Saints and the ‘Tipping Point’


Click here for St.Johnstone Season Ticket details for 2012/2013

During my time working in China I ran a fabulous bar and restaurant complex (Sasha’s – if your ever in Shanghai pay it a visit (website here).  One of the promotions we ran was a ‘Cheese and Wine Buffet’ every Friday evening.  It was a fabulous deal – 150rmb (that’s about 10quid in real money) got  you as much wine as you could drink in 5 hours and as much cheese as you eat.   Now, usually these deals have wine so acidic and rancid you wouldn’t manage more than 2 glasses, but here we had wines which would ordinarily retail at 20 – 30quid a bottle (I’m very persuasive when it comes to suppliers!) and the finest cheeses you could buy in Shanghai (admittedly, that’s not saying much, but they were expensive… again, I’m good with suppliers – we didn’t run this at much of a loss J )

But hang on… this is a football blog, not one about fine wine (actually, there’s an idea…), so what the hell am I rabbiting on about?

Well, like Saints recent season ticket announcement this was an amazing deal.  For Saints free entrance for under 12’s, take our 5 hours of free flow wine.  For the 150GBP student ticket take our all you can stuff your face with cheese deal.  For the moving fans to the West Stand take our ex-Serbian Special forces bouncer… all fabulous deals.

However, there was a problem, and that was getting the message out there.  We initially decided that it was such a fantastic deal, there was no point in advertising it other than in-house.  People would see the deal and come in their hundreds…  except, they didn’t.  For 2 years.  We were loath to advertise it in the press as we didn’t really want to spend advertising (red)bucks on a loss leader and when we ‘persuaded’ the press to write about us, we preferred they wrote about how fabulous the manager was, or even about the best Steaks in Shanghai we used to serve in the second floor restaurant.

Five years on, the restaurant is still going strong, and the Friday night cheese and wine buffet is a roaring success.  Why?  No, they didn’t advertise, but word of mouth took over finally and the night reached its ‘Tipping Point’

For any of you who haven’t read this book (Malcom Gladwell) , I suggest you do so now.  It’s a phrase used in the marketing and advertising world to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a product suddenly launches into the mainstream.  The first example in the book is one of Hush Puppies, which for years was a niche product from the New York Bronx.  One day though, the product was picked up from a customer from another state and was brought to the mid west.  Suddenly, the product was big all over the USA, and the Tipping Point had been reached.

Coming back to Saints, this is their current dilemma – how to make their product reach its tipping point.  The deal is fantastic and better than any other club in the UK (click the link and go to May 7th) – maybe even Europe – is currently offering.  But can they really keep this going for 5 years plus until it meets its tipping point, or do they need to get out there and make it happen?

The launch of this deal was terrible – a statement on the website.  This should have been a huge press conference – maybe even through in Glasgow – wining and dining the MSM (mass Scottish media – I probably need to start an acronym dictionary don’t I?), with maybe my ‘Cheese and Wine Buffet’.  It shouldn’t have been done on the Eve of the European Championships – really, who is going to write about Saints (apart from me…) on a day when the biggest football event in 2 years is happening?  We also have the wonderful news of Rangers ready to enter liquidation and the fact they are going to sign Rino Gattuso at the same time… unless we were signing 11 ex-Rangers players nothing we were doing was going to make the back pages.

The point I’m trying to make is that regardless of what Saints offer, unless they get the message out there, the tipping point is not going to be reached.  The two things I have complained about with Saints since I started supporting was not listening to the fans and communicating properly.  It finally seems Steve Brown is listening… now they just need to learn the communication bit… We need to get the message into the arms of the right people – the people who will shout it from the rooftops and help us meet the Tipping Point.

So, as Saints aren’t going to do it, I’m going to start spreading the message, and ask that you all follow me.   We need to get the message out to the connectors, the mavens and the salesman.

Tell everyone you know, football fan or otherwise – Watching St.Johnstone next season will be FREE for under 12’s.  Grannies and Grandad’s of the world – it will cost you just 150GBP to take yourself and TWO of your grandchildren to watch the Super  Saintee’s next season.

Tell me where else you can a good afternoon out so cheaply…

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