Ian Forrester is the CMO of STATSports and Ryan Clarke is the company’s Head of eCommerce. STATSports provides the most powerful football GPS player tracker for individuals. Real-time performance data and not just players wearing sports bras.
Episode 10 Season 2
Listen // Watch // Download
In this episode, we discuss:
- What does the STATSport product do and how it came to life
- Building a world leading business from Newry, Northern Ireland
- Marketing a ‘sexy’ product and why it’s not as easy as you think
- What role does marketing play in the pro (B2B) side of the house
- Can you build a DTC and B2B offering at the same time
- What it’s like operating in a market that Google and Amazon are eyeing up
- How digital marketing drives online sales
- Role of big events like Christmas in consumer sales
- What jobs are available at STATSports
STATSports provide an unparalleled, all-encompassing sports science and performance analysis service within the elite sporting industry. STATSports has advanced the application of sports science within the high profile sporting organisations of our growing client list which includes: Juventus, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, the Carolina Panthers and the New York Knicks.
Ian is responsible for the Marketing and Consumer Sales. Working for STATSports since 2018, before that he was Head of International Marketing at JD Sports Fashion PLC, growing the FTSE 100 UK based business across Europe and Asia Pacific. Ian oversaw the introduction of the JD brand into 15 different countries. At STATSports Ian has developed a robust Marketing plan utilising some of the biggest sports stars on the planet that is supported by a strong e-commerce team and field sales in Europe and USA. Ian’s strong retail background has also been instrumental in securing deals with retailers such as soccer.com, pro direct soccer, JD Sports and Sports Direct. Ian graduated from University of Northumbria with a BA (Hons) in Marketing.
Ian on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-forrester-4836b217b/
Ryan is the Head of Ecommerce at the world’s leading on-field performance monitoring and analysis company – STATSports, who now sell products in both DTC and B2B markets. He is responsible for the growth of STATSports users through customer acquisition online. Day to day this means optimisation of every digital interaction with customers pre and post transaction. From campaign creation to checkout.
Prior to working in the sporting industry, Ryan specialised in international marketing strategy. Including roles with REX Architecture in New York, and Queen’s University delivering digital campaigns in South East Asia & China.
Ryan on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-clarke-8a64249a/
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Traction by Gino Wickman
How to Be a Footballer by Peter Crouch
You Guys Are History! by Devon Malcolm
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Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.
This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
Eyup and welcome to the Strategy Sessions.
My name is Andi Jarvis.
I am the host of the show and I’m the strategy director at Eximo Marketing.
Today I’m joined by Ian Forrester
and Ryan Clarke, the CMO and head of Ecommerce for STATSports.
They’re a B to B company that tracks
performance data for professional athletes.
And they also have a direct to consumer element where they sell the same tracking
software to consumers and you can track your performance against the pros.
It’s a hell of a business based here in Northern Ireland in Newry and selling
across the world with market leading software.
You don’t need me to tell you about it. Why?
Because Ian and Ryan are going to do a much better job than that.
And here we go. So let’s get straight on with the episode.
I’m welcomed by Ian and Ryan from STATSports.
How are you doing chaps?
Good, very good. Excellent stuff.
So first of all, let’s get in.
What is STATSports and what do you do?
I think most people who might know
anything about the product will remember the Euros Ukrainian fella takes his shirt off,
runs around wearing a sports bra that’s you guys, isn’t it?
But there’s a little bit more to it than that, unfortunately.
So in a nutshell, we are a performance analysis company.
So what we do is we have a pot that sits in the back of that vest that records lots
of physical data, 5 million points for every night in games, football.
And then that is then produced through various devices like iPad,
phones Andi desktop to sort of give software analysis on it and data analysis.
So we’re essentially providing human physical data to at least sports teams
Andi beyond, just don’t know what their players are doing, et cetera.
So as someone whose undergraduate degree was in Spell, it was supposed to be
in sports science, but I pitched that bit because I struggled with the science.
But I went into the management and marketing element.
But the one thing I learned back in 1998,
other than the fact TVs were still black and white back then,
was that elite sport and the science and the data behind that wasn’t elite,
it was in the dark age, it’s affected it, wasn’t it?
And you are kind of one of the companies
that are bringing it into the future, into the modern world Andi beyond, right?
5 million data points in 90 minutes.
Yeah, I think. Yeah, absolutely.
We were founded in 2008 at the time,
and it’s like our first three clients were Lens to Rugby, Arsenal and United.
So not a bad thing to sort of get going with.
But it was the likes of Ferguson was just
almost blown away by the fact that you could almost recall this data and then
what it does before then, it was all about as a coach, I know best.
It was all about I know my players more than anybody else.
Well, these players now are F one cards.
They are highly tuned athletes, simple as that.
So what works for one won’t work for another.
So basically everyone’s got their own data sets.
Everyone knows when they’re hitting their maximum levels.
Everyone knows when they’re at risk of fatigue and injury.
We just provide the data, just the data
in terms of what it looks like for the performance team to then use.
I remember one of the things that kind of blew my mind at the time.
There was a Premier League football team had a higher injury rate than any other
Premier League football team, and they changed their head of fitness
and conditioning and the injury rate plummeted.
And we were studying this at Uni as to why
it was, and we were trying to come up with ideas and thoughts as to what
the reason was that this guy managed to change their injury rate.
And what it was was he worked in football before.
We’ve come up with all sorts of theories and concepts and this and the other.
And it was as simple as the previous head
of fitness had come from working in Olympic sports.
Olympians have to peak for two
or two day period, and then they often crash.
And if you watch Olympic performances
within a couple of weeks of the Olympics, they’re often terrible compared to where
they were before because they peaked and they’re off the test that wave.
And the Head of Sport and Performance have brought that thinking to professional
football, trying to get athletes at 99, 100% all the time,
and they were just breaking and it was just like, oh, that’s so obvious.
But that was elite professional football,
the richest game in the world in our country at the time.
Is that as good as it got at the time?
So you’re revolutionizing how this works, basically, yeah, absolutely.
But to your point there, it’s having the staff to be able
to interpret that data and make an actionable really as well.
So not to sort of throw facts out there, but I think it was Wolves about two or
three years ago, whereby they use like 17 outfield players through the season.
Well, that’s remarkable in terms of how many times you play football.
