Attendees: Andrea Green, Susie Woffinden, Angela Rimmington Brown, Malcolm Robinson, Keith Huggins

Apologies: Ian Waterhouse

Guest for the Evening:

Leeds Rugby Head of Marketing – Matt Adams

Matt has worked at Leeds Rugby for 2 years.  Before this he worked at Hull FC for 5 years and had a 2-year position at Hull Stingrays Ice Hockey.

Matt held the position as Head of Data and CRM at Leeds Rugby, and since his last visit to the Fans Forum has now changed positions to Head of Marketing.  The Head of Marketing role doesn’t just incorporate Leeds Rugby but now goes a little wider and incudes Headingley Lodge.

Matt’s role is to make sure we are targeting 3 strands of marketing:

  • Acquisition
  • Retention
  • Re-Engagement (focussing on lapsed members)

We have now got an enhanced relationship with the RFU and we will be working closely with them over the course of the next season targeting existing Rugby Union fans in their database that live within the County (more than 30,000 individuals). The RFU will send out regular correspondences on our behalf to members on their mailing list. Once they’ve engaged with us we’ll have that data.

As part of the 2-year plan, Matt has looked at the best avenues to use in terms of promoting   Yorkshire Carnegie.  The digital approach is the most cost effective and enables us to be really targeted and focused with all marketing collateral ensuring any offers or content are relevant to that individual. Another benefit of digital is we can clearly measure campaign success and see the ROI. To put the potential of digital in to context there are more than 120,000 rugby union fans on Facebook who live within a 15-mile radius of the stadium.

Another area that Matt is looking at is utilising the Leeds Rhinos Ambassador Scheme.  Leeds Rhinos have an Ambassador Scheme which targets businesses, schools, community clubs and local supporter branches around Leeds.  Matt would like to work with these people to also promote the Yorkshire Carnegie brand.  A focus in this area will be the local businesses whose staff are just as likely to be interested in rugby union as league.

We’ve already begun working closer with the local universities.  Engaging with students is almost a short-term solution, we’re very conscious that students are potentially only in the area for 3 years before moving away. As a club, our overall objective is to grow the engaged fanbase and members rather than boosting attendances by one off attendees. However, as we experienced with the Greene King IPA Final fixture at Headingley engaging with students can enhance match days and boost atmosphere. Next season we will be picking limited games to engage with this market rather than running a heavily discounted season membership that’s hardly used.

During the 2 years plan that Matt speaks about, it is clear to see that Yorkshire Carnegie will be building a fanbase organically using new acquisition projects and also re engagement of lapsed members.

To try and drive some immediate awareness and engagement the club will be having a presence at the Great Yorkshire show in July and this is something that Yorkshire Carnegie have never done before, there’ll be a strong focus on data capture and junior memberships.

Question for Matt from Ian Waterhouse – Fans Forum Member: –

  • What differences does your job entail in terms of the opposition club and are there always at least two options to choose between in implementing actions depending on the club?

Matt: As a club with limited resource we always need to take a strategic approach to all our match days. We have a structured promo and communication plan we roll out for every fixture regardless of opponent, however the focus for the upcoming season is making the big games bigger with enhanced match day activity using the London Irish final as the model.

Susie:

  • What does success look like in terms of Marketing?

Matt: Success to us will be delivering good match days, great atmospheres by making sure we can get people here.  I want to get away from one off attendees and make sure we’ve got a long-term strategy in place to grow the fanbase. 

Angela:

  • Who drives your strategy?

Matt: At this stage, the business objectives for Yorkshire Carnegie are relatively straight forward – we need to grow the fanbase. Sir Ian McGeechan is very supportive to what we try to achieve as a club as far as driving numbers etc.  We have the resource to really target the wider area with Lisa McCann, Community Manager for Yorkshire Carnegie.  It is Lisa’s job to create the relationships between the club and the community and engage them, from there it’s for the marketing department to manage the customer journey and turn them in to members.  

Susie:

  • Did we get any lapsed fans coming to the final?

