Episode 013 - Carly Carmichael - Rolling Up Sleeves and Kicking Goals - NOT The Rob Bell Podcast | Limeworks

Episode 013 - Carly Carmichael

Rolling Up Sleeves and Kicking Goals

How Carly Carmichael followed her dreams to help the Central Coast Mariners kick goals.

Carly Carmichael is Marketing Manager for Central Coast Mariners Football Club. She took an unconventional route to her role, but importantly, isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and get the job done.

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Carly Carmichael is Marketing Manager for Central Coast Mariners Football Club. She took an unconventional route to her role, but importantly, isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and get the job done. 

We talk about the challenges of marketing a regional sporting club, expectations vs reality, the Usain Bolt experience and the PR boost for the club, and so much more. 

Website: https://www.ccmariners.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CCMariners
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CCMariners/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccmariners

Transcription

Please note, while an effort is made to provide an accurate transcription, errors and omissions may be present. No part of this transcription can be referenced or reproduced without permission.

Rob: All right, So Carly Carmichael from Central Coast Mariners, thank you so much for coming today and having a chat.

Carly: No. Thank you so much for having me.

Rob: It's really good to have you here. And obviously there's a little bit of a challenge going on in the football leagues at the moment with Covid and everything that's going on. We don't want to cover that too much today. We'll probably get into it a little bit. But really, I want to learn a bit about yourself first. Obviously, you're marketing and communications manager over there. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to work for the Mariners? And because I think there's an interesting story there.

Carly: Yes. So I didn't really get into the position by the traditional, you know, go to uni for a few years and then, you know, apply for jobs. I was actually working the local radio station in sponsorship and promotions. I'd been there for probably about four years. I really loved the people there. It was great environment. But radio is one of those industries I feel that you really have to be passionate about to continue in. And I kind of felt bad that there's all these people that were so desperate to get into the industry that I felt like, you know, these probably these people probably deserved the role more than I did. So I actually knew the commercial manager at the Mariners because obviously I was working on the sponsorship with the Mariners from the radio stations side, spoke to him about it. And he said, unfortunately, we don't have any positions going. But if you want some experience, you welcome to come in and volunteer. So I quit my job at the radio. I moved back home with my parents to save some money.

Rob: Bold move.

Carly: Yes, pretty good when your 20 something. It's a big change. And then, yeah, so worked in a bar at night and worked at the Mariners during the day just to get that experience. Thankfully, after a little while, they offered me a paid position and then worked my way up from there.

Rob: Wow. And so that relationship that you founded through the sponsorship division at at the radio station. Do you think that kind of gave you an edge to, you know, to get in could it would have been fairly early stage for mariners back then again. Like do you when did Mariners first kick off to the coast. And you know how's that evolved since that point.

Carly: Yes, the Mariners had been around for probably about five or six years before I started working there. Before that, I was on those crazy fans that would take my weekly income and use it travelling around Australia, watching them play around, which was really fantastic. So it's kind of good that I've have that. That angle of the fan as well as someone who is an employee. Yeah, it was. When I look back on it, I feel like it's very bold of me to just try and make that jump. But I mean, I've always been passionate about sport and especially playing in sport. I understand sort of what that real community feel is to be involved in something that's just it makes you feel like you're part of the family. And I just really wanted to be a part of that.

Rob: It's really cool, and I think you have to have that passion to do anything, especially to take a leap of faith and basically quit your job and take a total punt. And so how did that evolution come about? When was that point where you'd gone from basically volunteering and that little that first little opportunity came out of that, and you knew that that was sort of the right decision?

Carly: Yeah, I mean first of all, they just offered me some casual work and I just jumped at the chance because of like I've got my foot in the door now. This is where I wanted to be. So I made sure that, you know, there were some nights we were back there working until 2:00 a.m., packing jerseys and things like that to send off for merchandise. And and all of that. So putting in those really hard hours, you sort of it felt like it was my reward that I finally got what I deserved. And then. Yeah. Then from then on, I got offered a full time position and I'd worked it a couple of different areas around the club, doing a little bit of corporate hospitality, little bit of membership, and then fan engagement marketing, which is where I really started off. So moving from there, sort of done a few different departments, got a lot of experience, which really does help me in that marketing role because I kind of understand now what each department really needs and and how I can make sure that we can market them. Cause they're all very, very different needs.