But that was then really using the technology Andi understanding it.
When is my player at risk of injury?
When do you optimize it in his performance?
But then again,
other things around that as well is that we know when you get Premier League
stars Andi then go away to international duty and then their international coaches
they know best is sometimes upset the Apple cart as well.
That’s why you always want to see Premier League doctors and staff travel
with their top assets, because they’re the ones who have to pick
up the pieces after the international breaks.
So, no, it’s an ever changing world, but it’s more reliant on data and there’s
more of it and it’s knowing what to do with it.
Like I said, 5 million data points.
Again, that’s fantastic.
I don’t expect someone sat there going to be 5 million data points recording
on an Excel spreadsheet, but it’s sort of been able to sort
of create what’s best for that player in that team.
I think the dependency of the game as well is changing.
If you look at, like, the leads, they play like a high tempo,
high press kind of game, the dependency on the player and what
they’re expected to kind of play, that kind of strategy is completely different.
So the requirements of the individual
player physically has transformed over the years since 19.
So this type of technology makes up so much more transparent.
Make it work.
So tell us, what’s the background to the company?
Two different accents on the call.
So Where’s the headquarters and how did the company come into being?
You said it was from 20 08.
20 08, yes.
So our fearless leaders and co founders, Alan Clarke and Sean O’Connor.
So the story goes, basically they stood watching Dundalk FC
and they said, Would it be good if we could track players?
One of the engineering background, one of the sports science background,
and it kind of just came together from there, really.
So at the time, that was 2008, the first client, it was Lens.
They won the European Cup in 2009.
So everyone kind of went, what’s that little bump on the back?
What are they doing that we are.
And then they manage to get into a small
club called Man United and another small club called Arsenal.
So after that, they kind of for the next
ten years because they were ahead of the game.
But also there are other brands out there who imitate us, but we were basically our
technology was the best, the most reliable, the most accurate,
beef approved and tested Goldmark standards and all that.
We organically just kind of grew
from there to what it is today in the elite space, which is about,
I think it’s just touching nearly 800 clubs across 50 countries.
So it tells you kind of where we’ve got to, and that fundamentally it’s
the product shit, if I’m being brutally honest with you.
So you’re kind of quite ballsy with it, but we continue to develop.
You have to evolve with it, of course you do.
Otherwise you get caught up and then we keep doing that.
So from a marketing point of view, and I know you’re both hands
on in the marketing world, one of the accusations that’s always
leveled at market is when you’re working with a shit hop product that’s used by,
manufactured by Arsenal, that’s used by Ukraine and international
teams and Lenstas. Andi it’s like, oh, marketing is easy then, isn’t it?
The reason I don’t have any hair is that people throw that accusation at you
all the time when it’s shit Andi it’s not working.
It’s your fault when everything’s flying.
It’s like you’ve got an easy job.
You haven’t yet.
Yeah, I hear that. I absolutely hear that.
I think like I said, if you break down our model into two sort of business models,
the B to B space, which is our elite teams, basically,
you could argue the first ten years, the marketing side of it was very much
organic because the product was the best and they’re going into a new industry.
What we’ve got now since 2019, going into the BTC space with bias is
basically we’ve now got the technology that anybody can use.
But it’s hard because in terms of number
one, you’ve got a new brand, number one, you’ve got a new product category.
So we’re trying to say this is what it is,
this is what it does, and this is why you need it.
So that kind of process,
in terms of telling people what you need to be doing and why you need it,
it’s a bit of a slog coupled with that, Ryan will tell you from digital world as
well, the attention span of people now is next to nothing.
Well, in old money, when you’re doing B to B,
you’re allowed a 30 minutes presentation and everyone goes, yeah, I get it.
Whereas now you’ve got what, 12 seconds to kind of go, this is who we are.
This is what it does. This way you need it.
Oh, there’s Hurricane.
it’s a real journey that we’re on.
But we know that people are now getting it.
People are understanding it.
Yes, it’s certainly flash moments like Ukraine and build things around them.
I call them kind of energy moments
in terms of what they are strike while the eye is hot.
But, yeah, we’ve still got a long way
to go in terms of letting everybody know what it is.
So it isn’t just this block sports bra, which we still get, which we have to take
a good salt and say at least it’s something.
But it’s much more than that.
So, yes, it’s hard, but it’s brilliant.
At the same time, it’s football.
It’s the best players in the world.
You cannot love it.
Ryan, you’re a rugby player as well,
aren’t you? Andi know, from my own experience.
Unofficially retired, I think.
Listen, mate, don’t ever retire.
I’ve retired three times and keep coming back.
Andi I’m 42 now and I won’t officially retire again.
But there’s certainly a lot of my ex
colleagues who probably need a sports bra when you think of your average
performance vest, sorry, performance vest.
So as a sportsman yourself running
the digital marketing element of the company, are you living the dream?
Andi then how does that boil down
to actually, but you’ve still got a bloody hard job to get into.
Yeah, I think I’ve always in the past,
kind of almost like bragged about the fact that I’ve worked in different companies
in different sectors, and thought, oh, it’s this product X,
and you apply the same kind of methodology and the same approaches and you can do it.
You can pretty much sell anything.
Whereas when I came into staff sports
and you’re working in an arena where I’m playing the sport,
I’m engaging with analysis and sport Andi even the extent I was doing GPS analysis
for team previously, you actually realize that you can work
in sport Andi doing digital marketing Andi ecommerce.
It’s just like an added ten to 15%.
It just gives you that extra context
for if you’re going into like a messaging messaging matrix and you’re trying
to understand the motivations of someone, it just gives you that extra burst.
So for me, it’s kind of living the dream and it’s kind of like, honey,
that niche or that understanding, extra understanding you have that it would
take you a lot longer to deep dive into for coming fresh in an industry.
So, yeah, it helps massively with the learning
curve, but it doesn’t help necessarily with the nuance of scale in a brand.
That’s like a next level thing where you’re trying to go, right?
This is my experience as a guy from Northern Ireland.
He’s playing rugby. But how does that relate to a 16 year old
that playing on the West Coast of America playing soccer, for example?
It’s completely different persona and completely different motivations.
So, yes, it helps with the learning curve, but it only takes you so far.
my first proper marketing job was at Durham County Cricket Club.