Matt: Yes, there were a few, however the final attracted more new fans from a relatively wide area including North Yorkshire and the East Riding. Very positive!

Feedback from Susie Woffinden – Fans Forum Member: –

  • When will we get season ticket information (I know you have said soon but a number of people have asked me?)

Sian:  Yorkshire Carnegie Season Memberships will be on sale as of Friday 30th June.  The memberships are being stripped back and we won’t have a Gold and Silver for next season, it will just one membership for access to standing and unreserved seating which is the same as the Silver membership and will be general admission.  This is all due to the announcement that was made on Wednesday 28th June regarding the stadium re-development.  There will be no price increase: Adults – £140, Concessions (seniors over 65, students and disabled) – £90 and Juniors (16 and under) will be free.

  • What impact will the construction work have on which stands are open for next season? Are there any plans to move games away from Headingley to accommodate construction?

Sian:  The construction work will have an impact on the stands, which is unavoidable.  The Carnegie Stand will be the only stand that is open for Yorkshire Carnegie match days. 

  • There is a lot of speculation about the next 3-year plan and some media coverage suggesting a tie up with Bath dual registration. We can all see that at the moment the squad is looking small in comparison to previous years. Fans have appreciated the openness from the board in previous years- what are the plans to communicate the future plans for the club to the fans?

Sian:  We have previously had a pre-season meeting before a match at the beginning of the season.  This is something that I will need to speak with Sir Ian McGeechan and David Dockray to decide on when this happens for the 2017-2018 season.  I know this has been requested also by our Media and PR department.

  • Are there any pre-season games planned yet?

Sian: Nothing decided as yet.

  • A big thank you – those who went to Reading appreciated the fun bus being put on- although it was a very long day and night and the result did not go as planned L It was still good to be able to get there without driving.

Sian: Thank you for your positive feedback.

  • What is the situation with Friday night games next season?

Sian:  There are a variety of reasons why there won’t be a lot of Friday night fixtures next season: times of year, construction work, Rhinos fixtures.  When the fixture list comes out you will find that there is one Friday scheduled in.

Feedback from Andrea Green- Fans Forum Member: –

  • Fans require a meeting to see where we are with this forthcoming season. An update on the whole lot really, venue, season tickets, players, the 2017 vision and aims, etc.

Sian: See above answer regarding pre-season meeting.

Feedback from Ian Waterhouse – Fans Forum Member: –

  • Things fairly quiet at moment as we might expect apart from when are season tickets available etc. plus significant dissatisfaction with lack of information coming from Club since Play-off final.

Sian: There is nothing to report really since the Final however news has started to come out this week and over the coming weeks re: stadium re-development, fixtures, memberships, new signings, etc.

Feedback from Peter Turner – Yorkshire Carnegie Fan (via email): –

  • Would it be possible to put on the website a list of all players that have left since last season and also the new arrivals?

Sian: The current 2017-2018 squad is on the site now.  There are still some new signings to be announced which will come in due course.  We have however got a new member of our conditioning staff:

  • Gary Dempsey – Strength & Conditioning Coach

Feedback from Peter Creek– Yorkshire Carnegie Fan (via email): –

  • Where will Yorkshire Carnegie be playing its home games during the reconstruction of the North and South Stands next season?

Sian: Yorkshire Carnegie will be playing their games at Headingley still – seating and standing will be in the Carnegie Stand behind the posts.

Feedback from Graeme McCallum– Yorkshire Carnegie Season Member (via email): –

  • There is an alarming lack of new information appearing on the website.

Since the Madjeski second leg of the final we have seen precious little news being posted.

I would have expected Season Ticket pricing and sale arrangements to be available.

The current squad as showing on the web numbers 17 players, three of whom we already know are furthering their careers at Premiership outfits. Oh well, we can always field a rugby league side.

I get the idea that the purse strings are tightly tied and that wins will be hard to come by.

But please give us more information.

Sian: Please see answers to feedback above answered on individual points made.  With the squad on the website, a request was made to Sotic our web providers to show the new squad, but they came across several issues with switching to the new season. They have now sorted the issues and the current confirmed squad is now on the site.