Rob: Yeah. And obviously, there's quite a lot to be said for that first hand experience in seeing what the fans need or being a fan yourself, seeing what the corporate hospitality clients expect. And cause there aren't a lot of moving parts. But and I think when we when we think around sporting teams and the corporate side of that, as in the corporate side working for those teams, we probably have a perception of a really huge workforce. But it sounds like the reality is probably a little bit different.

Carly: Yes. So it's bigger now than when I started working there. We only had a handful of staff, but now looking at it in the office, we would probably have about 10 to 11 people. And that's across our community department, marketing, media, commercial. We've also got a foundation as well where we raise money to help young footballers progress their career. So everyone sort of. And then also membership as well. Sorry. So in that key admin staff full time is probably only about ten or eleven. So when you compare that to a lot of the other A-League clubs, we are quiet small.

Rob: And so I think obviously there's we know that that Mariners is a little bit smaller than some of the A-League clubs. But then how does that factor in say size scale against mainstream football? You know, like rugby or, you know, Aussie Rules.

Carly: Yeah, well the comparison is NRL and AFL have got some huge, huge staff numbers. I had a friend that worked in AFL and she told me the number of membership staff they had working, and he compared that to our one that we have. Obviously, our membership numbers are a lot smaller. But at their stage, you know, they weren't. It was only a relatively new AFL club. So the numbers weren't massive. Not like Sydney Swans were there at forty thousand plus. But you still go. You go, 8 or 9 people working in a AFL membership. You compare that to our one who you know well, he does membership is still also doing a lot of our administration work, bringing on our volunteers and training them up. And everyone at the club has more than one role. It's sort of you have to do what comes to you, I guess. Right now, Corona Virus is the best example I can give. So unfortunately, we're down to skeleton staff. We had to stand down quite a lot of staff. There's probably only about four or five of us still working at the moment. So between myself and our media manager, we've also taken on a little bit of graphic design. We've also had to take on all the other administration work coming through, just the general emails, that are coming through, phone calls, even down to sort of like doing cleaning around the office and all of that, our commercial guy, he's also now doing membership. He's also now delivering, you know, little hoodie packs to some of our older members who just need a little bit more assistance during this time. So it's everyone is having to do, you know, two or three different roles. But everyone's just getting stuck in and getting it done, because that's the way that we've always worked. And I kind of feel like the Mariners are probably the best club prepared for Corona Virus because we are use to working with limited resources and we use to just getting stuck in and getting it done.

Rob: And making that dollar go further.

Carly: Yeah exactly.

Rob: So how do you find that you need to sort of challenge perception, say, when you take on a sponsor or you someone approaches you for support? You know what aspects of their perception of the Mariners as a club do you think misconceived when they think that it's this massive commercial giant, like some of the bigger clubs?

Carly: Yeah, I mean. We are a small club compared to the others in the A-League. But that also gives us so many more benefits than others. We work really closely with the twenty three or now twenty four local clubs on the Central Coast. Whereas you look at someone like Sydney FC or Western Sydney Wanderers, they have so many local clubs that fall under their districts, they need to maintain a relationship and make sure that they have that, you know, that one on one feel with them. Whereas we've got the 24. We actually have an ambassador from every single club who we contact regularly and say these are our programs. How can we help you? How can we help your club grow? What do you need from us? They also come to us and ask things like player appearances or jerseys that they can use as fundraising items. So we do have that really good relationship. That's a huge benefit for us. That the community feel as well is also a big drawcard for us. Masterfoods, who's been a sponsor from day one, they're the best example that we could really have because they employ a lot of local people. They are Central Coast. They are so passionate about the coast. So for them that really, you know, warm, close feeling that they have with the Mariners is exactly what works so well and what we were able to sort of take this partnership to now we are best known for our sauce bottles next to the palm trees and the sauce bottle blimp and the tomato sauce mascot that you see on match day. We've sort of been able to, you know, take this local partnership and really blow it up to something that some that's spoken about across the league.