So working in professional cricket, we had England games, we had concerts,
Andi there were times when you felt like the luckiest person in the world.
But then there’s other times where you
realize you’ve got a spreadsheet to get ready for the board presentation.
And at some point they’re just numbers on a bit of paper, right.
It doesn’t matter what’s going on around it.
You’ve just got to get that ball presentation, right?
Because your budget next year depends on it.
And that’s where you got to have that sort
of professional integrity to keep pushing it through.
I think you can follow the textbooks of their assumptions as well from your own
experience so far, coming like armor rugby player.
I’ve used this technology before.
This is what I think it can take all
the objectivity out of any data analysis you’re doing.
Just like I think this and therefore the result of that were
being a lot more sort of, I don’t know if you’re more of an insecure
marketer in terms of you’re not sort of using your own ego or your own
experience per se to dictate what your messaging is going to be.
Then it makes it a lot easier going into that my favorite line as a consultant.
When I move into working with a new
business, people say, I think I’m like, I don’t care what you think.
I really don’t.
I just don’t care what you think, it’s not important to the discussion.
So you’re right about that.
Being able to check your ego out and actually say this is what is happening
and here’s what we can prove I think is really different.
And that’s when I always think you see
a good marketer when they go it’s not about what I think,
it’s here’s what we can prove or here’s what we’re testing and things like that.
So how did you get into working at stuff,
but what was the career path for you, Ryan, to get there into the digital role?
And then, Ian, I’ll come to you with the same question.
I went to Queen’s University here and then
straight after I graduated, I went to work in an architecture firm
in Brooklyn doing a marketing role there, which was I’m not going to send anyone
that’s the most hipster office I’ve ever been in my entire life.
That’s why I got tattooed on the back of that one job.
I remember one day walking in with a Starbucks Cup Andi
as if I just murdered someone.
It’s true, honestly.
Worst person in history walking anywhere with the Starbucks.
Yeah, true. I learned the hard way there.
But yeah, I worked there as a marketing kind of coordinator role,
came home, worked for Coins in a digital role Andi focusing on sort
of Southeast Asia market Andi India and China Andi doing campaigns there
Andi then work for Barclay Group Andi kind of a staff kind of company and then just
the opportunity to come up for staff sports.
And when you see tech and you see sport to combine together,
it’s kind of something you want to get your teeth into straight away.
And just luckily managed to get me
a couple of first round interviews and made a Mark as the digital marketing
executive originally starting off in stock sports.
It also helped that Barclay I thought was Barclays the bank.
the major decision making sort of proud west of Barclays.
I’m going like you’re only a young lady
in terms of anyway, it’s not biased because it’s sparkly.
Oh yeah, causes it helps.
Anyway, by that time the ink was dry on the contract.
Everything happens for a reason.
I say absolutely.
What about you, Ian?
We haven’t actually said what your role is at that spot.
So tell us that and then talk us through
sort of dancers through your CV that got you there.
So, chief Marketing Officer at STATSports.
Obviously looking at the whole marketing set, but also much more commercially
minded as well in terms of reached the markets and sales channels.
Obviously Ecommerce is a massive one
of that, but we look at like third party retailers, direct sales, etc.
Just again just growing those sales channels and roofs to market.
Basically how I ended up here in Belfast,
I spent 15 years in sports retail from a sort of marketing assistant level route.
So an international head of marketing at JD Sports.
My international role, I was around the world wherever I needed to be.
I think we opened in 15 countries in two years.
Two years I was in that role,
but a bit like probably yourself, by the sounds of it.
I met a girl from Belfast to Manchester
nightclub at 02:00 A.m. And then two kids later, she decided to move on.
So that was that really.
But no, that’s their thought.
I mean, when we first moved over, I was still doing the overall and keeping
an eye on things, thinking what’s in Northern Ireland for me?
And then I’ve been tracking Start Sports anyway.
But in terms of sport related, massively growing company,
international presence, it ticks the same boxes as my previous employer.
So an honor to sort of be part of it, an honor to be part of what we’re doing.
In terms of the accelerated journey that we’re on.
I think I’m going to jump in and bang
the drum a little bit for Northern Ireland at this stage.
I’ve been nearly twelve years, as you can tell,
because I picked the accent of how long I’ve been in Northern Ireland.
Andi there is someone who listens
to the podcast, who emailed me, knows that podcasting from Northern Ireland.
It was like, you’ve got such a lovely Irish accent, like this is awesome.
Anyway, if you’re listening, it’s not
Andi think when I first moved over, I felt this absolute fear of feeling, of dread.
I’d worked at Durham County Cricket Club
and Newcastle College, got a job at UTV, and then started looking around the rest
of the market thinking, where do I go next?
And the answer was nowhere, right.
It felt like there was nothing to do Andi nowhere to go.
Over the last decade,
there’s a lot going on in Belfast and a lot of change happened there.
There’s some huge companies coming,
there’s some interesting jobs, there’s some bigger companies.
We still I think we don’t have the big
ecommerce retailers like the JD Sports or the headquarters of those sorts of places.
But there’s a lot more happening in the local market, isn’t there?
Andi that’s exciting for people living here and for the area in general.
I think so, yeah.
I was a bit like yourself in terms of when I made this move.
I was like, this is the one job I can do in Northern Ireland.
I better stick this out.
But the more you speak to people, the more you meet people,
the more you’re around it, you’re kind of thinking the opportunity here is endless.
And it really is.
Is it in sports? Probably not.
But at the same time, the other areas that are really sort of thriving.
So what I’ve been working on now, just over three and a half years.
Three years. It’s in terms of you’re much more
confident that there’s laws more out there for you like yourself when moving over
you’re moving over thinking, what am I doing here?
But at the same time for us, it’s gone in the right direction.
Do you feel the same way?
Yeah, I think the best example of that, I think, is when you see a company that’s
not just described as like, oh, they’re a Northern Ireland success story
or it’s there from our country and it’s like, oh, that’s Northern Ireland.
We see companies like I like to think dashboards.
You see like the black box
on an international stage that are these are big companies and then people might
realize secondary that they’re actually like HQ is here.
So I think that’s the best example
of like, we’re not just insular like a small thing Andi successful for here.
It’s successful globally.
You see more and more of these companies.
