|Mick Hogan- CEO, Sale Sharks|
|Profile of the week|
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 11:14
Having completed a degree in Sports Studies at Northumbria University, Mick Hogan has spent his entire career in Rugby in a variety of different roles. He worked for 6 years as a Development Officer at the Rugby Football League before becoming Marketing Manager of Gateshead Thunder Super League Club. He has since held roles at Premier Rugby Ltd, Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club and Wigan Warriors before commencing his current role as CEO of Sale Sharks in June 2010.
You’ve spent your entire career in Rugby, what lessons have you learnt throughout the past 20 years or so?
If you work in a club environment or a development role where you’re effectively selling the sport, there’s two rules. One: give people a reason to come. Whether that’s to attend rugby game or come to a coaching session for the first time, become a referee or get involved as a sponsor. The second is don’t give them a reason not to come back. When you’ve done all that hard work to get someone to buy a ticket or merchandise or attend a coaching session, it’s inexcusable if you do something that was within your power where you let them down. It could be they have to turn up to a dirty seat or somebody’s rude to them or the session’s not well-planned. You’ve got to give them no reason whatsoever not to come back.
What do you find the most rewarding and enjoyable part of the role you have now as CEO of Sale?
When we win, because there’s a lot of effort that goes in through pre-season; all the recruitment, all the pre-season training. Winning games is ultimately the high point of being involved in any sports club, because it makes everybody’s job easier. The confidence of the team grows; they go into the next game with an extra spring in their step. For the off-field, it’s a bit easier to sell tickets or to sell corporate. There’s nothing better than when you’ve done a lot of work on and off the field and you’re in front of a full house or a big crowd, lots of corporate guests and sponsors there, lots of community activity before the game, after the game, and at half time. Then it all comes together on the day, you put on a great show for the crowd and win the game.
Conversely, what is the most difficult or challenging aspect of your job?
It’s particularly challenging at the minute with the current economic climate to get people to part with their hard-earned cash, because attending professional sport is not a necessity in life. What we’re trying to do is convince them that it is a big part of their lives, and that it can really enhance your weekend. We’re all disappointed when the team lose, but it’s perhaps when all the hard work we put in for a game or an event doesn’t quite manifest itself in a big enough attendance . Off the field we take great pride in what we do, when it can’t be a big success, for whatever reason, it’s very disappointing.
In the current economic climate, do you feel you have to be more creative and more detailed in your approach to attracting people to the games and encouraging them to spend their money on supporting the club?
The basic principles don’t change. We’ve got to work even harder through our community work, make sure that’s absolutely top quality. If we do it will lead to group sales from clubs, schools, charities and businesses. It means that we have to be a bit cuter on PR to get the column inches in the newspaper, because perhaps the budgets that have aren’t quite as great as previous years. Therefore there’s less money for advertising so there’s more of a reliance on PR. It definitely means you’ve got to get a lot more targeted as well; we aim to do that anyway whether the economy is good or bad because it’s very easy to spend a lot of money and actually get no reach. We know where our fans our coming from or are likely to be coming from and it’s up to us to make sure that we’re targeted and get the message over to them.
Are the majority of fans that you can target located in the North West of England, or do you also aim nationally and internationally?
Like all clubs, we want a national and international profile and that can result in one or two orders over the internet for shirts. It does no harm for our sponsorship values as well, but ultimately we’re a North West team. We’re the only professional Rugby Union club in the North West of England, so that’s the area we need to service well. There’s over 10 million people living in the North West of England and we only need a small percentage of them to actively get involved with Sale Sharks and we’ll hit all our targets if we do that.