Rob: And I suppose that represents the importance of those long term sponsorships. And while there's certainly factors outside of that that we can't control, such as COVID, which is going on right now. How do you go about managing those partnerships and trying to strike the balance between providing value for them back, but also getting that support that you need?

Carly: Yeah, well, I guess at the moment in a lot of our partners contracts, we've got things that happen on game day. Right now, we can't deliver those. So that's actually how we came up with Mariners TV, which is a live program, we've been running on Facebook every fortnight. We've spoken about Mariners TV for as long as I can remember at the club. We've always wanted to do it. It's sort of been a little dream of ours that, you know, we would be able to have these nice behind the scenes things without players and really be able to commercialise it. We've never had the resources or the time or anything like that. Now, we had to go. Well, we still don't have the resources. So we've got more time. So let's just get it done. So we've had to sort of. Yeah, with our first episode we actually opened with this is actually for our sponsors. We are doing it to thank them because during this time they're still sticking by us and they're still supporting us. So we need to do this to thank our sponsors. And we actually got a really good reception and our members and fans understood that because without the sponsors, the club wouldn't survive. So, yeah. And so from then on, obviously, the next few episodes we've managed to, you know, bring them in. One of our sponsors MATE give us some Xbox's to giveaway. Fruit For All, who is actually one of our local sponsors, they've been with us since day one. They sponsored because they were fans, their massive football fans. They and that passion is what's kept them as part of our Mariners family. So, you know, they donated fruit that we've been delivering to people and putting on to that Mariners TV as well. So, yeah, we've had to do things differently. But yeah the sponsors have been fantastic during this time and, you know, we couldn't do it without them. So.

Rob: Were you. Was there anything surprising around engagement when you first put out those first few episodes? You know, was it, I don't know, I mean, you're laughing so there must have been something interesting that happened.

Carly: I didn't really think that I would be on Mariners TV, as I mentioned to you before. I am very much a background person. I sort of prefer to sort of stay out, well, yeah, this is a whole other thing. Oh yeah I do much prefer to sort of stay in the background. And you can even ask our old media manager if he took any photos and I was in them. They had to be deleted. Yeah. So, I was like I don't know. I just hope some, I hope some people watch it for the sake of all our sponsors and what we're trying to do. I just don't know if people are going to be interested it, but we're watching the numbers grow and grow each week. And, you know, it's really it's really warming to say with such a getting such a good response. And Mariners members and fans are actually finding us on Facebook and sending us messages and saying, well, thank you that was actually a really good show, was really good that you spoke about this. So to get that kind of feedback is we know that we're doing the right thing and we want to keep making sure that we're providing good content for them.

Rob: Obviously, we're focused on the sponsors a little bit at the moment, but obviously the fans who are holding season passes and that sort of thing, that's a bit of a delicate challenge there as well. Is that process helping cater for them, seeing value, even though they don't have to pay to get the content? Is that just still helping deliver value for those members in what you're putting out?

Carly: Yes. So I can't really go into this part too much. We understand the frustrations of our members. We understand that we want to go to games. We want to be working at games. We want to be there and be part of the action just as much as they do. So the making sure they do feel valued at this time is important. It is tricky because right now we don't have that much information. We know, whatever information we get, we do pass on as soon as we can. But there isn't a lot of information that we can't pass on until things are 100 percent signed off. So I can completely understand when our members and fans get frustrated that they see things pop up in the media that they're hearing. But if it's not 100 percent true, then we we can't comment on it and we can't announce it. So it's that is that part is frustrating. But then again, as a fan, I can understand even the other day waking up and seeing on Twitter that apparently the club's moving to Manly, you sort of go, good, yeah, this news cycle again. Awesome. So I can completely understand where they're coming from. So during this time, it is really hard, but we are trying to make sure that we engage them continually.

Rob: And so it brings us to an interesting, sort of side thought around the PR and the hype aspect that can happen here. And I want to touch briefly on Usain Bolt coming to the club. And when we first heard about this happening, I think there was probably more people that thought it was another Internet rumour then that it was something legitimate. And regardless of the legitimacy, how important are those eyeballs and that interest, even just just raising awareness of the A-League, which is still relatively small in Australian sport?

