In this Sports Geek Throwback episode, Sean Callanan interviews  Ryan Kaveney from episode 201, who was at the GWS Giants when the episode was recorded and now CFO at Sonder.

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Key Takeaways

In this Sports Geek Throwback,  Ryan and Sean discussed funnels of fan acquisition

  • The importance of geographical location and culture in attracting new fans
  • The steady growth of fan engagement through participation
  • The significance of genuine community involvement reflecting the values of Western Sydney
  • The strategy of using existing fans as promoters
  • The ongoing efforts to devise new techniques to reach ‘everyone else'

This transcript has been lightly edited by AI

Sean: The AFL has reached everybody. All the fans are aware of us, they see us on TV. So, where are the new fans? Part of it is geographical, being the growth corridor that Western Sydney is. But then part of it is also about where people come from. People that aren't native to Australia, that don't know the game, that are new. And then, kids that aren't being introduced in the traditional way. I was told by my dad to support Collingwood because my great granddad played for Collingwood. I didn't get a choice. My son didn't get a choice. How do you then get to those new fans? And that's where all of the programs and everything you're doing now is like you said, it's both seeding things for now, but also for 10, 15 years from now, what the club might be.

Ryan: Yeah. And we really think that we can become a big club because of the growth and the population that is in Western Sydney. If I was to call out, the three funnels of fan acquisition that we look at, we discussed about one, which is participation and we work really closely with the league on that. All the people that are technically AFL employees, they wear Giants branded stuff out in the communities in Western Sydney. So, they're pushing our brand and that's a really successful funnel, but it's a steady funnel. You can't accelerate it. You can't supercharge it. It's a pretty steady growth over the next 10, 15 years. The second one would be the community. What are we doing there? Are we being genuine? Are we really living the values of Western Sydney? We've got a fantastic community team that has been one of the major successes from day one of the club. They've really done good work in genuine work and really identified what was important to that community and been out there both in Canberra and Western Sydney. And then the third one is everyone else. It is a constant battle of trying different things, different techniques.

Sean: So, how do you give that brief to your digital team? The easiest thing to do is to hit up your digital cheer squad, the people who are always in. Yes, you want to keep those people engaged and keep growing them. But you're also saying we want to make sure that there's this content that gets these people who have never heard of us. Whether it's quirky content that drives the personalities of the players or silly trick shots, how do you give that brief to say, well, we're serving multiple masters here.

Ryan: It's a great question. There's no silver bullet. It's about trying and learning. Certainly, it's about connecting the emotional side of us as a footy club. Sydney's got the most competitive sports market per capita with professional teams. We need to differentiate ourselves. What do we stand for? So that person that may not have a real knowledge of AFL, but also isn't necessarily an entertainment seeker, we need to connect with them on some sort of emotional level. Whether that's a brand exercise or unique content that we get out there. Luckily, our fans are 20,000 strong. They're pretty rusted on. They love the club already. And so we really feel like we can use them as promoters. We feel like we've got to continue to try and do different things. But we're also looking outward and seeing what's working in other places. It's a constant AB test. And we're looking for continuous growth every year and not trying to solve all the issues of the world in the next 12 months.

Connect with Ryan Kaveney

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Listen to full episode with Ryan Kaveney