Our attention turns to the Premier League for our latest Industry Insider as Southampton’s Marketing Executive, Tom Bonnett takes us through his role!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Tom Bonnett, I’m 23 years old, and I’m a Marketing Executive at Southampton Football Club.
Prior to this role, I started out my career as a National Reporter at Solent News & Photo Agency, followed by an 18-month stint as Marketing and Communications Officer for Surrey Scorchers and Surrey Storm, who compete in the British Basketball League and Vitality Netball Superleague respectively.
What do you do in your current role?
In my current role, I work as part of the wider Commercial Marketing team to deliver ticketing, hospitality, retail and football development campaigns. This includes supporting with our annual kit and season ticket launches.
Much of my time is spent working with our Design, CRM, Performance Marketing, and Social teams to ensure we are delivering campaigns to the highest level. I like to think of myself as a middle-man linking the food chain together, starting with campaign ideation, through to development, before sharing all of the required assets and information with our specialist teams to implement across their channel of expertise.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
During the season, my week looks as follows:
On Monday and Tuesday, we will sit in Trading Meetings with various departments and external stakeholders, reviewing the previous week of sales, and looking ahead to the upcoming week. This is particularly important when we have a home match taking place at the weekend. We will determine key actions for the week to ensure we are prepared for the next fixture from a Commercial standpoint.
The Marketing Team will also meet as an entirety on a Tuesday to discuss and assess ongoing campaigns, and to plan for the future. At the end of this meeting, we also open the floor for any member of the team to share ‘Things that we’ve seen that we’ve liked’. This allows us to appreciate successful or innovative campaigns from other clubs, sports or industries.
For the remainder of the week, we will action the points risen from the meetings earlier in the week. I will also work with my Manager and the rest of the Commercial Marketing team to begin strategizing for future campaigns.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I know it’s cliché, but I genuinely have wanted to work in sports, particularly in sports journalism, since I was very young. When I was a child, I was set on becoming a Sky Sports News presenter in the future!
When I completed my A Levels in 2017, I opted not to go to University, and instead complete an NCTJ Journalism Diploma. Alongside this one-year course, I was undertaking weekly work experience with the Portsmouth News Sports Desk, Surrey Scorchers, a basketball team in the British Basketball League that I grew up supporting, as well as reporting on the team for the local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser. I also completed work experience with Solent News, a National News Agency, based in Southampton.
Following the completion of my NCTJ diploma, Solent News took me on as a Reporter, and I worked there for 18 months. A position then became available to be a full-time Marketing and Communications Officer for Surrey Scorchers and Surrey Storm, based at Surrey Sports Park. Thankfully, my work experience stint with the Scorchers two years prior helped to get me in the door. Therefore, I had never planned to work in Marketing, I naturally made the switch from Journalism when an opportunity became available.
Following 18 months working for Scorchers and Storm (during the pandemic for the majority), an opportunity became available to join the Commercial Marketing team at Southampton. As soon as I saw the job advert, I knew it was a fantastic opportunity that I believed I just had to apply for. Thankfully, I was successful and am really enjoying working for a Premier League football club.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
I think it can be easy to forget that every Season Ticket holder, shirt buyer, are not just ‘customers’, they are supporters of THEIR club.
For me, I do everything I can to ensure the supporters of Southampton Football Club are at the forefront of our Marketing campaigns. I am nothing more than a custodian for the club, and I try to do what is right for the supporters. I would expect the same from the Marketing team at Cambridge United, the club I support, so why would I do anything different for the Saints supporters?
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
During my time at Surrey Scorchers and Surrey Storm, I made a habit of taking the wins and losses really personally. A lot of this came down to the fact I was a Scorchers fan before I worked for the team. As a result of this, I would get bogged down in the results, and my Marketing delivery, particularly after a loss, would not be as strong as it could have been. I would sometimes become lazy with my Match reports, or my social media output across our channels.
Throughout my career so far, I’ve been working hard to improve this, and keep a level head as much as I can, never too high, never too low.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
For my colleagues and friends who know me, they’ll know I’m a huge advocate for TikTok. It has been the first time I’ve seen a huge shift in the Social Media space since I’ve been in the sports industry. It excites me when we discuss TikTok in the office, and how we can use this platform to deliver successful marketing campaigns to our younger supporters.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I’m thankful that this hasn’t happened to myself during my career so far, but it frustrates me seeing Job Adverts for Marketing and Media jobs in the football industry that are majorly underpaid. There are only limited jobs in this field, and a huge cohort of applicants vying for each position, and I believe this is sometimes taken advantage of.
Thankfully, we are incredibly well looked after at Saints, but unfortunately this isn’t the same for every club.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Work experience is the key. However, it’s important to understand that the major sports are not going to take anyone and everyone under their wing to undertake work experience. Its important to find lesser-worn paths that will give you the most exposure.
For example, I was completing work experience in the British Basketball League with the Surrey Scorchers, which is a team that would always welcome an extra pair of hands on matchdays. During my tenure with them, I noticed the local newspaper, Surrey Advertiser, was not reporting on the team. Therefore I reached out to them and offered to write match reports after each match, and they welcomed this with open arms!
Rather than emailing or contacting Premier League/EFL football teams, I opted to gain valuable experience in a lower level sport where I would gain meaningful experience. This also resulted in me landing a permanent job at the Scorchers 2 years later.
The more experience you can get under your belt, the better, as you never know which doors might open again for you in the future.
How to connect with Tom Bonnett…
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Tom Bonnett! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.