Carly: The Usain Bolt experience was definitely an experience. We'd actually joked about it a few months earlier before it all happened, because I think at the stage he was talking about wanting to have a full career and we're like you we should bring to the Mariners. That was sort of it. It was a couple of jokes thrown around. And then I remember being brought into the boardroom and told, nope, he's coming to the Mariners. And I think it probably took me about 48 hours to actually go okay this is actually happening and full credit to all the staff there who just went into overdrive mode. You know, we had games. And that to organise. And with all that comes additional security. And and all this media suddenly wanted to be involved in the Mariners. And I remember getting requests from, you know, countries like the UK and random countries in South America. And it was just it was phenomenal. And still to this day, it doesn't seem real. And you couldn't even turn on the TV without seeing either Usain Bolt or our CEO Shaun Mielekamp. And, yeah, it was it was incredibly important to us because we actually had all these people actually taking an interest in us and talking about the A-League, which, you know, it doesn't doesn't get spoken about much overseas. So and while it was only a short, short term journey for him, you know, it was incredibly important to us, especially leading up to our season. During that time, we were leading into the FA Cup, I think, then going into our pre-season. So normally during that time, all talk is on NRL because it's NRL finals or AFL finals even, and A-League just doesn't normally get a mention.

Rob: Sure, yeah.

Carly: So it was you know, we had millions of dollars worth of media value, that essentially, I would never have gotten or never been able to get. So, yeah, it was it was fantastic. And, you know, we had games where we were actually able to because they weren't official games we were about to try some things like, you know, we had music playing during a game, which never happens. You know, we were able to sort of push the limits a little bit and see what happens and actually make a regular game day into more of an entertainment experience. So that was that was really huge for us as well.

Rob: And so were there takeaways from that process? So obviously, you know, as probably everyone's aware, Usain Bolt didn't sign with the club. And that was, you know, that's the way these things go. But the PR impact of that probably had a very lasting effect on the club, say, for an entire season. Is there some kind of way you can try and replicate that? You know, maybe not exactly in it's entirety, but are you hunting for that kind of approach again in order to get that PR value?

Carly: It's a very tricky thing because and I guess I'm not, from the coaching side of it, but you do need to make sure that you respect that. That line of professional footballers and where it may get taken too far. So while it was it was a great experience, I think. Yeah. And we need to make sure that it is a benefit to our footballing side of the club. So but definitely in terms of managing media and being able to push those boundaries a little bit and how we and how to take on those challenges. Yeah. Definitely been able to take that away.

Rob: Did that help you forge some relationships with, say, media outlets? So when there is something happening now, or maybe not right now, but when things return to normal, you know, can you extend the reach of the Mariners League or the Mariners Club, you know, into some of those outlets just from those initial contacts when all that hype was going on?

Carly: Yes. So we had, you know, like I said, people from all over the world contacting us. Unfortunately, our season results haven't been fantastic in the last couple of seasons. And so interest has dropped off. But every time we try to do things within the community, we are able to reach out. And we've got some longstanding media personalities that always support us, which has been fantastic. Even example of on Mariners TV the other day where she spoke to Adam Peacock, who's a Fox Sports presenter. He's actually putting together a podcast about the Usain Bolt experience. So he was able to chat to a couple of our staff members who were heavily involved. And yeah really showed that side of the process.

Rob: It's interesting. And so I know that you're involved with some community clubs as well. And we'll probably come back to Mariners again. But what are some of the experiences that you've had working with the Mariners that you can take home to, you know, your volunteer work with smaller clubs or that you can sort of help people who are trying to get sponsorship, even if it's just for jerseys and that sort of thing, you know. Is there something you can take away there to help the smaller clubs who, you know, maybe in a different league and it's indirect from the Mariners.

