Brand it like Becks

September 10, 2004

The bulging pay packets of Premiership footballers and the wheeler-dealing of managers in the transfer market may seem a world away from university life.

But this week academics and university administrators were given an internet marketing masterclass by Manchester United.

Vange Kourentis, marketing manager of Manchester United Interactive, told a conference at Hertfordshire University how technology could be used to develop a brand and interact with "customers".

The three-day conference, organised by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, focused on university marketing, public relations and alumni fundraising.

Mr Kourentis said that although football and higher education were at "different ends of the industry spectrum", there were marketing principles common to both.

"The message is customer focus - getting back to knowing who your customers are, where they are, and what they want," he said.

"If we have 71 million fans across the world from different countries and cultures, ages and backgrounds, we have got to produce services that all of that audience can buy into."

Mr Kourentis added that finding the right "tone of voice" for communicating over the internet with customers and fans - or students in the case of higher education - was essential.

The football club sent a monthly e-zine (electronic magazine) to fans over the internet - reinforcing the brand and allowing readers to interact with the club, he said.

"We were quite rigid in our views until we decided to focus on new technologies, and being creative in that space allows you to differentiate yourself."

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