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The Marketing of Semi-Professional Australian Football (Soccer) Coaches Outside of the Professional Top Tier

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This article aims to understand how semi-professional Australian football (soccer) coaches market themselves outside of professional top tier settings, and develop  strategies to enable them to improve their marketing and job prospects with a 2 year time period, in anticipation of the new opportunities that the upcoming national second division will provide. We are looking at semi-professional (paid) coaches in comparison to amateur (volunteer) ones as the goals and aspirations of the 2 groups differ greatly, or professional coaches in the A-League/W-League environment as these professional positions are very few and across the A/W-League less than ½ of the coaches were Australian born. It contends that Australian football coaches face a number of market opportunities and challenges, and it further argues that digital marketing (social media platforms & email marketing predominantly) & an understanding of technological changes & trends would be key in helping football coaches market themselves better. Firstly as an overview, the article will first present a literature review of the research conducted around sport coaches career development. Secondly, an environmental analysis (PEST analysis, Porter’s 5 analysis, Competitor analysis, SWOT analysis) will be conducted to see what kind of opportunities and challenges football coaches face in the sports industry. Thirdly, marketing objectives will be laid out. Fourthly, a marketing strategy will be laid out. Lastly, a marketing action program will be laid out.


In terms of the different types of coaches - that from an NPL Technical Director

The challenge for coaches who want to specialise in junior or youth football in Australia is that there are coaching courses run by FFA focusing on junior or youth football for advanced courses, there are a lack of full-time roles for coaches specialising in this area, and coaches generally get less pay and prestige for coaching junior or youth teams in comparison to senior coaches

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Australian businesses are increasingly digitising their operations (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017 & 2018). In terms of marketing, digital marketing (E.g. SEM, PPC, SEO & Email marketing) is becoming the primary marketing focus for most Australian businesses, taking over from more traditional forms of marketing such as newspaper, radio & television.

    More than half the small (51%) and medium businesses (58%) have a social media presence while for large businesses the incidence is 85%. 12% of small businesses and 5% of medium businesses who don’t have a social media presence say they intend obtaining one in the next year. SMBs in the Cultural, Recreational and Personal Services sector have become the most likely to have a social media presence (79% vs 66% in 2017). Two of the main uses of social media for businesses are to provide a two-way communication system with clients or contacts and a customer feedback mechanism inviting comments, ratings and reviews. Small (34%) and medium businesses (49%) are advertising on social media more than ever before. For large businesses there was a 10-point increase to 52% this year. Social media advertising has been seen as effective across all platforms used for the majority of businesses.   The Yellow Social Media report is an annual survey of 1,516 Australian consumers on how they use social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter. Almost 9 in 10 people (88%) have a social media profile. 60% of Australians use the internet more than 5 times a day. Facebook remains the most popular platform with 91% of social media users on the platform. YouTube is used by more than half the population and is the second most popular platform (53%). Instagram comes in third at 39%, then Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn.

There’s little research into examining sports coaches career developments. However, one research paper has discovered that even though policy documents and stakeholder interviews indicated that coach career development was considered important, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC now Sport Australia) doesn’t clearly define the strategy for the ongoing development of coaches as individuals or in sporting organisations. Coaching career development is often limited to accreditation and practical workshops & education within their policy implementations, even though coach career development is considered vital for growth and success for the sport. Athlete career development is regarded as a key responsibility from grassroots to professional levels of Australian sports culture, with resources allocated to nurture their development, especially in recent years in regards to mental health. In contrast to sports coach career development, coaches are expected to nurture themselves, but without the allocation of proper resources for their development. Often those transitioning from a professional sporting career into coaching do receive support through their athlete/players agency or association (i.e. Professional Footballer’s Association) but at the semi-professional level they do not. Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has recently been set up and is looking into assisting but so far has mostly been focused at the top tier as well. Australian sports coaches are assumed to be pivotal to their athlete's career development, but receive no clear support or guidelines to ensure that they themselves can mature in the industry and sustain their careers -

 (Coach career development: Who is responsible?).