Carly: With so with the clubs on the coast, there's a huge difference between them. You've got some of the clubs like Terrigal and East Gosford who've got over a thousand participants, which is just massive. And then you've got some smaller clubs who, you know, might only have a handful of teams in total. So it's actually it has opened my eyes to that. You've got to actually make sure that you understand each clubs, each club's position. So you may, you know, offer a particular donation to one club, which may be fantastic for them, but it may not be suitable to the needs of a different club. So we've got our community department. They work really closely with the local clubs to make sure that we are able to understand what they need and what would actually benefit them. We've had a program running over the last couple of years called My Club Program. So any junior registered player can get a Mariners membership for fifteen dollars. In the past, there was also always a five dollar donation that went back to the club. There was sort of an incentive for the clubs to promote it because at the end of the season they then got a cash donation. So it was a way of saying, this is how we're going to help you. And then from then on, we're trying to really reinvent that program again to make sure that we're hitting the needs of each individual club. So it's a bit of a work in progress at the moment. So it was something that they were working on before, unfortunately, Corona Virus hit. The redevelopment of it. But yeah, it's something that, you know, we're very passionate about to making sure and I've played for local club for the last 10, 12 years. And, you know, I understand what goes on in the local club and, how their Mariners are actually so important to them, because we've had club nights where we would have 100 local kids and then all the Mariners players go out and coach a group of 10 of them. And watching all the kids line up at the end, get random assorted things signed and get photos, and the parents are just so proud that the young kids meeting their heroes, it's just it's really heartwarming.

Rob: And how important is that sort of role model role for players and we don't see it so much in A-League but some sporting codes have a real perception problem sometimes. But how important is that role model where these kids can actually meet a Mariners player, be coached by a Mariners player. And that goes obviously for, you know, each geographic area and their respective clubs. But how important is that value in terms of creating fans for the Mariners and sort of completing that cycle?

Carly: Oh, it's especially on the Central Coast, because you could go anywhere in Sydney and probably not see a Sydney FC player but you could go to Erina Fair, and you could probably run into Matt Simon doing his grocery shopping, because the Central Coast is that small. So, for these kids to know that they've got these local heroes among them. It's so important. And we need to make sure that, you know, they have these really fantastic experiences. So at the end of every game, the players do, their walk around and they shake hands and they take photos with the fans. And that's sort of that first touch that they might get. They might come to a game for the first time, you know, get to high five, Matt Simon. And for them, that's what they take away. They might not they might not remember the score or what happened. But it's actually that connection that they have and then doing certain things, really sort of finding those stories. We actually had a young boy. He was chosen to walk out with the team and he walked out with Tommy Oar and was just like his mum showed me photos. And the kid is just like starstruck. He's just he was so happy and apparently was talking about it for weeks, we found out that he had quite a significant injury where he'd broken part of his leg and wasn't able to go back to football. And for him, that was really discouraging because, you know, he'd had sort of a couple of setbacks and all he wanted to do was play football with his friends again. We managed to get Tommy Oar to surprise him at his house with the jersey and sit down and have a chat. Tommy Oar, obviously had some injuries in the past as well. But he was able to have a chat with that young boy and explain. Look, I had I've been in a similar position and, you know, you just gotta keep training and make sure you're strong because then you can play football for longer. And those kind of moments were, you know, just there, so lovely to see. And it just it makes the job so rewarding. And just knowing that, you know, and when we were there the little boy was quiet. He's very quiet. I think he was a bit shocked. Why is this? Why is Tommy Oar in my lounge room, but apparently for weeks after, he kept talking about it was talking about how his friend Tommy came to visit him. And and that is just you know, it's so important to know that all our players are passionate about their fans and and want to make sure they're doing the right things for them.

Rob: Obviously, with this sort of community feedback loop, the other aspect that can come from this is, say, supporting not for profits or causes in particular as well, and as sporting club like the Mariners has a unique ability to turn, say, a piece of apparel such as a jersey into a very high ticket item by getting the right signatures on it. And, you know, even if they even if you guys sell it or, you know, auction it as a you know, as a high priced item to gain some funding for something or gain support for something, how important is that role? And can it be over leveraged at times?

