Brands and advertisers dream of having a built-in audience that voluntarily answers research questions and relates exactly what they want.  Thanks to a pioneering platform created by the South African weekly publication Soccer Laduma – known as the Supporters Club – this is no longer just an empty aspiration.

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The Soccer Laduma Supporters Club was created in response to fan’s pleas for a platform to express themselves, as they increasingly felt alienated from the sport they loved. It also provides football fans with a collective voice, reports editorial director of Soccer Laduma, Peter du Toit, in order to engage with footballing and government bodies regarding problems and developments within the game, as well as serving as a continuous research tool on consumer trends.

“Importantly, the supporters become their own research mechanism, because there is a wealth of information and data behind fans,” Du Toit confirms. “Membership is voluntary and because we already have a relationship of trust built with fans over 18 years, they volunteer critical information in surveys – also effectively making them members of the editorial team as they tell the publication exactly what content they want to read.”

The data mined from members is a valuable resource for advertisers. Brands become ‘sponsors’ of the Supporters Club, which allows them access to the data mined from Club members. Sponsors are able to engage with the members on a weekly basis both through the branches and online, which facilitates sponsor aims via research, activations, lead generation, sales and joint ventures.

The Soccer Laduma Supporters Club offers a symbiotic relationship as members are able to communicate exactly what they want from their brands, while advertisers gain access to quick and accurate consumer insights. “The more information members make available, the greater value they have to advertisers. Likewise brands have access to business intelligence that they can’t get elsewhere,” contends Du Toit.

Officially launched at the beginning of March, the Soccer Laduma Supporters Club has been in incubation for the past few years and was soft launched in November last year, with 30 000 members joining the platform. The target is to increase membership to up to 150 000 across 700 branches by the end of September this year.

“We’ve taken the reader/publication relationship to a deeper level,” Du Toit reveals. “Our success is based on the philosophy of leveraging the close relationship we have with our readers and members by placing brands in the market they’re advertising to, and turning data into sales and marketing opportunities for brands.”

This article was originally published on The Red Zone

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