But also the level of talent here shouldn’t be undermined as well as just
moved about 150 jobs over here as well from Microsoft software development piece.
So there’s something happening here
that’s obviously a benefit to those large companies Andi yeah.
Don’T blame them, definitely.
Andi just to pick up a point on your point and I’m only going to say this Andi move
on because the whole good for we Northern Ireland boils my piss.
That mentality drives me.
New Zealand’s got 4 million people
and he’s a world leader in cricket and two forms of rugby Andi various other things.
Don’t tell me that having a small
population means we should just be happy with turning up at an event.
It’s like, no, come to win,
don’t just turn up to be part of it and go, Isn’t it nice we did this?
So that annoys the hell out of me.
Anyway, last thing on recruitment and then
we’ll get back to talking about the business.
Are you still recruiting at the minute
you’ve got a head of marketing role available?
Is that still live? At the moment, yes.
It is a number of roles, to be honest with you.
I think we’re recruiting about between 15
and 20 at the moment ahead of marketing role.
That’s more from working alongside Ryan,
really in terms of campaign delivery and the kind of popular media requirements
from there as well, because I’m sort of jumping
into the commercial side more Andi more just trying to drive those sales.
So that’s a huge opportunity.
And there’s loads throughout the company as well.
At the moment. I’m sure everyone’s the same.
We’ve grown that much as remote workers.
The moment we may go back into the office, we’re going to need desks or book beds.
That’s how much we’ve grown during the last twelve to 24 months.
We’ll put a link in the show notes to the jobs.
I think the head of marketing role has been open for a little bit.
So that does interest you getting quick
because it’ll probably be closing if you don’t listen to this fairly quickly.
Anyway, moving on from there as well,
same as a recruitment consultant, I think 25% of year one salary.
So please quote strategy sessions.
It’s a verbal contract, lads, you’ve already signed.
So let’s talk B to B.
First of all, in terms of what’s the growth plans are
you looking to more football teams, new sports are you getting out of?
You seem to have a bit of a speciality
in football at the minute, but you’re obviously in rugby as well.
What’s the growth plan for that B to B side of the business?
It’s basically any elite sports team
around the world, essentially, I suppose what we’ve managed to do over
the last probably five years as well, the technology, when it first came in,
it was the best of the best, which is why the top teams in the world use it.
So whilst we’ve got the majority of the Premier League, we’ve got what is it?
The top four rugby nations at the moment are all ours.
We’ve just signed the New York Yankees.
We just got three NFL teams, which is all fantastic.
There’s obviously a huge gap in between
that in terms of still elite sports persons.
So what we then brought out is more technologies,
be able to provide what they need,
whether it’s the level of detail or the price point we’re now going after.
If you release sports team, we’re basically going to be as simple as that.
We specialize in outdoor sports because of the GPS functionality on it.
So that’s what we’re going after.
There’s obviously going to be a
finite number of teams that there are, but at the same time,
there’s still a lot to go up because take football, for example.
Yeah, the Premier League,
get it Championship, get it League one, League two, maybe getting it.
Take that around the world and everyone’s in the same boat.
Do you know what I mean?
It’s taking that time to filter down.
So the opportunities in that space is still going even down to have
a conversation with some lacrosse organization over the US.
Well, straight away, yeah, of course.
It’s an opportunity.
Lacrosse is a different legal over there compared to here.
It just seems to be a couple of posh kids
at University running around goes over there.
It’s a major event.
So just touching on the USA, you’ve got
Paul McAfee leading the and I laugh when I say his name.
I went to Uni with Paul.
I haven’t seen him since 2000 Andi one so I can’t pretend that we’re best mates.
So, Hello, Paul, if you’re listening.
But you’ve got an office in the US leading the US expansion.
I presume that’s just based on the size of the market over there is infinitely
bigger than the size of the market in most of the places.
Yeah, well, President Paul, as we call him now, because he’s President of America.
So that’s where.
He wanted you to call him.
President no officially changed his name.
We’ve got offices over in Chicago.
And again, it’s just taking the opportunity that’s there.
If you take the NWSL, we’ve got a lead wide deal.
I think we’ve got 16 of the MLS teams, NFL.
We’ve got three teams.
We just picked up the Major League Baseball accreditation system last year.
So we’ve got three MLB teams.
And then below all that, you’ve then got the NCAA set up, which is a monster.
It’s an absolute monster.
And the more you dig into it and the more you read about it,
it is a beast.
Take Ryan sent me a podcast on the NFL last week in terms of what’s the NFL was
11 billion compared to the Premier League’s, 5 billion.
Now the Premier League is pretty big.
So for the NFL to be more than twice the size of the Premier League,
which tells you the sort of scale that we’re going after.
I’m just looking for it here to see if I can find it.
But when you get into talking about the size of College sports
in America, I think maybe most people listen, have an understanding of it.
But College sport in America is
at a different level to anything you’ve experienced.
What I’m looking for here is the biggest sports stadiums in the world,
because something like four of the top ten belong to College teams, don’t they?
I think you need to talk about all the Michigan State one.
Yeah, Michigan, yes.
I just found India opened a new cricket Stadium in Metabolism named after
the President the other year, last year, in fact.
So that’s the biggest now 132,000.
There’s one in North Korea, 114,000.
A lot of international sports taking place.
We’ve got a really nice cab design just to it off.
And then after that you’ve got Michigan, which is for Michigan, Wolverines.
You’ve got Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania for Penn State, Nittany Lions football.
Columbus, Ohio, their College team,
College Field in Texas, Knoxville, Townsville, Tennessee.
Sorry, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
All of these are College football.
So out of the top ten, all but three
American College sports.
So that’s a market you’re just moving into now.
And that’s how big it is. Yeah.
Again, starting against soccer.
North Carolina, which is like the women’s soccer team that you want
into the Div one kind of football,
which obviously is American football, what we would say.
So, yeah, the opportunity is just there.
But then again, take a step back from the high schools,
the facilities at these high schools as well.
It is second to none.
It’s Premier League kind of facilities for a high school.
I mean, they do take their sport seriously, but in terms of as we all do.
But in terms of the funding and what’s in place for it all, it is second to none.
There was something passed in the early nineties.
I think it’s called title nine.
Andi it’s all about kind of like equality, which is great outside the big four
of football, basketball, baseball and hockey.