Carly: We try not to do too many, because I think you're right, the more you put them out there, the less value they have. And again, that's that's kind of a downfall to being such a small community, is that you can get a signature, you know, at a game or, you know, if you say that Matt Simon at Coles, that sort of thing. So you do need to make sure that we're not giving them out to every single person that asked because it does decrease that value. While, I wish we could do that because we love to support all different kinds of charities and community groups. It's just it's just not possible for us. We do, actually. We aligned ourselves with five community partners just to sort of be able to make sure that we were concentrating our efforts into, more like quality over quantity. And so one of those is actually Cancer Council NSW, in particular, the Central Coast branch. We've been working with them for probably about eight years now on our pink round. And that's probably the best example of how we work with community partners. So every year we do a round that's dedicated to women's cancer research and we have a one off pink jersey that all of our player wear. And then at the end, they get signed and we auction them off and all money raised goes to Cancer Council NSW. And that's sort of become a staple within our fixture each year. Used to be held in October because that's when Cancer Council like to align it. Now we sort of hold it, you know, when we feel like we will get the most sort of the biggest.

Rob: The most value.

Carly: Yeah. The most value. Sorry. So this year we actually held it in line with International Women's Day, which was a nice little tie in. And yeah, it was really good. And as an added touch, one of our academy coaches, his wife, unfortunately, is quite unwell with melanoma. So we did some additional fundraising, particularly for their family. And that was sort of a. It was we sort of had this story that we could tell that was actually so close to home. And I think a lot of people realised, well, this is why we're doing it, it's not just money for a charity. We actually can sort of see where the money's going in and that. So, yeah.

Rob: Yeah, I think it's important to strike that balance. Obviously, we all want to support as much as we can, but especially a team with limited resources and it has to be measured, and on that back on the business side of it a little bit. Obviously, in January, there's obviously the the New Year's Mariners game, home game every year. And I've had the privilege of watching the fireworks at the end and all that sort of thing. Obviously, this year there was a curveball with fireworks and that spectacle due to the bushfires. And there was a lot of controversy on both sides of that argument, is that kind of have a direct impact on what you guys are doing in terms of planning or people just coming for the game regardless. And, you know, the rest is bonus?

Carly: We definitely have to take it into consideration, especially. We were doing some fundraising for the Rural Fire Service from November, so we had made sure we had aligned ourselves with, the local unit here on the Central Coast. And we're raising money to make sure that we could give them some equipment upgrades.

Rob: You raised thirty thousand dollars or so?

Carly: Yeah. Yep. So that was really fantastic, actually got a message from the guys there recently. Then you radios that just come in.

Rob: Amazing.

Carly: That was really, really lovely. It was about nine thirty at night. And I sort of was know...

Rob: half asleep?

Carly: Well, you know, it was, you know, when you know, everything happening at the moment, you, like everyone's lives are a bit changed, feeling a little bit down. So to see that was. Yeah, it was actually really lovely. And I think I really needed to hear that good news. So yes, obviously we've been doing some fundraising for RFS. So we understood we could we can understand both sides that, you know, of where we needed to come, where you needed to sit in the fireworks debate. But for us, we we've got a really good relationship with Central Coast Council. So we obviously respect we've respected their decision. And, unfortunately, on the night the weather was wasn't great.

Rob: It's pretty atrocious.

Carly: So, yeah, a lot of their activations that they had to close up a little bit earlier. So was disappointing because it was completely out of their control. And I know the staff had put so much effort into making this event and, you know, trying to make it a big event without fireworks, having to be the the main event. Yes. So you just have to work with what you've got. And that's I guess, again, that's what the Mariners do.

Rob: Just roll with the punches.

Carly: Yeah. A bit of an example. A few years ago, we had a game which was like a seven o'clock on a Sunday or so. It was...

Rob: Strange time.

Carly: Ridiculous. It wasn't family friendly. And as being a club who attracts a lot of families, we were like, well, this isn't this isn't good for our members and fans. It's not suitable. So I think with a couple of days out, that game got changed, to I think two or three o'clock, so much more family friendly time. So then it was like, okay, how do we make this a family event. And we in a few within a few days, we had a Mums and Bubs lounge. We had a kids creche, we had free beers for the dad, like it was all this stuff that we managed to turn around in a couple of days. And you kind of sit back afterwards and you go, how do we get that done. But it's just the Mariners way, you just get it done.

