In our latest Industry Insider we head to the world of rugby league as we sit down with Liam Brown, Marketing Manager for the Warrington Wolves!

Liam Brown

Tell us about yourself, what do you do in your current role and what roles have you done previously?

I came quite late to sports marketing – I’d been a DJ for most of my life before that. DJs tend to make good marketers because the fundamental skill is the same, both are about understanding people and creating a mood, whether your tool is a record or a social media post, what underpins it is the same.

The marketing side came in from promoting nightclubs and every other Saturday you can find me playing the music and doing the Stadium announcing for Wigan Athletic, so there’s the sport link!

I did two years at Manchester Giants as marketing manager, where we did some brilliant stuff, it was a tough sell to give up so much time alongside a full-time job initially, especially when you’re in your mid 30s with two kids, but every project you do goes into your portfolio and your body of work grows until it can’t be ignored.

At Warrington Wolves my main roles are promoting tickets/memberships and the Warrington Wolves brand, the role is ever evolving and we see ourselves more as a marketing resource for every department at the club.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Story-telling, office hype-man. (I’ve rinsed those hyphens for everything that they are worth haven’t I?)

“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you? 

The week always starts with a team meeting with our CEO Karl Fitzpatrick, this is where we review upcoming plans, games, memberships and media activity are the usual focus.

Karl’s great and sets the vision for the club, so it’s easy for us to run with things without constantly going back for sign off. He’s also brilliant at holding us accountable for what we’ve said we’ll do, that meeting in the calendar on a Monday keeps us focused on the most important things.

Straight from there, myself, our media manager Adam Leah and content creator Joe Richardson sit down and review last week’s social media scores, on going projects and plan the week out.

After that the week could take us anywhere – shoot days could have us on location or the training ground, and the types of work could move between being highly creative to being deeply analytical.

Games bring a load of work with them from making sure your advertising assets are upto date to whatever entertainment you have on. Last year we built a stage so we could have The Lathums for the home opener – I spent months upto my eyeballs in CAD drawings then on the day the power feeds to the stage were affecting Sky’s cables and distorting the picture and everything had to be rerouted. I’ve still not de-stressed from that day.

How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

I started in sport the same way I started in music, going and asking someone can I help out – you learn so much being inside the tent that you’re missing out on waiting on an opportunity to fall in your lap. A famous DJ told me when I was starting out that “You can be the best in the world, but no one is gonna discover you in your bedroom so you need to get out there and make some noise.”

I was lucky at Manchester Giants that I was working with Jamie Edwards, he’s a mental performance coach to some top athletes and I learned a lot about having a vision, dealing with people and communicating.

Karl was huge for me, I know I probably wasn’t the most qualified for the job, but he could see I would do whatever it takes and allowed me the time to get upto speed when I started.

Back in the day I did the music for Wigan Warriors at their games and worked under their marketing director, Simon Collinson. I admired him and everything he did – he’s a massive source of inspiration to this day and I rarely do anything big without running it by him first, even now! Seeing the way he looked at the job made me fall in love with it.

liam brown

What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?

Being authentic – I want everything we do to be recognisably authentic to the club and the fans. The club staff is chock full of supporters and that’s important – they are an important filter before anything goes out.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

James Ruth is the VP of marketing at Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we were lucky enough to get him on a zoom call when he was at Austin FC in the MLS – one line from the conversation stood out – “We’re not selling crackers here, we’re storytellers” and that’s important – we’re showing what it means to be a Wire. Marketing isn’t posting ticket links – it’s saying this is who we are and this is what we do, do that well enough and they will find your ticketing site.

What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

Rugby League is going through a time of transformation, and there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that will start to bear fruit soon, we can see what the NRL has achieved in Aus and I really believe that’s where we can go in the UK.

If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?

I’d add a bit of positivity – we have an amazing product and we’re doing the right things, clubs that have been stale for a long time are investing heavily off the field. We need to stop being so humble about ourselves and shout about it.

Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?

Tramadol. Going for a coffee and reading the paper. What a sad little life Jane.

Liam Brown

If you were to give a piece of advice to someone wanting to do your role, what would you say?

Make sure people are comfortable being honest with you, seek feedback – if someone says they don’t like your idea it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. There must be loads of ideas that go out and bomb because someone either doesn’t ask for opinions or they aren’t approachable enough for someone to talk to.

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