Although this research paper focuses on Australian athletics, its findings highlights the Australian coaching industry in the general sense. It’s significant because of the implications about ASC/Sport Australia’s policy initiatives and approaches, which can be applied to football coaching as well. Its findings on the lack of support, discussions, and considerations for sports industry coaches suggests that Australian football coaches have to rely on their own resources to survive in their careers.

 

Another research paper notes that female coaches face significant disadvantages compared to their male counterparts, leading to them being under-represented in the sports coaching industry. This is especially noticeable at the elite level of sports. Three themes (coach attributes, coaching environment, and coach networks) were identified that might have significant implications on female coaches’ career development. Two themes regarding coaching attributes and networks are especially relevant, and will be expanded upon (The impact of organisational factors on career pathways for female coaches).

Coaching attributes refers to both acquired and innate qualities that are needed by coaches to progress in their careers, particularly if they want to coach professionally in the top tiers. Regarding acquired attributes, coaches are expected to seek accreditation, have a high level communication & empathetic skills, along with relevant knowledge and experience. This finding confirms earlier research on expectations that coaches are to support their own career development. Regarding innate qualities (e.g. motivation, patience, leadership, passion, communication, imagination, observation, positivity, perseverance), coaches either have them or not. Both male and female coaches have high regard on getting the right coaching credentials to be eligible for professional top tier levels of coaching management. However, male coaches consider experience as the key factor for gaining these positions, while female coaches consider accreditation to be a key factor for gaining those positions. The reality is that coaching experience is considered more valuable than accreditation credentials, so female coaches might be discounting themselves for professional top tier positions, even when they have a lot of coaching experience (The impact of organisational factors on career pathways for female coaches).

Coaching networks have a significant impact on coaching career development, especially for female coaches who aspire to reach professional top tier levels of coaching. The research paper found that coaches don’t always require accreditation to gain elite coaching positions as they “come through the network that they’ve already made during their playing time”, and experience was preferred instead. In other words, coaches gain from being in informal and formal networks with other stakeholders to get into desired coaching positions. Female coaches don’t seem to be relying on these networks to their full extent in order to get coaching positions. Part of the reason could be due to existing systemic structures within sports organisations that work against female coaches, and preventing them from tapping into those networks. It’s worth noting that female-only networks have a valuable role to play in providing equity for women in higher management roles. It’s suggested that senior female coaches can help mentor junior female coaches and form their own networks. Moreover, they can forge confidence that’s crucial to succeeding in their coaching careers (The impact of organisational factors on career pathways for female coaches).

This research study was conducted through interviews of several coaches and sports administrators within an unspecified state sport organisation. It provides a useful indication of what potential obstacles female coaches might face in the sporting industry, particularly outside of professional top tier sports settings, even though it’s somewhat challenging to generalise it beyond this context (The impact of organisational factors on career pathways for female coaches).

Hence within the context of these research findings, the question here is how can football coaches stand out and support themselves? Marketing themselves through social media platforms is one key resource for consideration. As social media platforms become more innovative, and expressive in nature, consumers as users become increasingly more open in disclosing their preferences and experiences. In a social media network environment, it creates an ecology where consumers form strong connections with parties, like facebook groups specific to football, where individuals influence each others choices, attitudes, loyalty, views, knowledge, consumption, and postpurchase reviews. Consequently, social media platforms have shifted market power from businesses to consumers, and coaches will need to be responsive to those dynamics. In present times, social media platforms have enabled a new level of consumer-business engagement, with dynamic one-on-one real-time conversations. Portable mobile devices are associated with this increasing facilitation of these engagements and conversations. Hence, football coaches will need to think outside of traditional marketing channels to stay competitive in attracting prospective talents to their sessions, or risk losing out to more innovative coaches who can tap into the market (Relationship Marketing and Social Media in Sport).

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In the football industry coaches are selling their skills & experience as a service, and occasionally their name as a brand. Where coaches are part-time or freelancers this sometimes makes it difficult for them as there are not many popular case studies and examples of how to promote yourself in this manner, especially as many have mostly only had experience in other roles as an employee. Many coaches also come from a non-English speaking background, and many also work in blue collar industries and lack online & digital confidence.

