What We Can Learn from Atlanta United’s Overnight Success
- Posted by Poston Communications
- On May 16, 2019
- American Marketing Association, Atlanta United, audience, audience research, client service, marketing, public relations, social media
If you’re in Atlanta, it’s almost impossible to miss the Atlanta United flags outside homes or bumper stickers on cars. Knowing that the brand launched just two years ago and is already a staple in Atlanta’s culture, you can’t help but wonder: How did it manage to become the most followed franchise in Major League Soccer in just two years?
On April 16, the American Marketing Association’s luncheon featured keynote speaker Catie Griggs, vice president of business operations for Atlanta United FC. Griggs discussed Atlanta United’s implementation strategy that resulted in the team’s instant rise to success. In 2018, Atlanta United became the largest soccer fan base in MLS, only two years after its first game. Griggs gave us the inside scoop into her team’s methods, including:
- Social media: Griggs and her team constantly are engaging with fans on social media platforms. Not one comment, email or direct message goes unanswered. If someone sends a direct message to one of the team’s social media platforms in the middle of a game with a complaint, a team member quickly will reply to resolve the issue, regardless of how big or small it may be. The team behind the brand puts fans at the center of everything to create a fun, memorable and high-quality experience, even on social media. Having fans know they are thought about every step of the way has created a more passionate and engaged fan base.
- Research: Before establishing Atlanta United, Griggs and her colleagues did research on every aspect of the audience and potential fan base. They knew beforehand what demographics would be supporting the team and focused their promotional efforts on targeting those individuals. The people behind the brand conducted intensive research on their target demographics for a whole year before the soccer team was created. For example, executives from Atlanta United spent their weekend mornings in Atlanta pubs doing market research with English Premier League fans (knowing they would likely be the prime supporters of the team) to get their feedback on what would make an Atlanta MLS team successful. Atlanta United was able to target the correct audience by using research from target audiences and support groups to help them figure out what fans are looking for in their game experiences and what steps to take next.
- Constant improvement: After every game, staff members from every department of the team – from janitorial to concessions to executive-level – have a meeting to discuss what went well and what didn’t during that game. They also send surveys to attendees after every game and read the feedback from each one to determine how they can improve and continually enhance their top-notch experience for fans. Griggs said the number of responses to surveys they receive ranges from 1,000 to 15,000, and they read every one because they want to take into consideration what their consumers have to say.
What sets Atlanta United apart from other MLS brands is its top-notch customer service and fan experience. No matter what, fans come first to them. They go above and beyond to cater to the needs and wants of their fans by being authentic and making it a priority to hear their feedback. Given the strategy behind its overnight success and continual effort to improve for fans, Atlanta United is certainly a brand to learn from.
Atlanta United has valuable business lessons that marketing professionals can learn from and incorporate into our day-to-day work, such as going the extra mile to exceed expectations, making research-based decisions, proactively responding to needs and providing exceptional service for our clients and their clients.
At Poston Communications, we put an emphasis on getting to know our clients and their business development goals, which includes understanding who their prospective clients are and how we can target them through public relations initiatives. Like Atlanta United, we conduct extensive research to get to know our client’s target audiences. From our research, we know exactly what outlets our clients’ targets are reading, what speaking engagements and panels they are attending, and how we can reach them through different public relations opportunities.