If you give men X number of sports
scholarships, you need to give women the same number of sports scholarships.
So again, take example, us women’s soccer.
They are by far the best team in the world and probably about ten years ahead
of everybody else because they have those facilities Andi training right
from the early ages, which is fantastic for the sport.
Andi you start to look at what those
American ladies are doing there absolutely will be by a mile or at the end.
I was going to say the American market as well.
Even from a broadcast perspective, the way they consume data in sport is
completely different Andi how we do it over.
I think we’re catching up.
But there is an appetite for data that is
completely like next level from scouting right through the broadcast.
So it just lends itself to our products really well.
And I think that paired
with the opportunity of the volume of players that are playing plus the size
of the pockets as well with some of the sport, especially in soccer.
And it’s a good recipe for an opportunity
there for us which almost as if you read my notes.
You’Ve managed to segue from the B to B
and help me land the plane on the B to C side of the field.
It’s not your first rodeo, is it? Talk to me about that.
So you’ve got this professional product that people have been wearing and then
where did the idea come from to sell it out to just the punter on the street
and maybe talk us through the Arsenal example as well?
Yeah, I mean, just to start off there
basically again the orders in 2019, I think it was kind of said this
technology needs to be made available for everybody.
It’s one of those it’s that kind of formal.
The best players in the world are using it.
Why can’t I use it?
So we brought out the technology.
It’s not 250 metrics, it’s 16 metrics.
And just giving the kids the sort
of grassroots players, the amateurs, the chance to use the technology
to effectively improve the game in terms of getting yourself faster, not faster.
Get yourself faster, get yourself fitter.
Can you send me one amateur? No problem.
In terms of just going from there.
So I mean, again, it’s no means be to try Andi that product
education, this guy to my left ear was very much key to that.
In terms of using the GP.
Digital marketing tools that is disposable and then growing them.
So obviously, Ryan, I think as well.
Yeah, I think it’s bringing that core
technology from the elite game and using the trust factors associated with that.
And there’s elite teams and democratizing that data Andi put in the hands
of the everyday player, which is what we’re trying to achieve.
There’s strengths and weaknesses to have that lead alignment where some people
don’t associate with the product as being only with elite.
I’m not at that level yet,
which means that it’s not for me, which is a hard product positioning piece.
There’s also an issue with not necessarily an issue, but a challenge with the data
Andi the level of data and then trying to decide this is what lead sports
scientist needs and this is what an everyday player needs.
And how do you present that data in a way
that can create the right outcome for those individual personas?
I think that’s been part of our challenge
Andi our learnings over the last couple of years.
The great thing about having great
ambassadors is for me, it’s a great stop to scroll.
You put Harry Kane’s face on an ad
that goes out on Instagram and you’re going to stop the scroll.
how do you educate the customer that this isn’t just a product for Harry Kane is
a product for a 16 year old that’s trying to break into an Academy or someone that’s
injury written and trying to get more pitch time.
So there’s a massive education piece Andi think from a consumer point of view,
we’ve got a long bind cycle, so it takes our customers approximately
a month and around four touch points to educate someone before,
from a brand knowledge point of view, right through the transaction.
So there’s a lot of education that’s needed in that process.
And for us, we’ve been trying to Hone in on how do we answer the right questions
Andi get the right answers in that process to shorten that almost.
So keep talking. Andi what were the tactics that you use to
help with that? To educate people before you move them through to purchase?
I think accepting probably there’s a couple of things we needed to accept.
We had to accept that we weren’t doing a one and done.
It wasn’t a madman campaign where you do TV ad and you persuade them,
you put all your features and benefits out there and then they’ll absorb 30 seconds
of a TV show and they’ll buy your product in one go.
It’s accepting that, yes,
we have shorter touch points, but we have four of them approximately.
So our education can be sequential.
So we give them different bites of what
they need or what we think that they need based on their intent at that level.
So I think one of the turning points
for me for our campaigns was we went on to the Facebook offices in Dublin
and they were showing us a Nielsen’s study that they did a joint study and
they were doing a study into the attention,
not necessarily attention span, but the time frame it takes for someone
to ascertain value from an ad or from a video.
And they were able to say that within 3
seconds, 37% of people ascertain the value of that ad and within 7 seconds,
74% of ascertain the value of that ad, which means that our lovely 1 minute long
video that has 50 features and all these benefits Andi everything were essentially
redundant because people weren’t going to make it at the end.
They were ascertain the value very early.
So breaking down, we broke down these messages into what is
the most simple way of answering the question, why would I buy this?
And then we a B tested the shit out of it basically, and find the best messages.
So yeah, it’s a long education process, but it was finding the right messages
at the right time, I guess was the main element of that.
I remember having a. Sorry, go ahead.
I think to add that as well,
just in terms of BTC, space is kind of like at the elite level,
they’ve all got sports scientists to interpret that data.
In terms of this is what it means and is what the actions are.
Whereas by right from the start of this
project, we were just giving these kids data, which after three weeks of going
right, this is my speed hard, I’ll get quicker.
So we’re on a sole charge now for content
from influencers, from ambassadors, from elite sports teams, plug that gap.
In terms of, well, this is how you become
quicker, this is how you become more physically fit.
So that’s that piece of it.
And then certainly from Ryan’s world Andi any of us as marketeers, we’ve got a real,
there’s a real balance to strike here.
In terms of, yes, it’s football,
which 50% of the population love, but only three, 5% play it.
So in terms of everything that we do,
in terms of messaging and marketing, it’s trying to reduce that wastage now
there will be uncles and dads within that who have got stones course around.
But in terms of to try and hit that 3.5%, to play the game is really tough.
And then couple that with when you have assets that we’ve got.
I mean, Ryan does a great job in terms of filtering out just the fans,
if that makes sense, because again, you put Raheem Sterling on it’s the easy
job for this guy to drive traffic to the website.
But to the website, we intend to buy different world entirely.
Ryan does a really good job of sort
of filtering that out and then retargeting accordingly.
Because again, the best players in the world use it and advertise it brilliant.
We still need to go.
This is what it does.
This has benefits,
the best example of that, and it’s probably the worst ad that I’ve
ever run was we got Ronaldo posted organically on his own Instagram channel.
Millions Andi millions of followers, like 400 million followers.