Rob: And I think there's something to be said for that underdog mentality or, you know, bootstrapped kind of mentality, which I think a lot of people would assume doesn't exist in any kind of club. And so speaking of like thinking on your feet, we've seen some videos with Marvin the mascot, doing some funny skits around the office and pushing over trolleys full of toilet paper and that sort of thing. Was that a, again, just an engagement aspect of trying to keep that communication going? Or was it really just whoever's wearing that mascot uniform, just having a crack?

Carly: I love Marvin so much. So Marvin was obviously the mascot when I was a fan. And then around the time we won the championship around 2012, 2013, some new mascots were introduced and Marvin was retired to greener pastures. And then, yeah, in the last six months or so, we found the costume. It was unearthed. And, you know, lots of people sharing their good memories of Marvin on game day and how he was a little bit crazy and a little bit wild. And our CEO mentioned the panda cheese commercials, which I'm not quite sure if you're familiar with.

Rob: Vaguely.

Carly: But it's essentially an angry panda that doesn't like the fact that you not having cheese and has a bit of destruction, which we kind of went, oh, it's got a Marvin vibes to it. So we as a joke, we recreated one of the, one of the commercials and it actually was it was well accepted. We will like oh. We weren't sure that people might have thought, well, mascots, kids, mascots need to be friendly and, you know, real family friendly. So to sort of have a mascot that was a little bit angry, had a little bit of attitude. We weren't quite sure how people would take.

Rob: Well, it did get sidelined for a bunch of years.

Carly: He had a bit of pent up frustration. I think, so yeah. And then from then on, we just, you know, we re-created a couple more of those commercials and then started to do things that our own Marvin now has his own TikTok account. So dancing in that costume looks like it's a challenge. I don't think it was. It was not made for it. And then, yeah, we got challenged by a Korean football mascot recently that he was gearing up for a fight with Marvin. So Marvin hit the gym and all of that. So, you know, to have a bit of fun with him during this time and and it's keeping people engaged and just providing a bit of comic relief. I think.

Rob: And I think that's important right now. And as time's progressing, we're all sort of focused on. On the way back out. And do you think that engagement is going to help sort of spring back the restoration once games start back up again?

Carly: Yeah, I think so, because we've been able to. Really just sort of keep people engaged without having to use footballing content. Even the fact that we've been using, you know, Marvin colouring in competitions, for some of our younger members. And things like that. And then obviously once football starts. We're able to bring him into that messaging for game day as well. He, we actually had Marvin at an FA Cup game where he randomly resurged and had a bit of like a, all the kids on the field had to chase him and it was all, a little bit crazy. So, yeah, once games kick off again. Definitely would love to see him being more involved. And he was the only spectator at our Melbourne City game where it was close to the general public. And he somehow managed to get himself in there with a little sign that he was waving around. So, yeah, he's definitely important. We'll continue on.

Rob: Because he has been running replays of finals and and other games. You know, what's what's the audience engagement level of that? Is it, like, pleasantly surprising or are you just trying to keep the wheels turning at whatever pace they can?

Carly: Yeah, I mean, to have those moments that you can relive. Who doesn't want to watch relive the grand final were we beat the Wanderers 2-0. So when we announced that we had a lot of really good feedback and the fact that we were able to as we streaming it, as you're streaming it live, our social media accounts are actually reliving it as if they're saying it for the first time. So you're actually able to sort of reignite that passion and that excitement. I when Daniel McBreen scored and Patrick Zwaanswijk you sort of going oh like this is it gets you really geared up for football again and you kind of want more like even, I've been watching the Premier League over in Belarus, which is. You know, it's not A-League level football, but it's live football. And I just sit there and watch it. And I don't understand what the commentators are saying cause they're talking in a different language. But you sort of go, like, just it. It makes it's making you crave live football again. And I really think that's driving people up but they just they just want to watch the Mariners again.

Rob: So obviously, on like, you guys must be doing some kind of planning for the way out, are there any particular challenges that you see in trying to get back to sort of pre COVID attendance once games are allowed?

