In regards to most ventures, but specifically anything business related I fully believe in branding. There’s a reason why business employees wear branded shirts; why sports companies fight over teams to wear their products exclusively. They want their brand and message out there to the masses. Companies are looking for buying power, and ideally brand loyalty. The same thing goes to teams at all levels of competition. However, I’m astonished in the Floorball world at how few clubs, especially at the highest levels in Sweden and Finland don’t have any merchandise. They’re missing out, and they should be working to change that. Some are doing a good job of that specifically, Storvreta IBK, FC Helsingbord, IBF Falun, and Classic (FIN). While these teams are the top tier of their respective leagues the vast majority of clubs don’t at least have anything online available related to merchandise from what I can find.
Growing up Soccer was just starting to hit its stride. Back then you didn’t see much TV coverage unless it was a World Cup match. However, every now and then on a Saturday I’d be able to catch an English Premier League game running. As a kid I was drawn to those games. The MLS was still in its infancy and games didn’t garner much of a TV audience. I was hooked, and thinking back at time I became an Arsenal fan, because that’s who was being shown. I became as best a follower as I could at the time because the technology of today wasn’t really there as it is today. From half way around the world I was a fan of a team I wouldn’t actually have an opportunity to see play in person for at least another 15 years. I remember asking for Christmas to get a David Bergkamp jersey, and low and behold it was there that year. I know it was a challenge to find it, but needless to say it happened. I still have that jersey to this day. You can’t tell me that with Floorball games being broadcast live online to world that clubs couldn’t capitalize on attracting a worldwide fan base.
Putting aside team preferences and whether or not you like a team or not, the focus is that there is market to promote your brand. While in many cases you may need to invest in the material and have things designed the return can outweigh the cost. A simple google search will bring up any number of companies who can design, print, and ship apparel while hosting an official store for you with little to no cost on your part. While you share the profits your overall risk is fairly low, and a good way to start. As an example I’ll use the Fresno Floorball Club out of Fresno California. They have a well-established adult Floorball league. Frankly they have a good looking logo for it. As a means to promote their brand and get more overall engagement they could host a league store. While they have an adult league, if they added youth apparel, and added Floorball clinics for kids they could possibly spawn a youth league from that. As those kids move through the youth league they’ll trickle into the adult league potentially growing their overall engagement. More engagement means more buying power, which potentially leads to more sponsors looking to reach specific demographics. It’s not so farfetched and I’m hoping they’re reading this and if they’re not doing it already, will start to consider it.
If anything is taken from this week’s article is that merchandise matters. It’s your brand, and if you can do something to connect people to it you will see a return on that investment in some for in the future.