 

Furthermore, we are targeting countries outside Australia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand. As per SBS, Asia should be route into A-League for young Aussie coaches. Australia is a member of the Asian Football Confederation and we believe that the network can be beneficial to all aspiring professional football coaches. Instead of Aussie coaches exploring their way to getting top jobs outside their arena and going through all cultural adjustments, we aim to offer common marketing assistance to each coach in and out of Australia within their location. Taking advantage of the said social network in the football community within an area would be a stepping stone in coming up with a marketing strategy taking into consideration the different aspects affecting the target market for each city or country. 

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PEST Analysis helps determine how external factors will affect the performance and activities of the business in the long-term. The table below summarises the assessment of the 4 main external factors (political, economical, social and technological) to the project and planning process.

Political

Economical

 
  • Government policies & changes in tax legislation surrounding 2nd/part-time, hobby jobs.
  • Government requirements about the need for working with children checks, police checks, public liability & professional indemnity as well as coaching qualifications to work with football players & teams.
  • As cited earlier, the Australian Sports Commission does not generally have clear guidelines or resources to support coaches, in all fields, in developing their careers.
   
  • Recession forcing the need for people to find more part-time, side work to top up their income (Letts & Michael 2019).
 

Social

Technological

 
  • People like to have choices and comparisons these days and choose products and services that have social proof via ratings & reviews. Social attitudes, behaviors, and trends that impact on football coaches and target market. We have seen football coaches, even at the semi-professional level, being the target of vicious campaigns from disgruntled parents, or former players unhappy with selections or disciplinary styles.
    Technologies that can affect the way coaches make, distribute, and market their services.
  • Social Media platforms
  • Video Analysis
  • YouTube
  • Their own websites
 

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Threat of new entrants New entrants into the space of semi-professional coaching normally come in from the following 3 streams - former professional players who have retired and want to start their coaching career (i.e Luke Wilkshire with Wollongong Wolves in the NSW NPL), young coaches who have studied sport at TAFE & University and have had some playing career but wish to pursue coaching as a career (i.e. Arthur Papas now with Yokahama F Marinos in the J-League), middle-aged coaches who have coached at the amateur level as a hobby whilst working and have decided on a career change (Vince Ierardo now with Western United in the A-League). Other new entrants are female coaches moving into coaching the men’s football (Chan 2016).

Threat of substitutes

Coaches can be substituted by new technology such as “On the ball global” or using technology such as AI

 Bargaining power of customers (I.e. Players and talents)

Availability of other coaches as substitute football coaching services. Customer information availability via social media platforms. Because of a potential recession, customers will be more price sensitive towards coaching services. Customers’ perception of coaches’ service value.

 Bargaining power of amateur and semi-professional coaches

Price negotiator/setter. Differentiation of coaching services. Leverage with their prior experiences and accreditation.

Competitive rivalry

Coaches competing with each other for brand awareness through traditional and new forms of marketing channels. Competitive advantage of coaches through accumulation of experiences and accreditation. Coaches with varying levels of marketing budgets.
 

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  Amateur football coaches   Semi Professional Football Coaches   Professional football coaches
  Location Metropolitan & Regional areas. Located (Coach)  close to where they live Mainly metropolitan areas, able to travel 1 hour or so depending on work/family Metropolitan only. Based close to A-League clubs
Flexibility   Amateur coaches are usually volunteer coaches who are willing to coach for free, likely because their child is involved in the sport. Their involvement has the potential to take away from other categories of coaches.   They are the least restricted in terms of coaching flexibility.   Semi-professional coaches often have a variety of different roles to play. Usually, they are contracted to work with a specific club. In other cases, these coaches can be based at a number of locations, with their respective clubs and communities.   They are not restricted to anyone to some degree.   Professional coaches are usually tied to their respective professional clubs.
Networks   Amateur coaches would not have access and networks to resources, and institutional help when coaching their players.   Semi-professional coaches might have some level of access and networks, but their networks are not professional in nature, and hence subjected less network coverage.   Professional coaches have larger access and networks, particularly to professional leagues, and are given jobs for coaching within those networks.
 

