On Tuesday, October 11, Texas AMA had the pleasure of hosting Austin FC’s James Ruth, SVP of Marketing, and Megan Lindon, Director of Brand Marketing. Ruth and Lindon, who have been with Austin FC since March 2020 and September 2020, respectively, worked to develop the soccer club’s brand through marketing strategies.

Ruth stated that when he began his role at Austin FC, its marketing was no more than a crest and colors. When finding new marketing strategies, it was important to them that the strategies were unique to Austin FC and the city as a whole. The team recognized that the market of devoted soccer fans was small and limited. Therefore, if they followed traditional strategies, such as posting highlight reels, there would be little opportunity for growth.

They instead worked on developing a brand that was focused on Austin and the already established culture of the city. Their first marketing campaign focused on paying homage to well-known and unknown people in Austin. Lindon stated that the focus on people rather than soccer was very intentional. Emphasis was placed on making the first campaigns welcoming and comforting to ensure Austin that the club was not there to uproot what Austin already had, but to play in and be organic to the culture.

“We’re telling you to root for us [Austin FC] because we’re rooting for the city,” said Lindon.

Another key strategy was idealizing flexible options. It is better to create a frame in which they can find something to fit than to create a frame already molded to something else. This plays in with the club’s emphasis on marketing that is not performance or player-focused. In the first season (2021), Austin FC was second to last in the Western Conference, so marketing based on performance was not realistic. Additionally, it is best to not pledge bets on players since contracts are always changing. These strategies help to build a fanbase that is consistently supportive, despite all else.

Speaking on the recent collaboration with Adidas, both Ruth and Lindon expressed the importance to “always go culture first.” The marketing department opted to go in-house for the video production in order to focus on more authentic positioning, showcase Austin creatives, and save time on the ideation step. All metrics, from sales to social media engagement, point to this approach being the right one.

Overall, Austin FC’s brand is unique to the city of Austin, and its marketing strategies are unlike those of many other sports entities. Austin FC’s fresher take on sports marketing has proven to be effective and acts as inspiration for many other entities looking to build their brand.

As always, thank you to Austin FC, and especially James Ruth and Megan Lindon, for sharing their experience and knowledge with Texas AMA.

For more information about Austin FC’s 2022 season, click the link below: https://www.austinfc.com/schedule/matches#competition=all&date=2022-10-16

Article by: Anh Dang

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