Carly: Yeah, that's the tricky part at the moment, because things are changing so quickly and you also want to respect the rules and regulations that the government is putting in. And we also don't want to make promises that we can't keep. We would hate to say, yeah, sure. No worries. October, we're kicking off again and we'll see you at the stadium because realistically, that may not happen. So we kind of need to be prepared for anything that gets thrown at us. As I've mentioned before, so right now, we need to focus on finishing the season that we never got to finish. So which I think is the big difference between NRL and AFL and where we are. They were only just starting their season. So, for them to push it back is a little bit different for us we actually have to restart or not restart the season, but we've got to pick off a pick up where we left off. And then, you know, all that comes into broadcasters and venue availability and then keeping in mind how many people, have you got around you, you know, if they say you can only have hundred people in the stadium, then you need to consider is the hundred people, including the players and all the staff in the background. And it's really, really tricky. And I mean, even at the moment, like I know, one of the biggest priorities, is actually getting young kids playing football again because for their mental health and socialisation, that's, you know, that's probably more important.

Rob: Sure, yeah. Keep them running around.

Carly: Yeah. So there's a lot to a lot to consider. I think the Mariners, we've only had four games to finish up. And then, you know, how do you get how do you get those games done in a short amount of time, which is done in a safe way and keeps the sponsors happy. You've got proper broadcasting and it's. Yeah, it's a lot to work out.

Rob: And because you guys obviously have obviously federal regulations, state regulations, and then you've got the A-League regulations and then you've got club decisions to be made as well. So there's quite a balance there. Even when things are allowed to move on.

Carly: Yeah, its a lot to take in. And yeah another reason, why we sort of just have to take it day by day, because things could change in two weeks time, cases could be up again and we could be pushed back. So we just have sort of sit and wait and prepare the best we can for the things we can do. So, you know, going through some of our, and seeing what you know, what things we can catch up on or, you know, let's start working on our marketing plan for next season and getting some stuff locked in that that way.

Rob: Interesting. So we're coming up on time. But I've got a few quick questions I wouldn't mind running through. If you had a single best tip for a small community club in order to increase their sponsorship levels. What would that be?

Carly: Personally, I think embracing social media, a lot of, most people are on it these days and it's so much as, you know, a little quick shout out to some of the sponsors that have, you know, donated sausages, for your sausage sizzle and things like that. It really does make people feel connected. Even during this time. There's been a Facebook group which is Central Coast delivered to me, and it's all just local businesses that are putting it out there saying, well, you know, we're actually delivering our food. And the amount of support people are showing for is just phenomenal. I'd never would have thought it would have grown that big. So I think it shows that, you know, social media has such a big influence, especially on small communities. But I definitely think that.

Rob: If there was a single biggest lesson that you've learned in 10 years of working for the Mariners around sporting clubs, marketing, sporting clubs or sponsorship, what would that be?

Carly: Got to think quick on your feet. That's and I think for me personally, that suits me the best on one, those people that learns the best if you throw in the deep end and you just got to find the way out. That's. I think that goes in all in all sports because things change so quickly. Things can, things, news can break overnight. And you've got to work out how we're going to deal with this.

Rob: And that probably leads me to another interesting question is for anyone watching and listening. How do they determine the difference between the hype and the reality? Go straight to the source or is it just common sense?

Carly: Yes. So when things, when things 100 percent confirmed, the clubs will tell people.

Rob: Interesting. Good tip. So, Carly Carmichael. Where pretty much out of time now. But for anyone who wants to get engaged with the Mariners or watch some really cool TikTok videos of Marvin. Where do they go?

Carly: Yes, we've got our own we've got Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the Central Coast Mariners which is @ccmariners, and then Marvin is @marvinccmfc. You can find him on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.

Rob: I think we'll just have to check that one out. Carly Carmichael, I've really appreciated this chat and I really hope that Mariners find their way out of COVID in the time coming.

Carly: Great. Thank you so much for having me.

Rob: Thank you. There you have it. I hope you really enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please like it, share it or leave us a review on your favourite platform. It helps us show more of this content to people just like you.