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What football’s January transfer window can teach us about high-value sales

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Love it or loathe it, the January transfer window is an essential trading period for professional football clubs. The limited selling period creates demand and pushes up prices. The transfer window demonstrates the power of a genuinely limited offer – and it’s a sales and marketing tool that other industries selling high-value products or services can learn from.

Football’s January transfer window can teach us about generating high-value sales Photo: EFKS/Shutterstock

Driving demand

Everyone in football knows when the transfer window is approaching. This year Liverpool had seemingly fleshed out the details of Virgil van Dijk’s reported £75m move from Southampton before the window opened in order to seal the deal quickly.

For a time-limited offer to work most effectively, people need to know it’s coming. Marketing priority appointments to your hottest prospects will encourage them to be ready to act, with finances in order. Maximise demand by promoting your offer to a broader audience and your prospects list should be bulging by the day of the launch. If you’re holding a launch event, consider a queuing system – and if a huge queue appears don’t forget to capture it on camera for use in PR.

Volume of sales

The demand created through marketing your offer beforehand can be harnessed to generate a significant volume of sales. Football’s equivalent of shifting stock is taking unwanted players off the payroll. They could be out of favour or the club could simply need to release cash to ease financial pressures.

The same principles can apply to houses, cars, jewellery or luxury holidays. The transfer window is regularly compared with housing sales because of the inter-dependent nature of many purchasers.

Knowing your buyers is key here. Segment your data and promote the most relevant offer to each. Keep prices realistic for more difficult-to-sell products and focus on conversion. Remember to reiterate the time frame the offer is available for to keep the urgency at the forefront of the customer’s mind.

Maximising values

Are higher sales values more important to your business model than volume? The January transfer window has yielded some of the most expensive transactions in UK football. Van Dijk takes the top spot at present. Diego Costa’s move to Atletico Madrid is reportedly in the region of £57m. Other notable moves include Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea for £50m (2011), Juan Mata from Chelsea to Manchester United for £37m and Andy Carroll from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35m (2011).

Basic rules of supply and demand dictate that a premium product in high demand and only available for a limited time will cost more. Consider the best sales method for your product – will a straightforward price tag, sealed bids or an auction be more successful? Again, reiterate the urgency and the limited availability.

Creating urgency

As the January transfer window draws to a close, transaction levels usually rise. Deadline day prompts a media storm as clubs rush to sign players before the cut-off. They know if they don’t, they will be waiting until May for their signing.

With high-value purchases, the customer journey can often be long. By introducing a limited opportunity, you can encourage customers to arrive at decisions more quickly – but they will need your help. Pre-empt possible objections and plan ways to overcome them. Provide all the information the customer needs to make their purchasing decision with confidence.

Brand awareness

Football clubs need players – there’s a captive market there. But a by-product of the transfer window is awareness of the sport. Without supporters buying tickets, merchandise and TV subscriptions, clubs would fold, so increased interest in the sport is welcomed.

Deadline day in the January transfer window conjures images of reporters outside training grounds, players clutching their new club shirt and Harry Redknapp at his car window – enduring images which we associate with the sport.

Your limited offer is an opportunity to make a much wider audience aware of your brand and create your own enduring images. Some people may not be in the market for your product right now – perhaps they’re younger than your target audience, find the price point prohibitive, or it’s just not the right time – but you can tap into their aspirations. When the time comes for them to seek out a holiday, house, car or a new kitchen, you want your brand to be top of their list for your industry. Demonstrate the success of your campaign through PR and social media, pay to promote your posts and encourage social sharing. Telling your story will raise brand awareness and build your audience. Your next job is to keep them engaged.

Need help to plan, implement and analyse your campaign? Liberty PR is a strategic communications agency specialising in paid, earned, shared and owned content for high-value consumer brands. Email hello@libertypr.co.uk to find out how we can help.

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