Liverpool's greatest marketing tool
Those who know me well, know I'm a die-hard Liverpool supporter.
From the heydays of Dalglish, Rush, Whelan and Grobbelaar through to Istanbul glory with Gerrard, Dudek and Hyppia, to present day heroes of Salah and Van Dijk I have cheered, cried and screamed (in equal measure) watching all of their wins and defeats.
After many turbulent years, Jurgen Klopp is now at the helm and it's clear there has been a change in approach and culture which has thankfully resonated on the haloed Anfield turf.
Klopp is a breath of fresh air with his style being one of collaboration, inspiration and essentially belief in his team. I believe in business we too can draw inspiration from his approach which has seen him become the driver of a very successful marketing campaign for Liverpool Football Club.
How has he achieved this?
Motivation: Klopp describes himself as having "a helping syndrome" – he wants to help others, to help his players to be the best they can be, to encourage and to nurture. He also believes that his success is "30% tactic, 70% team building".
Klopp is quoted as saying, "My colleagues and I are no magicians. We cannot make good players out of bad players. Or very good or excellent. We can't do that. The first point is to get the right players, try to recognise the potential, try to develop it and turn it into skills with the help of everyone involved. That's the most important thing. That's how you can find success somehow."
Mirroring that approach, a partner in a professional services firm was recently talking to me about how they viewed their role: "I'm not here for me, I'm here to train the next breed of management."
Challenging: He challenges his players to step out of their comfort zone, to overcome the biggest of hurdles, to run further, run faster. Somewhat tongue in cheek, he has spoken of his dismay at today's modern, uber-wealthy footballers - "It doesn't make it any easier to run your heart out when you've just woken up in a five-star hotel. Too much comfort makes you comfortable." He apparently challenges those comfort zones with unusual pre-season trips. Rumour has it one trip was to a Swedish lake with no electricity for five days!!.
Not meeting a challenge is seen as an opportunity - "Each missed chance is not a failure, it is information - use it and go again.” By getting the best out of his players he has earned their respect. Cutting the electricity is likely an extreme in a business setting but pushing teams to challenge the norm, strive for better is never not worth the effort.
Communication: Klopp is very engaging in this post-match interviews. Unlikely some managers who look distinctly uncomfortable under the gaze of TV pundits and who ensure interviews are as short as possible, he's relaxed, he goes into detail, tells it like it is. He is very balanced in his analysis and honest – when asked if he could put his finger on what had gone wrong for his team following a Champions League defeat in Belgrade his response was "I only have 10 fingers." But always the message is clear, consistent and generally upbeat knowing his players, the fans and the club's opponents are watching. He won't publicly criticise a player's error or poor performance - just describing it as "not his day". Backing your team but being willing to give constructive feedback in the right setting goes a long way to ensuring commitment and motivation.
Professionalism: Klopp displays great sportsmanship – making a point of shaking hands and commiserating/congratulating every player on the pitch – his own and the opponents. Praising opponents both before and after matches in media interviews. (His one slip admittedly was him running on to the pitch to celebrate a goal against neighbours Everton. We'll put that down to the next point….Passion!).
Passion & Belief: "You can speak about spirit, or you can live it." Klopp believes in the club. He believes they can become Premier League Champions. He believed Barcelona could be defeated in the Champions League semi-final second leg despite trailing 3-0. In all his dealing he demonstrates that belief – that confidence permeates down through the team, through to the backroom staff and ultimately to the fans. Look at his reaction to a goal and his engagement with the Kop after the final whistle of every home game. “I show my team very often Barcelona but not the way they play. Just the way they celebrate goals. Goal number 5768 in the last few weeks and they go ‘Yeeeess’ like they never scored a goal." Belief starts comes from the top down and celebrating the victories, no matter how small, goes a long way to achieving the ultimate goal.
Following that sensational Champions League defeat of Barcelona earlier this month, the infamous Jose Mourinho said: "I have to say this remontada (comeback) has one name, Jurgen. I think this was not about tactics or philosophy but heart and soul and empathy that he created with this group of players." That speaks volumes coming from a man with a reputation like Mourinho.
Jurgen Klopp is probably the greatest marketing tool the club has had in many years – creating a great product (the squad), meeting the needs of the target market (fans and owners who have so desperately waited for the good times to return) and enticing a new customer base including a new generation of fans and access to lucrative TV and sponsorship opportunities.
Let's hope in Madrid on 1 June we can see my team close out the 2018/2019 season by lifting the Champions League trophy. #YNWA