How you holding up, Cosmos Country? It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here, huh? While back-to-back wins make it feel like things are getting back to normal, most of the questions that surfaced in Sport’s Illustrated’s ill-timed surprise are still unanswered. And as noted here earlier, deafening silence from the club has a lot of us feeling antsy.
The joy of this column is that we get to look at every problem as a marketing challenge. So while my colleagues are wondering what happens in a post-NASL future, and pondering the possibilities of domestic pro/rel (say THAT three times fast!), we’re taking a look at what is often the toughest simple thing for a club to do. How do the Cosmos say they’re sorry, and get us all to move on?
What Else Should I Be? All Apologies
Marketing departments are notoriously bad with apologies. “My bad” just doesn’t come naturally to the very people whose job it is to remind you how awesome their brand is. Go figure. But in this case, an apology really could be a great opportunity for the Cosmos to head into the playoffs with an investment in goodwill among the most passionate fans.
I would start with a succinct message to fans on the website, Twitter and Facebook channels. Something along the lines of, “We’re sorry for leaving you in the dark. We’ve been busy planning the next exciting chapter for the club, and can’t wait to share with all of you. Learn more at the final regular season home game on Saturday, October 22 at Shuart.”
And the club should serve that up with plenty of time to move tickets for the finale. I’d drop it on Monday morning, just after the dust has settled from the Ottawa game.
With a Little Help From My Friends
Then they’ve got to back it up. The last game of the season is already slated to be Fan Appreciation Night, and it would behoove the Cosmos organization to appreciate their *asses* off this year.
I would recommend bringing in the sponsoring partners and pulling out all the stops:
- The club should greet everyone with a “Thank you, fans” tailgate featuring the full complement of Buffalo Wild Wings’ party menu in the parking lot before kickoff. I mean, I’ll forgive a lot for wings…
- As fans file into the stadium, hand each one a letter from the Cosmos, signed by Seamus O’Brien and (or?) other execs that are part of the long term management plan. The copy must be brief and to the point, striking a tone of gratitude and purpose. This is the club’s opportunity to lay rumors to rest, answering as many big questions as possible about the future of the team and the league, in black and white. They should be honest and open about what they’re still working out. And of course, post the whole thing on the site after the game. Finally, each letter would carry a unique raffle number for a series of big drawings before kickoff and during halftime.
- Make the finale an Under Armour shirts off our backs game. Between starters and subs, 18 lucky fans are going home with game-worn jerseys.
- The Emirates football exchange program flies and accommodates a winner and guest to see a match featuring any of their sponsored clubs. Milan, Madrid, Paris? Anywhere they fly and have their name on the kit is fair game. They could hold this drawing to the end, during the Man of the Match presentation, to add value for that ongoing promotion.
- An Octoberfest experience for several winners and guests courtesy of Samuel Adams. This could also be a co-sponsor with Rally if they stick to one of the late October in-state festivals, like Amherst’s Last Stop Octoberfest.
You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best
Finally, the lifeblood of any soccer club, especially in the States, is a dedicated support section. Just ask the NPSL’s Detroit City FC or USL’s FC Cincinnati. Making it right with them goes a long, long way in terms of fan goodwill. So the Cosmos should prioritize the 5 Points’ good graces, and view any effort that goes into that relationship as an investment in gameday experience and social media marketing. And I think that “effort,” in this case, should be compensated season tickets next year for the entire group.
So that’s how I would go about mending fences from the front office. As always, please share your ideas in the comments below.
Oh yeah – Sports Illustrated? Next time you want to surprise us, how about bringing back the football phone?