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HELPFUL

HARMFUL

    Internal

Strengths

Weaknesses

  Football is the most popular participation sport in Australia with 1.9 million registered players, 1.1 million being in the 6-13 age groups, and only 27,000 registered coaches. Although football is the most popular participation sport numbers wise, it is not the most popular participation sport in terms of social popularity, and as such not as much money flows through the game in comparison to some of the other football codes. This means there are less full-time football coaching roles at clubs, as they do not have the financial capacity to normally fund more than 4-5 full-time coaches across the whole club including female & youth sides.
           External

Opportunities

Threats

  Media platforms to market.   Australians are becoming more health conscious. They are increasingly playing sports to stay fit rather than getting fit to play sports (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 2013).   Alternative sports and lifestyles: There is an emerging trend of lifestyle, adventure and alternative sports which are particularly popular with younger generations. These sports usually involve complex, advanced skills, and have some element of inherent danger and/or thrill seeking. Participants are usually attracted via online social media platforms (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter). There is also strong viewership demand for these types of sports videos on the internet and television (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 2013).
 

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Social media is an incredibly powerful tool with the most popular tool for this demographic, Facebook having 15 million active monthly users in Australia, which means coaches are able to reach a huge audience. They are able to do this by setting up their own page as a coach and building their audience, by running paid ads or by joining Facebook groups specific to football training & coaching or location specific competitions. Coaches need to think carefully before posting content, how this will impact them as a coach and their career, as often too many posts, spamming without adding or engaging in the group creates distrust in the group and the coaching community as a whole. Coaches could post good content that is educational as well as promotional for example if the coach was to run a school holiday program they could write about the program’s benefits and a breakdown of exactly what the camp will cover. When posting about events such as these coaches must consider when they are posting to get the most engagement, so posting around 6-8pm as this is generally when most people are on social media. Even though you may want to promote your event a lot, you should stagger how often you post. If you are posting every day about the same thing then people will start to get annoyed at what they are seeing and may even unfollow you. Depending on the type of content you are posting it may take more or less time to create. If you are just promoting a website link it would be in the best interest of the coach to post this as the website link would already be available and posting about it is just making it accessible to a larger audience. Many times promotional flyers/posters are also created for events like these that can be posted. It’s not terribly hard to create one, so the coach could do it themselves. Even though you do not need a whole lot of software or experience to make a flyer, you still need to understand some basics of marketing so the flyer can be engaging. When creating flyers it may be tempting to fill up all the blank space with large bits of text and many images although this is a case of less is more. Putting key information in dot point form and minimal images.

   

Often towards the end of the season and the start of preseason there will be an influx of advertisements for junior and senior coaches. This is a great way for coaches to find a new coaching role and they can create a football specific resume with their past experience, write their coaching philosophy and talk about their ambitions for the club in a cover letter. Just like with any job, in football it always helps if you know someone at the club you are applying for, so it is important to add referees that they may know. Although not always the case, many coaches will end up coaching at the club that they have played at, this can be for a number of reasons including good networking on behalf of the coach or poor networking on behalf of the club, ease of access and simply loving the club. 

 

An important part of selling  is how will you differentiate yourself from the others. Most likely your qualifications alone will not get you the job, as it is likely that there are many people applying who have the same accreditation. This can be done by going in depth with your philosophy and training style. If you are applying for a smaller club you may get the chance to speak with a committee member, Technical Director or Football Operations Director. Not only is this a great chance to explain your ideology but also you can develop a relationship. People always want to work with people that they get along with, have things in common with and especially in non-professional football the community aspect is put at a higher importance therefore if you are able to make a connection with your club associates you are one step closer to getting the job.

 

There are also platforms dedicated to private coaching, such as Treiner.co. With private coaching services you are trying to attract one player to choose you out of possibly 100’s of other coaches that they may have access to. With Treiner you are able to provide a short bio as well as your, philosophy, session types, coaching and playing experience. This allows the player to make an initial decision if they are interested in pursuing a session with you. The coach must think carefully when  writing his summary as this is the part that the player is most likely to read. The coach must consider what is the most important information to put in that small snapshot and how to draw the player in to keep them reading. 

 

Given the analysis findings, some guidelines can be suggested (Kosaka 2018):

 Promote services

Coaches will need to promote the values their coaching services will bring in order to convince customers to book them.

 Brand awareness

Given that there are many ways to grow a brand, it is necessary to be consistent. This is an important element in maintaining the brand identity. Making sure that there is a good balance between the different channels used for brand awareness is one way to maintain consistency.