Biggest Instagram account now, isn’t it?
Used the video, didn’t it?
When it’s using our products with us, we’re vest using the product with us,
have no knowledge of it, although we did take credit for it afterwards.
We cut that up, put it in the ad and put it out.
And I think we got 9000 sessions within the first couple of hours of the ad.
But the level of buying Andi then
afterwards we didn’t put the ad was just eye catching, dry people on the site
and you could say from a pure funnel approach, okay,
all these people on the site, there’s going to be some conversion.
But the efficiency of moving someone from an awareness piece to considering
buying, which we would define as staying out of the basket, there was very little
coming through, which means that we just spent a load of money dragging sessions
of Renaldo fans on the site and it was almost away.
So on the surface it looks like a success.
But when you actually look underneath
and see if they’re buying a pin, then there’s virtually none.
So that was one of the learnings for us to say it’s very easy to do this,
but can we get them to show buying intent after that’s?
I think it’s a really interesting story because it goes back to that.
But I said at the beginning about, oh, everyone thinks your job is easy, right?
You got Ronaldo, you got Harry Kane, you got Raheem Sterling.
Everyone could sell this.
You can’t actually it takes the skill
to be able to refine, to chisel, to mind the data,
to find the people who are interested and get them through as quickly as you can.
Because essentially this is a pod which is about two
and a half inches by about an inch, that goes into back of that performance,
that then transmits that data through to your phone.
You try to explain that it looks like a page from 996.
When you look at the actual product,
you can’t put a picture of the pod up because everyone goes, what’s that?
And then you just put the vest up and they go, Is it just the best?
So the job that we are doing and continuing to do,
I’m getting some serious success from it is just slipping right back.
Like Ryan says, keep the messaging simple.
Someone said to me recently,
you throw in too many tennis balls at people and it’s hard to catch.
Throw one tennis ball, people can catch it, throw ten,
they don’t know which one to catch and they just missed the whole point.
Andi since I was told that three weeks
ago, I must have used it about 45 times in meeting
there we go.
But it’s just such a real clarity of it just cut it down, throw one ball,
catch it, throw another one Andi just keep building that way.
But also as well.
Certainly in Ryan’s world as well in terms of what the technologies for marketing now
allow us to do that in terms of gone of the days of just the big Billboard
and the TVC, the technologies are there to do it.
Ryan touched on the US.
There I was over in New York a few weeks
by understanding how they consume television and like connected TV
and platforms and all this coming out of everything’s coming from the US,
it’s only going to hit here in the next five to ten years.
It’s a digital marketing stream in terms
of how you can sort of buy that by the advertising space sky
recently, last year in the UK, you can basically buy ads of people
who are streaming sky through their PS Five and Xboxes.
Well, instinctively that tells you it’s a youth market.
So it’s kind of like all the big kind of advertisers are really sort of giving
you the tools to be able to hit those target markets.
Brilliant stuff. So how do you build your
campaigns around the key buying cycles like Black Friday or Christmas or other
January fitness goals? Do you use those to drive the consumer side of the business?
Yeah, I think Black Friday like most people
at the same time, don’t you?
It is game day.
It’s the biggest stress of your life
and then you’re always like begging for it to be over and then you kind of miss it
when it’s gone because the Hype’s gone a little bit.
So it’s low pay relationship.
But no, we are still a massive gift
in product around Christmas and Black Friday plays a massive part in that.
We’re quite a high for our particular vertical as well.
So a discount does respond quite well in that market.
How you build a campaign leading into that is basically because we know we
have a large education period in the lead up.
We’re essentially using October to bring as many people on the site and educate
them and not worry about the conversion element of it just as much.
As long as we’re bringing through those
two, three, four touch points to educate them.
We know that when we press a button on a Black Friday campaign,
it’s going to be click to buy, it’s going to be the persuasions already done.
And it’s almost the conversion period then.
And even our creative completely changes going into those periods like in October
where we’ve got a lot of video content, it’s a lot of educational content.
And then Black Friday you’re talking very simple, like majority static.
Here’s the Harry Kane’s face, here’s the price proposition.
By now it’s very simple.
So I think we build those parts up
from a remarketing perspective, education perspective,
and then we just start chopping them up when we get in the end of the sale period.
Do you have that moment as you start to cry sometime in October where you start
to look in at your cost of your ads just going in this awful peak?
I cried quietly alone.
No there is.
We do have a little Amber period where you
can see some turning points in terms of people.
It’s a check out completion rate I think
is where you start to see people going, oh you know what, I might just hold off
and wait for the sale to drop instead Andi an element of it is having base
in the process of we’ve done education, you’ve got people to a certain point
and they’re waiting for that trigger to kind of complete it off Andi it’s
a harder selling to finance but we have a last couple of years it’s worked.
Everything’s a hard sell into finance.
When you’re in marketing though, everything is a hard sell.
With your CMO, how do you juggle the competing pressures
of managing the brand, the Start Sports brand that you are
selling to your everyday footballer, your weekend warrior as well as going
on sale in the run up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday while also trying
to positioning Start Sports as this elite brand that has to sit there
in the conversations with Man United and Renaldo and things like that. What are
the challenges you have to deal with in that space?
I suppose a lot of the challenges for me is that if that balance isn’t between
brand and performance and it’s one of those I know it’s a bit of an obvious
answer but no one’s got the right answer for it and if we did would all be more
high paid jobs as we are from Ryan’s performance head.
Sometimes he will question what I’m doing.
Don’t you Ryan?
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
It is totally my responsibilities in terms
of what I call key energy moments for those sports.
We need to be around it.
So whether that is the start of season, whether that is a major tournament,
it’s up to us to ride that wave and sort of increase our awareness.
I mean take the Euros.
Yes the Ukraine moment was fantastic but I mean that campaign was starting planning
from the previous year just in terms of getting ready for it.
We knew we had the assets a little bit of look along the way like McGuire score,
Sterling score, Caine score, all our assets scored England off the final.
But at the same time it’s just making sure that we are visible at the right moments
in that premium facility and then also buying mediate tactically where you can
to sort of get around your audience in the most cost efficient manner to then
let this guy take over when they start to come into our ecosystem.
I’m wanting to get the best traffic possible into our websites or our social
channels so this guy can take over on the retargeting.
