How to punch above your weight

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Can I let you into a little secret?

I’m a big Brentford FC fan. 

Although these days, I’m less inclined to keep this a secret… as back in May, after 74 years in relative obscurity (and at one point just twelve years ago flirting with relegation from the football league) we were promoted to the Premier League.

Having been to about 500 games over the last 38 years or so, to finally reach the promised land was a dream I thought could never be achieved, the main reason being that The Championship (the league below the Premier League) is famously one of the most competitive leagues in the world, and Brentford were one of the ‘smallest’ clubs competing, having been promoted from League One seven years ago.

And tonight, we kick the season off at home to the mighty Arsenal. And *if* we win, then for a few hours at least, we’ll be top of the Premier League.

The Championship features at least three teams every season who have been relegated from the Premier League. These teams receive ‘parachute payments’ when they’re relegated, in order that they can continue to pay players who’ve been signed on Premier League contracts and of course, wages. 

This gives the relegated teams a huge advantage, as they can often hold onto these players and bounce straight back up. A number of teams have subsequently ‘yo-yo’d’ between the Premier League and The Championship across the last few years since these payments were introduced. 

On top of this, there are loads of traditionally ‘big’ clubs in The Championship, each owning a big stadium, and regularly attracting crowds of over 30,000 people.

Brentford’s old ground, Griffin Park, had a capacity of 12,000, and their new ground, as yet largely un-used due to Covid, has a capacity of 17,500.

Factor this in with various other elements, and last season Brentford had the 17th lowest playing budget of the 24 teams in The Championship. 

But in February, after a 21 game unbeaten run, we were top. 

And in May, after a small blip, we were promoted via the play-offs at Wembley Stadium – one of three teams to achieve promotion from the 24 vying for this at the start of the season.

So how did they punch so massively above their weight?

By thinking and doing things differently to everyone else. 

They use data-driven information to find players in lower leagues, often in Europe, who are over-performing at the level they’re playing at, and who are unlikely to have been noticed yet.

They carry out further analysis on these players to make sure that they fit the positive culture of the club and will act as ambassadors as well as footballers.

These players help the club to achieve increased success, and have been sold on for over ten times what was paid for them. 

This enables the club to re-invest in new players as well as in facilities, infrastructure and the club’s financial future. 

The compound result of the implementation of this strategy, repeated and evolved over the last ten years, has seen the club now competing at the highest domestic level, and rubbing shoulders with Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City etc as equals for at least the next 38 games and hopefully beyond. 

Why am I telling you this?

Well, aside from taking any opportunity to talk about my beloved team, you can think like this within your business too.

Using data, and implementing a strategic approach, repeated month on month, year on year, can produce amazing results, and see you soar above your competitors, whoever they are. 

The compound effect of making gradual improvements to your website, testing what works and what doesn’t, repeating and enhancing the things that are going well and tracking your efforts, means that your website can rise up the rankings in the way that Brentford have climbed up the league tables.  

Analysing your competitors is an often overlooked element in digital marketing, and this is good news, because it means that your competitors probably aren’t analysing you! This gives you a massive advantage over the competition when trying to get ahead of the game in making sure that potential customers are contacting you before them.

Our specialist software can see where your competitors rank on Google, for which keywords they’re ranking for, and even if they’re doing advertising, and how long they’ve been doing it for. If they’ve been doing it for a while, it’s probably working, and is probably something you should be doing too.

If you’re running your own Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, you can not only get yourself to the top of Google as quickly as you want to (by the end of the day if you really wanted to!) but you also get access to the *exact* terms that visitors to your website are typing into Google to find you. This means you can use this data to inform which of these keywords might be good to optimise your website for organically, meaning that visitors can then find your website without you having to pay for it.

Mining this type of data can often mean finding keywords that you didn’t even know related to your business, or understanding search volumes in a way that you didn’t before. You could have been underachieving for a certain keyword for years, missing vital traffic, leads and sales, but having this type of knowledge can change all of that in a heartbeat.

When sending out an e-newsletter, or posting a blog post (such as this one) – you can analyse who opened the email, who clicked on the links, which devices the article was most popular on. This can show you who the most engaged people in your audience are, and also inform you as to which types of email / posts to send in the future. You might find that your best open rates are on a Friday for example… hence while you’re reading this particular article today 😉

Social Media insights can also give you a wealth of knowledge on your audience when used properly, and when using the FB Pixel on your website, you can build audiences and then create lookalikes of this audience to market to.

The point of all of this is that there are now quite a few teams of Brentford’s size and stature employing the techniques that Brentford have used on their rise to the Premier League, but they’re ten years behind.

Brentford are the 50th team to ever play in the Premier League as we know it today. That means that there are 30-odd teams who used to be in the Premier League but who aren’t anymore. Doing things ‘the old way’ or ‘how we’ve always done them’ doesn’t cut it long-term. You have to adapt (in the current climate more so than ever) and you have to think differently.

So if you’ve no idea how many people visit your website or what they type to get there, if you’ve been running ads but they’re not working in the way that you expected or if you’re wondering why your competitors, even if they’re perceived to be smaller than you, are winning all the business that you want to be winning instead, then we should talk 😊

You can book a Zoom meeting directly into my diary by clicking here: https://meetings.hubspot.com/matt1638

Or give me a buzz on 020 3131 2230 and we can have a chat over the phone – I promise I’ll only talk about Brentford a little bit. Honest.

Thanks for reading and have a great day,

Matt

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