 Grow digital presence

The goal for coaches will be to optimise their personal website promotions through social media and search engine optimisation on Google searches within two years. Additionally, gathering online reviews and going beyond blogging through hosting podcasts, online courses, or workshops are great ways to grow digital presence.

Lead generation

Focusing on the target market while considering the consumer interest or demands. Nurture potential clients by being proactive and fully conversant with their needs and preferences.

 Target new customers

Coaches will also have to aim for a higher conversion rate through the ongoing marketing strategies at hand. 

 Retain existing customers

Build a strong client relationship and focus on keeping existing clients not just chasing after new ones with promotions etc

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To sustain themselves, coaches from outside the top tier professional leagues will need to rely on marketing channels to promote themselves for work, as they’re affordable and sustainable resources for their career development. As stated earlier, marketing channels exist in traditional and new forms. In traditional forms, the marketing promotional mix include advertising, personal selling, public relations and publicity, direct marketing, and sales promotion . Arguably, coaches will need to include social media platforms, as new forms of marketing channels, in their promotional mix when formulating and executing their self-marketing strategies. When traditional and new forms of marketing promotional tools are combined, they form to become an integrated marketing communicative toolkit. With this toolkit, coaches should consider social media as a hybrid component in their marketing promotion mix, to amplify their offers of services through word-of-mouth channels

 

(Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix)

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Behavioural

    • The number of Adults 15+ who considered Football/soccer the sport they most strongly associated with (1.2+ million) was slightly higher than the number of current participants. Again, males were more likely than females to be ‘loyal’ to the sport of Football/soccer (the gender difference being even larger for ‘loyalty’ than was observed for participation) (Sports Australia 2019).
    • The main motivations to participate in Football/soccer were ‘Fun/enjoyment’ (57%), ‘Social reasons’ (43%) and ‘Physical health/fitness’ (39%) (Sports Australia 2019).

Demographic

    • A large proportion of Adult 15+ Football/soccer participation was organised (69%), with the majority of organised participation (72%) in sport clubs.
    • AusPlay estimates that 681,194 Children 0-14 participated in organised Football/soccer out-of-school. Boys accounted for 78% of all Children’s Football/soccer participation.
    • The peak participation rate for organised Football/soccer was among Children 9-11. Participation started to decline slightly earlier for boys (after 14 years of age) than girls (after 17).
    • Both Adult and Children’s participation in Football/soccer was highest in major cities compared to regional or remote areas. Football/soccer also appealed to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities.
    • (Sports Australia 2019).

Parents as decision Makers for young children

    • Parents have significant influence in deciding what sports their children will participate in. Clearinghouse for Sport highlighted that the segmentation across the Australian population of parents with children aged 5-17 resulted in eight segments based on differences in parents’ participation, attitudes and behaviour towards sport and organised sport or physical activity for them and their children: 15% Sport-focused, 16% sport actives, 15% self-sport focused, 13% child-focused, 11% family-focused, 22% sport-uninvolved, 4% club resistant, and 3% unengaged. 
    • Sport-focused, sporty actives, and child-focused parents are significantly more likely to be motivated by access to good coaching/training.
    • The ‘Family focused’ segment, whose priorities are activities that fit in with family time, show potential for acquisition via flexible, family friendly offers and clear information about what commitment is required.
    •  ‘Sport uninvolved’ and ‘Unengaged’ parent segments are motivated by significantly fewer factors overall and acquisition is less likely than other segments.

Clubs, schools, academies and teams

    • Football clubs or academies are great marketplaces for getting potential clients. Being connected to one of a few is one way to maximise a coach’s network.
    • Clearinghouse highlighted that a club’s primary focus should be on the retention of the existing club members (Social Loyalists and Sport Driven) by keeping them engaged.
    • As for the non-club members (Thrifty Enthusiasts and Ponderers), it is imperative to apply any acquisition strategy for these  are most likely to consider sport club membership.

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Customer base

    • Youth soccer participants
Research shows that  football is the second out of the top 20 organised out-of-school physical activities for all Australian children in 2017: 6.6% 0-4 years old, 26.6% 5-8 years old, 29.8% 9-11 years old, and 27.4% 12-14 years old. 

