The Seattle Sounders soccer club were made a professional club in 2007 after 33 years as a semi-professional team. The move from semi-pro to MLS required substantial marketing and business development to expand the fan base and acquire new customers to fill the thousands of seats in CenturyLink Field.
Since the initial marketing effort, the club has utilized both traditional marketing channels and digital media. Several successful media campaigns by Wexley School for Girls, such as “Full 90” and “Date with a Sounder” have utilized traditional channels like TV, radio and print. Additionally, the Sounders have an established social media presence and have used targeted emailing and affiliate partnerships to broaden the reach of their marketing campaigns.
Initially, the Sounders’ campaigns were geared much more toward customers at the top of funnel as the club sought to sell out matches. However, more recent campaigns seem to be equally oriented toward acquiring new customers as well as maintaining existing customers. Renewing season ticket holders is a large part of the Sounders business model and is likely well-served by some of the organization’s targeted marketing efforts. Acquiring new customers seems to be the focus of the organization’s broad reaching, traditional marketing efforts.
The Sounders have set the bar very high in successfully marketing the club to the greater Seattle area and have established a strong community presence and brand image. The team has been the MLS standard bearer in terms of attendance all five years in the league. In 2013, the average attendance was over 44,000 fans.