Team GB is a brand that galvanises a whole nation in support every two years. Its ongoing challenge, therefore, is how to remain relevant in between the big competition moments. Fan engagement manager Stuart Cope outlines Team GB’s five-step strategy which – as it happens – offers marketing take-outs that apply well beyond the sporting sector


Tell a story

Storytelling sits at the heart of our marketing strategy. Having a story to tell throughout the year ensures that we have an ongoing engaged audience.

The Team GB brand essence of ‘everyday people achieving extraordinary things’ is what makes Team GB so admired and easy to relate to. Our fans feel an affinity to our athletes and want to get to know them on a deeper level. So we take them closer to the action, right into the heart of our brand essence.

Take out: never forget the importance of good old-fashioned brand positioning. Know who you are and excel in your core brand offering.



Believe in extraordinary

I’m privileged that I get to work with Team GB athletes on a regular basis. Our athletes are the backbone of our brand and the best ambassadors we could have. Great brands are built on great products and Team GB is no exception to that.

The ever-present dinner party question is, “What are the athletes really like?” The simple answer is that they are genuinely lovely, normal people who achieve extraordinary feats. A ten-minute conversation with an Olympian makes you feel that you can conquer the world. Inspiration is contagious.

Take out: whatever your field of work, make sure that you surround yourself with inspiring people.



Be where the fan is

The modern-day, 24/7 sports fan is increasingly looking for more tailored content, and more frequently. We work hard to ensure that we remain at the forefront of fan engagement trends. ‘Being where the fan is’ is a good sense check for us to ensure that we are giving the fans what they want, when they want it and in the format they prefer.

There is an increasing interest in receiving content outside the direct live competition window, which is aiding our ambitions to become an always-on sports brand.

Our social media channels have revolutionised how we approach fan engagement. Profiling up-and-coming athletes or giving fans bite-sized chunks of sports content allows us to build a narrative before the Games even start, while also satisfying fans’ appetite for being armchair experts.

Take out: knowledge is power in any industry, and the power of fans continues to grow.


Data, data, data

I can be a total numbers geek and love nothing more than a fresh deck of research results. Marketing changes, consumer behaviour changes, but building a brand proposition based on a good insight with creative delivery is timeless.

That said, there will be times when you need to take a leap of faith, even if you don’t have the data to back it up.

Take out: the best marketers have conviction in their decisions, and the ability to convince others to jump on board with them.



Let it go

In Disney’s infamous words, sometimes we need to “let it go” (a little!) and relinquish the reins to let a brand flourish.

During Rio 2016, we worked with several social media influencers who used their powerful voices to increase awareness of Team GB among non-sporting audiences. They did this by taking their fans closer to the action through Team GB experiences and events.

Most of this content sat outside of Team GB channels, which begs the question ‘why bother?’ Well, because this strategy recruited us an army of new and engaged fans.

Take out: disruption in any industry will get you noticed – just make sure that you are being noticed for the right reasons.


Unexpected learning

Some of the best thinking comes from unexpected places. The entertainment industry informing sports strategy around fan engagement; sports teams informing sales staff around how to work as a high-performing team; athletes informing city lawyers about focus and determination.

The lessons of sport and other industries are transferable. Successful marketers look beyond their field to discover new approaches, learn new insights and push the boundary within their own business.

Our industry is at an exciting time in its evolution. The winners of tomorrow will be those who take brave strides based on strong data, good insights and a customer-centric strategy.