Competition

    • Football club / association
Research shows that parents are more likely willing to spend on sports club or association (45%) than individual personal trainers (3%). 
    • Video analytics platforms 
According to Profitable Venture, report has it that the global sports coaching platform market has a highly fragmented market structure due to the presence of a strong mix of regional, local, and well-established international vendors in the market.

Services

Often coaches will offer a range of services and combine their coaching with a related professional career in sports and sports medicine/allied health to be able to offer more services such as:
    • 1-on-1 training sessions
    • Small Group training sessions
    • Team Training sessions
    • Futsal training sessions
    • Goalkeeper training session
    • Training Video Analysis
    • Strength & Conditioning sessions
    • Football Conditioning sessions
    • Striker Training sessions
    • Position Specific training sessions
    • Sports Science services
    • Sports Psychology services
    • Football Nutritionist services
    • Football Dietician services
    • Podiatrist services
    • Chiropractor services
    • Exercise Physiologist services
    • Sports Doctor services
    • Physiotherapist services
    • Massage Therapist services

 Demographics

      • Ages: 9 to 14 age group (mother / parent 30-45 years old)
While the child participation rate peaks in the 9 to 11 age group before declining slightly in the 12 to 14 age group, the average participation frequency rises with age.  75% of children who have at least one active parent participate in organised physical activity outside of school compared to just 56% of children with at least one inactive parent. (AusPlay)
    • Location: Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia
    • Income level: Middle to high
AusPlay confirms that 58% of children from low income families participate in organised physical activity outside of school compared to 73% of children from middle income families and 84% of children from high income families.
    • Background: Place of residence
58% of children from remote areas participate in organised physical activity outside of school, compared to 69% of children in regional areas and 76% of children living in major cities of Australia

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With regards to market positioning, coaches can rely on some of the following general guidelines (Corporate Financial Institute 2017):
  1. Coaching service attributes and benefits: Associating your brand/product with certain characteristics or with certain beneficial value.
  2. Coaching service price: Associating your brand/product with competitive pricing.
  3. Coaching service quality: Associating your brand/product with high quality.
  4. Coaching service application: Associating your brand/product with a specific use.
  1. Competitors: Making consumers think that your brand and service is better than your competitors.

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Social media marketing efforts are developed in the context of the 4c’s. That is connections, creation, consumption, and control which underscore consumer motives to engage with organisations, and also coaches, which then leads to higher returns-on-investment (ROI), based on their marketing campaigns’ investments. This is because organisations can better leverage the “active investments” of their consumers. “Active investments” referred here can be in the form of Facebook comments, Gumtree review, LinkedIn endorsements, membership registrations, and active accounts that serve consumers to become part of a brand-related community. With the availability of social media platforms, coaches can set up and determine the kind of engagements they can maintain to suit their self-promotional needs (Can You Measure the ROI of Your Social Media Marketing?)

 

Product/Service

Place

In relation to creation and connections, coaches would need to create values in their services, so that customers will reach out to establish a connection. For example, by providing video analysis, the coach could edit it to empower the players with greater tactical knowledge and enable them to commit to their sessions. In relation to control, connection, and consumption, given that coaches would need to be selective in advertisement placement due to resource constraints, they would need to rely on social media platforms to run targeted advertisements on… Facebook... sports institutes….   Google search engine.

Price

Promotion

  In relation to creation, consumption, and control, coaches would need to consider all factors that would be worth the price of their valued services including the amount parents are willing to spend on football sessions for private trainings.   Value-based pricing: Reinforce value provided by their personal brand of the coach, and reinforce the market positioning while attracting new customers (E.g. Penetration pricing, but for initial market entry only).   Relationship-oriented pricing: Set prices in order to maintain existing customers (E.g. Promotions, discounts, loyalty rates).       In relation to control, consumption, and connection, digital marketing should be monitored close through:
  1. Call to action
  2. Landing pages
  3. Traffic
  4. Lead generation
  5. Promote value
  6. Personal websites
  7. Search engine optimisation
  1. Online partnerships

One of the many challenges that soccer coaches face is promoting themselves through the right channels in order to provide their coaching services. This challenge is particularly prevalent among lower-tier: local and community level coaches who don’t get the required support from professional coaching associations and neither have access to elite players which professional coaches generally do.