The other side of that is if you look at any sort of retailer conversations
that we have, I mean, we’re in some pretty big retailers now.
I think we’ve got three scam shopping
shops on Oxford Street in London, the busiest shopping street in Europe.
And that’s because we have good content and we have evergreen content as well.
We’re not liking it to change the product every twelve weeks of any other way.
We’ve got the best players in the world
that can sit in those retailers all year round.
They love it. We love it, and it’s only adding to it.
I mean, those stores on up to the street,
about a million people a year football, that isn’t bad for the brand.
Yes, I might not sell quite as many as what the website can do,
but I’ve got to measure that kind of intent and the time of the year
and the energy moments around it to make sure I’m where I need to be.
I think to build on that as well.
Like before Startless dashboard,
I would have always come in with a performance head of like,
this is what your what we efficiently spend.
Whereas he is a massive advocate
of the market Andi mix approach and have multiple touch points.
You want to exist and have content where the customer exists.
Andi that’s completely changed my mindset
to an extent on how you approach marketing, that perspective.
And I think a key example of it is once you turn off the top and some
of that brand marketing piece, that top of funnel.
Yes, you don’t see the knock on effect
in terms of sales short term, but then long term,
if you’re not creating that education piece long term, you start to see those
sales sort of fall away Andi think there was a piece of marketing week
from Idaho where I think they got in and then they switched off their
balance of brand versus performance with fully short term and completely
trashed their sales long term because they have the short term approach Andi
think there is a balance in that between where you can efficiently spend Andi
attribute sales, but you need that brand aspect to it.
Otherwise it’s going to make my life a lot harder, I guess I think.
To add to that as well, it’s that kind of when you talk about
peaks and troughs, you’ve got the kind of consumers peaks
and troughs around when there’s a gift giving period.
I mean, back in my old world, it was Easter,
back to school and Christmas, whereas this one is pretty much as
Christmas, but then you’ve got the peaks and troughs of the sporting calendar.
So we’re going into 2022, we’ve got the World Cup at Christmas.
This is just blowing people’s minds
in terms of as an opportunity, what it is for the sports industry,
but then also making sure it isn’t a massive red herring.
If you go back to I was around London 2012, the Olympics.
Everyone thought there was this massive sports boom.
It kind of wasn’t.
People just like buying Union Jacks in London, going down Oxford Street,
that’s kind of all those shops that sell like the red buses and all that.
They made hay. The sports didn’t really make hay off it,
even though the Greatest Show on Earth was in town.
I think the interesting thing is when you
think about the brand Andi performance piece, it always makes me laugh as a CMO
when it gets to January and everybody tries to success for it.
So if you speak to the PR agency
because of us, because of us, which is all great,
but it’s that mix of you’re all in it together, let’s all move forward together.
So it just makes you laugh about anything like sort of social growth.
Everyone will try and take it as it’s their responsibility.
It’s everybody’s responsibility.
I am going to take the clip of Ryan
performance market and moving to loving brand marketing.
That’s going to be the clip that we used before.
I think the lease up straight away.
If you’re interested, I’m going to maybe get him back
on the podcast on his own and then see what he really we do everything.
It’s none of that brand, all that brand shit.
It’s all us. We do all our work.
You told me you’d never ask that.
So I want to kind of jump back to some
of the PR brandwork that you get as well, because I want a link to it in the show
notes about the Football Focus piece that happened.
Was it Football Focus or was it matching the day?
Well, you’re on the mall, it went into the Arsenal Academy and they had their
there was a BBC click piece that we did.
So, yeah, the Arsenal deal was the kind of again,
the owners have been planning this, importing this for a number of years.
We always talk about joining the dots between the elite and the consumer.
This is the first one that does that.
This is the real kind of selling
the sizzle in terms of the Arsenal first team use it.
You can use the same technology.
You can compare yourself to the Academy players based on age, position and gender.
You can compare yourself against the top players if you want to.
And then ultimately that data is then shared with Arsenal football club.
So if you’re hitting the right stats,
there’s no reason why they can’t bring you in for the trial.
In terms of the perfect kind of idea for a campaign and joining the dots
between the elite space and consumer space, that’s it.
In terms of. Wow, that really got right.
I get it. Do what I mean, yeah.
I think Peyton motorcycle was on lady in charge of the Arsenal Academy.
He’s the Academy director.
And again, he was using our technology as a player as well.
So he was staying on it.
And this is where, what does it say about a professional sports person?
It’s a case of its talent,
it’s mindset and it’s physical attributes get mostly right and you’ve nailed it.
If one of those drops, the other two will suffer.
So we are a massive part of that.
In terms of the development of elite athletes.
Has there been any examples of maybe young
players strapping their start sports performance restaurant of the dog to get
kind of the top speeds up so that they’re no minor legend?
Again, because the human body can only go
so fast, we put a cap on it in terms of like, I mean, I’ve done it myself.
You keep your pod and drive off Andi you think you’re going 30 miles an hour.
But the pod recognizes the fact that no
human can go this fast, if that makes sense.
So that’s fine. Yeah.
That Arsenal piece is really, again, it’s in the show notes, hopefully,
but it’s a really great example of the BTB and the BTC world combining together.
Andi take it you’re looking for more deals
like that in different markets Andi with different clubs.
I can’t say the clubs, but we started asking
who were a big brand, but we’re speaking to Donna Goodie rugby club.
No, don’t begin.
As soon as you launch the partnership with the bags.
Talks ongoing because it sparks interest for commercial departments, doesn’t it?
What’s this new revenue stream.
Just to kind of wrap up where you
mentioned revenue stream to bring it back for the consumer part of the world? Are
you a product business, a bit like a Fitbit where you sell
the product and that’s it? Or is it more of a SAS model where there’s an ongoing
kind of dive in to keep hold of all the data and more analytics access?
I think right now it is that kind of hardware, which is what we are.
However, where it’s going to go in the next 1224 months, nobody knows.
There’s a million ways of skinning it.
Yes, we’ve got data.
Yes, there’s a potential subscription
products available within our industry, or yes, we can sell it outright.
I just think we’ve all come out a lot down as well, the fitness industry per se,
the kind of fitness,
whatever you want to call it, it’s going to twist Andi turn a lot over
the next twelve months and there’s going to be harsh lessons from certain
industries that think they’ve nailed it and they haven’t.
