What can Notts County teach us about driving engagement with reports?

Our business development manager, Dan Atkinson, thinks we could all learn a lesson from his favourite football team

Bear with me, this isn't a blog about football. I’m using Notts County as a metaphor, as I did with ice hockey in the last one. I have very few frames of references which aren't sport.

For those who don't know, Notts County is the world's oldest professional football team (and my first love). In recent years the team has fallen on tough times. In the fourth tier of English football, last year they finished only a few places away from relegation from the league.

Off the field things have been worse: a take over involving an alleged conman, winding up orders and alleged death threats from fans to owners. It's been a sorry time, attendances have dropped and therefore so has revenue.

But this season has seen a change. Under new ownership and new management, the club seems revitalised. They are one of the favourites for promotion and are even playing some good football.

This improvement in form is equivalent to your research findings. It’s great, it's important – but the only people who know about it are a small group of individuals. In Notts County's case, the few poor fools with season tickets.

And in your case, the few people working closely in your sector who read your reports. That's not good enough. You need to get more people to engage with your reports, and the findings they contain.

In football, the things that stop ’audiences’ (or fans) watching games is:

1. The cost of tickets.
2. The fear of it being a rubbish match.

The way to encourage audiences is to reduce their barrier to entry. Last weekend, Notts County reduced ticket prices from £20 to £2, and sold out the entire stadium for the first time in over 20 years. The 18,000 who went to the match were treated to a cracking 4-1 victory to Notts County. I'm sure many of those fans will return.

So to reduce the barrier to their audience, Notts County invested in ticket subsidies.

What does this mean to you?

Well, the two barriers of entry to someone reading your report are:

1. It’s long and it will take ages to read.
2. Someone’s perception that it might not be worth the read.

So how do you reduce the barriers to entry?

In the same way Notts County invested in ticket subsidies, you could invest in some enticing digital content – such as video. By creating a short animation – which is far easier to engage with than a PDF or printed document – you will reduce that barrier.

Films and animations can be set to autoplay, so your audience is watching before they know it.

And they hold engagement; on Facebook video content generates 40% more gaze time than text-based content, while elsewhere the average two-minute video retains over 70% of its viewers until the end.

You just need to make sure its short, engaging and ensure it communicates your message.

Senate Media can help with that.

I just wish helping Notts County get promoted was that easy.

Dan Atkinson
By Dan Atkinson