 

Many coaches outside the top tier of professional football have limited time to invest in promotion but this is a necessary activity for them to undertake. Listed below are some of the top platforms/tools that coaches outside of the top tier of professional football use to market their services:

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Coaches can record their team tactical training sessions, as well as sessions with individual players or small groups focusing on technique or skills. Coaches can also use YouTube to provide tactical Analysis on European, A-League and National Premier league games and by doing this video analysis be able to promote themselves and their expertise to a wider audience.  

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Examples of coaches who have started off as semi-professional coaches and used their analysis of games & matches on websites such as ftbl.com.au, leopoldmethod.com.au, mfootball.com.au etc are Kate Cohen & Doug Kors who have both worked with Sydney FC & now the Socceroos .

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Gumtree is one of the most popular tools coaches use to market their services. A quick search of ‘Private Soccer Coach’ in Melbourne generates around 25 advertisements for private coaching services alone. Expanding the search radius to 500km results in close to double the amount of private coaching advertisements. New South Wales is the next popular state for private coaching advertisements with roughly 15-20 advertisements. The number of advertisements for the other states in Australia drops significantly due potentially to less coaches in these areas. Gumtree is so successful for coaches who advertise on the platform due to how easy the platform is to use and the strong public appeal that it generates. The downside of Gumtree for coaches is that they need to respond to messages themselves, and they often get spam, abusive posts, and time-wasting messages.

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Facebook is perhaps the most well known platform and for that reason is also one of the most popular. Coaches on this platform have the option to promote via player or coaching groups or individually promote on their own page, while also relying on support from platforms such as Treiner to promote. The private nature of Facebook makes it difficult to understand how many coaches use Facebook to promote their services however, conversations with coaches indicate Facebook is a popular platform for promotion. Promotion of coaching services is at its strongest during the summer months as this is the offseason and some coaches who rely on their clubs for promotion have to seek out players who are interested in private training during the offseason.  One of the disadvantages of promotion on Facebook is that is requires the coach to have a Facebook Account and the information the coach receives on Facebook is often not in its control so it has to filter through what is necessary.

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Superprof is a platform where tutors create profiles and promote their services to students. Superprof currently has at least a dozen coaches offering private coaching lessons to athletes of different skill levels. Superprof has some similarities to Treiner and is a fairly successful platform for promotion however, is limited in the amount of coaching advertisements outside of Victoria.

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For more established coaches creating a personal website is an effective form of promotion. Personal websites are becoming more popular for coaches to use because they are able to stand out and their profiles are not cluttered amongst others. Personal websites have varying level of success and depend on how active the coach is in promotion. A great example of a successful personal website is Kick Start Soccer. Kick Start Soccer offers a range of coaching services on a well designed website with ease of access to book services. KSS is able to offer discounts and free sessions and partner with many different clubs around the area to make the most out of their coaching services. Kick Start Soccer proves that personal websites can be effective for dedicated coaches, however, casual coaches would benefit from social media platforms and networking. 

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Networking through websites such as LinkedIn is also effective for many coaches. Coaches can build connections with clubs and athletes to promote the coaching services that they offer. Coaches can also network face-to-face and through different networking events. For some coaches that coach teams at clubs they have the resource of being able to directly talk to players and they rely on players and parents talking to them if they are interested in private coaching. Many coaches are not actively networking but are benefited from years of coaching and building a strong reputation with a number of different players. Networking is most successful coaches who are at clubs and have access to a large group of players.

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Many coaches also receive promotion from being part of coaching providers such as the Melbourne Sport Institute. The Melbourne Sports Institute have a dedicated section of their website for coaching services to be offered to athletes. The coaches themselves are not promoted on the website but the services are. These types of large coaching providers service predominantly the school sector and exist all throughout Australia.