Simple as that.
We’re going into a completely new world.
No one’s going to predict what’s happening this time next year.
I think it would be foolish to say we’re
going to do X because the world is going to be Y.
I read Professor Scott Galloway.
Who is an interesting character.
I don’t know if you’ve come across him or you read him.
He’s very American and very bullish on his
opinions, even when he’s not right, but he is right a lot of the time.
But one of the things he talks about is about the share prices of the big
companies, the apples, the Amazon and things like that.
And he dives into it and looks at basically the only thing a lot of their
shareholders care about isn’t actually revenue.
It’s about growth.
So when you start to boil it down and you look at where can they grow the markets
that they are dominant in, there’s not really any growth.
And there’s only a few areas where they can go into.
Andi healthcare is a big one.
And Google bought Fitbit and moving
into healthcare and fitness and that sort of area.
There’s rumors Amazon are going to buy Peloton.
The big companies are moving aggressively into the fitness space,
which same reason they’re going into TV and entertainment and the same reason
they’re going into education in different areas, because they’re probably the only
categories that can go in and get the sort of growth that they’re after.
Military as well, actually.
And they’re all bidding for massive US military contracts.
So there’s elements of that there.
And that will fundamentally change the industry you’re in want it.
That when the Amazon, Facebook’s and Apple start weighing
in seriously into that industry, everything changes, doesn’t it?
And that’s an exciting and terrifying thing at the same time.
Is it things exciting and future terrifying?
The only thing to add to that,
and this is about blowing our own trunk here, which we are.
I mean, if you said
the Worldwide Developers Conference for Apple last year, our product was on it.
In terms of in the elite space of putting
the technologies to the watch, Apple were like, I don’t know how you do that.
How have you got that data into a cloud Andi down to a watch in real time?
They were blown away by it.
And then even down to like back in I think it’s 2015.
I think we worked with Nike to develop the first female football boo.
So the big boys know who we are Andi we
know who they are Andi think we take reassurance from that in terms of we’re
still best in class, all the finances they’ve got, we’re still best in class.
And we say all the time Nike could bring this thing out tomorrow, costly could.
But you look at where unlike, what the 8th evolution of the kind
of hardware and software you saw what Nike did with golf clubs in terms of they just
couldn’t do it in terms of like the accounts coming in is on the market.
I did ask you with my coach in about 2013, it didn’t work.
You know what I mean?
So we’ve got to take some confidence from that that we know what we’re doing
and our technology works unlike some others.
So that’s the second clip we’ll use.
Ian Forrester says we’re better than Nike, Andi that’s brilliant.
As we get to the end of the podcast,
I ask the same sort of questions to every guest.
So, Ryan, I’ll throw at you first.
Where do you go to keep on top of what’s changing in marketing?
Are you a reader, a blogger, a podcaster?
Where do you pick your information up from?
Probably a mix, I think, overlockdown massively got in the podcast.
I think trying to go on walks for my own
sanity probably added to that a little bit.
Always been a big reader.
And then Twitter.
For all the pitfalls of Twitter, from a general societal point of view,
Twitter Andi the marketing ecommerce base is actually incredibly valuable.
And if you follow the right people, then you can get a huge amount of value
and people can be very transparent as well in that platform.
Any podcast you’d recommend other than this fabulous one strategy sessions.
I like the Business Breakdown podcast.
It comes from maybe more of an investor point of view, but it’s a good background.
There’s one on Peloton recently Andi it
broke down kind of there it was before they released that statement on why
the CEO was terrible, but it was a nice breakdown Andi their
growth Andi their purchasing patterns for that type of stuff.
Yeah, stuff like that would primarily want to be listened to.
There’s a couple of them good ecommerce
ones out there that I can’t think off the top of my head.
And then this one, of course,
the more books wise thinking fast and slow is probably I would
recommend that to any person in Europe, to be honest.
I think that’s like a staple.
Andi then I’ve just finished Book Traction
at the minute with Gino Whitman.
Sounds like a thriller. Traction.
Is it up there?
Yeah, it’s not being read.
There’s a lot of intelligent looking books up there.
So people I thought that was a green screen.
I didn’t know that they were real.
There is actually Vizier’s Profanity
stores over in the corner as well, just there.
So they’re not all intelligent books.
So let’s move on from that. Yeah.
It’s the Dictionary of Profanity is what it is.
Which is anyway, move on quickly.
Andi Ian, what about you?
Well, in terms of books I’ve read or how I keep on top of everything.
Yeah, I’ll just stay on top of what’s changing.
Yeah, I think.
Well, first of all, number one, I am a sports nut.
I mean, it doesn’t kind of go about saying so.
I consume sport, every type of sport.
Andi in this industry, obviously, it helps Andi think in terms of what I’ll kind
of do is the certain companies to certain buzzwords.
If I see it in the news, I’m going to read further on it.
So there isn’t a particular pattern that sort of keep week to week.
But let’s say you’re on Twitter, you’re on Instagram,
you’re reading the newspaper, you’re eating the website something will
sort of catch your eye and then I’ll sort of go into a little bit of a black hole
reading about it and then later on to the top of that the sort of business
of sport because it is the business of sport.
It keeps me very busy. Yeah.
That’s what I kind of look at in terms of books, really.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m a big massive one for sports
How they how they become the best in the world.
It’s mind blowing.
I stopped reading sports autobiographies.
I’ll not name the person.
It was a very famous cricket as
autobiography and I’m massive fan of this cricket and I read the autobiography.
It was Devon Malcolm.
It was one of the most what you guys are history.
it’s a whole book that could well have been three paragraphs.
You just like, oh my goodness, this is just not that interesting.
And after that I was like I can’t be spot sort of biographies anymore.
I think the only one the one I’ve read
since then Peter Crouch which is sort of an old bike.
He’s just a light on the piss.
That’s quite funny.
Better ban too about him. So brilliant stuff.
And then the last question to both of you, are there any questions you usually get
asked on podcasts that I haven’t asked today?
I think he said.
Yeah, that’s all right.
I’m nothing if not popular but we’ll get
the picture of Ryan in the bra for the promo of the private one just beyond that.
No good stuff.
But listen, Ryan, thank you very much your time and good luck with the future.