 Is there a customer for your product?
The AFL said there are 2m people in GWS - so there must be fans. AFL really requires at ground attendance to get people interested. So they needed to not only convert a person from League but also convert him from watching games at home with his family and friends to attending games. Add to that the transport problems in the made up town of GWS and it was never possible to develop a core supporter base. Take care when using conversion rates to be realistic even when very small conversions are required.
3 Don't offend your customer base
The first thing GWS did was sign a star League footballer - Izzy Falau. This was an act of war on League and keenly felt by their passionate supporters. There goes the market of most sports fans in GWS. Instead of encouraging support of two complementary products the weaker competitor asked them to chose. The second thing they did was declare war on the Swans. There goes the market of most AFL fans in Sydney. Instead of encouraging support of two complementary products (the play home games on alternate weekends) the weaker competitor asked them to chose. They should have been marketing joint team season tickets.
4 Know the area you are working or get partners that do
The Melbourne based administrators at the AFL have struggled to come to terms with the terminology of Sydney and this has been a barrier to connecting with potential fans. GWS - no one other than transport planners uses the term- they should have used West Sydney or Sydney. They promote the derby as the battle of the Bridge - live in Sydney 2 weeks and you know here is only one Bridge - it runs north south not east west. All other bridges are given there full name. It is incredible how often businesses can offend local sensibilities - always employ locals and listen carefully to their feedback - they are closer to your customers.