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A very important aspect for most professional soccer coaches is to get the word out and market themselves to a wider audience. In Australia, the community plays a vital role in the development of soccer and spurs participation within the sport. According to FFA (2019), there are around 1.8 million Australians participating in soccer as per a recent census conducted. There has been a significant increase across all areas of the sport including Futsal, school participation along with a steady rise in the number of female participants. It goes to show that the soccer coaching market is quite attractive and lucrative for many up and coming licensed coaches who are breaking into the industry. Within a high school and club environment, the sports coach is a key player who create social conditions for positive youth development and aim to promote participation within the community.  These coaches promote themselves individually through word of mouth within the club or school to parents who visit during games and matches. They hand out flyers or share their business card to prospective customers and try to get more business outside of their regular working hours (most extensively over the weekends).

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There are also websites such as Technical Soccer Tuition that provide private coaching services to athletes. Coaches sign up to the service and athletes can choose which coach they want closest to where they live. TST is a successful service as all private coaches are currently booked up, with TST suggesting alternative services such as small group coaching. TST continues to update the coaches profiles to ensure that the service continues to be successful. Semi professional coaches have external coaches coming in from overseas. External coaches from senior training partners due to visa opportunities. But they struggle to get networks and go about. Lower salary compared to country of origin.

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  A coach must undertake relationship marketing and can use this method to build relationships that can enhance loyalty and trust in their brand. However coaches are often not confident or comfortable promoting themselves, especially if a former player as this behaviour is discouraged in a team environment. The coaches that do well must build their profile with local media, learn media & public speaking skills. They should create a solid online persona that is consistent with their branding as a coach, including a clear philosophy across all media.    Coaches will also need to engage more with players (and parents of players under 18) in one on one situations. This is sometimes a challenge for a coach coming from a team environment where 1on1 discussions are discouraged. A clear focus on delivering quality sessions and good customer service will make the coach stand out from a lot of other competitors more focused on short term or financial goals.    Consumers, or in this article’s case players, become long-term advocates for the organisation. Other positive implications for embarking in relationship marketing include, but not limited to, enhanced consumer relationships and increased satisfaction, all of which increases value for organisations, and coaches (Meeting Relationship-Marketing Goals Through Social Media: A Conceptual Model for Sport Marketers)  
Objective Action/Activity Target dates Status
Create an account on Treiner.co and establish yourself as a valuable resource. Complete your profile on Treiner highlighting your best attributes as a coach. Engage with potential clients by giving them 5-15 minutes of your time to answer questions. January TBC
Create more training session content and share your session plans. Update your availability on your calendar timely and upgrade your offered training sessions on the website. Create blogs about your session plans and share them on your profile, via email or social media networks. April TBC
Use video to attract clients Create and share your training session videos or podcasts, webinars, etc. July TBC
Network with other coaches or soccer clubs Connect with other coaches or join a local networking group to expose yourself further. You can help each other by referring each other to potential clients considering the client’s specific demands or needs. October TBC
Maintain brand awareness and convey it Know your brand by heart and let people see it. Keep up with your digital marketing strategies. January TBC
Nurture your contacts consistently Generate more leads and nurture them with your ongoing and upcoming marketing campaigns. April TBC
Spend time where your potential clients are Consistently engage with potential clients and continue educating them with their advantages and benefits from your services. July TBC
Maintain long term client relationships and use their insights on your services to promote your services Let your existing clients give you their feedback and apply necessary actions to make yourself better at what you do. Make it clear to your clients that you offer dynamic services and you are flexible when it comes to your profession. October TBC
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Transitioning to a full-time coach is no easy task. You have to gain enough experience and qualifications to be taken seriously and then stand out by giving out unique selling proposition, learn authentic sales, marketing & customer  strategies, networking skills, social proof, and more.

 

In conclusion, Australian football coaches outside of top tier professional leagues will need to stress the same marketing strategies to promote themselves same as the professional football league trainers. There may be variations on the scope of network and other minor aspects such as time allotment, quality, and compensation but the promotional techniques are almost similar. Coaches are required to keep in mind that dedication to their chosen career weighs the same and is very evident when being applied. When delivering services, coaches must maintain the highest level of quality football training. It is also their responsibility to keep track of their branding status for social marketing. Self-awareness should also be observed at all times. Building ones career through developing his/her skills and acquiring new and modern techniques may come in handy. Focusing on the client’s needs and wants is one of the most essential factors in keeping a higher retention and conversion rate.

   

 

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