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Introducing Caroline Herbert

Somerset County Cricket Club are pleased to be able to announce that Caroline Herbert has joined us as our new Commercial Director.

Caroline has a wealth of experience within the industry and has settled quickly into her new role.

We spent some time with Caroline at the Cooper Associates County Ground earlier this week to find out a little bit more about her.

Originally from London, she moved to Bristol in 2007 and has been a resident of the West Country ever since.

We began by asking Caroline what journey she has taken to arrive at her current career path.

“I actually studied a history degree at university and aspired to be a journalist,” she explained. “Although I initially wanted to go into journalism, like most people I finished university with something of an overdraft. An opportunity for a job with an IT publisher presented itself, so I took it.

“To cut a long story short, I found that I really enjoyed working in business and was quite good at it. That took me completely by surprise because spreadsheets, gross and net profits and things like that were alien to me at the time.

“I did try my hand at journalism, but I didn’t really enjoy it because I missed the excitement of working in a commercial environment. So I embraced the business world and learnt my craft in the media sector which taught me so much about building value propositions, demonstrating the value of what you’re selling through the right narrative and driving real return for both your clients and the business.

“When I moved to Bristol, I continued in this field working for Immediate Media, one of the biggest content publishers, and then at an ad agency. In 2017, a job opportunity at Bristol Sport as Chief Commercial Officer presented itself and it piqued my interest sufficiently for me to apply. I was successful in my application and spent almost four years applying by business skills to that landscape and looking after the commercial interests of Bristol City Football Club, Bristol Bears and Bristol Flyers.

“I was initially quite surprised by the lack of certain commercial practices especially when compared with the media sector and I was able to bring a lot of the disciplines that I’d learnt in a more mainstream business role into the sporting arena. To my surprise also, I became incredibly invested emotionally in the job. I’ve never experienced that before and I think it’s because of the huge and positive impact sport makes on people and the local community as a whole. When you work in the sporting environment you get completely caught up on the journey that the Club is going through, and you really want them to succeed both on and off the field.”

How important is it for professional sports clubs to be successful off the field if they want to be successful on it?

“When you take a step back, a sports team is more than just a team, it’s actually a business,” Caroline explained. “In order to be sustainable and successful you have to be commercially viable. Therefore, in this industry it’s important to drive commercial partnerships and to adapt the venue for a broader business market. You need to make the venue a 365 day a year venue and a destination in its own right.

“As well as hosting the sporting fixtures, you need to be able to hold conferences, events and alternative experiences. That’s the only way you can create a sustainable business and therefore reinvest into the cricket side of things to drive on field success. I don’t think people often think about that and it’s vital for the business community to recognise that and the importance to get involved.

 

“Our success through both cricket and making the ground a destination for other events will in turn drive the local economy by bringing new audiences to the town and region, increasing hospitality revenues and hotel occupancy and improving the visitor economy in general.”

What does Caroline’s role at Somerset CCC entail?

“I was brought in to help drive the commercial success of the business,” she said. “So, I’m responsible for all commercial aspects from sponsorship and advertising, hospitality and conferencing and events. The Cooper Associates County Ground is such an amazing venue, and we need to make sure it is fully utilised on both a match and non-matchday. There are a host of events that I am looking to create and bring here when we are allowed. I’m excited about growing that side of the business whilst simultaneously increasing the number of people who attend on a matchday. I want to create amazing experiences that create lasting memories.

“We need to be delivering excellence to every customer and make sure that we are offering value for money. It is also important to ensure that all our commercial partnerships are working effectively, and we are driving real value to both parties.

“Ultimately, I’ll be judged on the revenue that we generate because that is what will make us sustainable, protects us and enable the Club to reinvest back into cricket, whether that’s the First Team or the incredible work the Pathway and Academy do. It will also help support all of the wonderful community work undertaken by the Club.”

How have the events of this year altered how Caroline will approach her new role?

“Nobody anticipated what would happen this year and it’s been hugely challenging for everyone. So many sectors have been badly affected, with one of the most obvious ones being the hospitality sector, which we are very much a part of. Sporting clubs saw their revenue streams almost entirely cut off in March. That is a huge challenge and one that is being faced by the wider hospitality and entertainment sectors.

“Despite all the problems, people have demonstrated real resilience, compassion and innovation and there are definitely people and businesses who will come out of this much stronger. The sports sector was the same, and with the continued appetite for sport, clubs found ways to engage with fans and deliver content across new channels whether that was digital, social media or e-sports.  Somerset County Cricket Club’s live stream is an example of that, and we will need to embrace these new channels moving forward in order to create new and diverse audiences.

“Having said that, there’s nothing like having live audiences at the ground and we all want to see our Members and fans return as soon as it’s safe to do so. The appetite for sport and for live experiences is still there and I look forward to welcoming people back soon.”

What were Caroline’s first impressions of Somerset CCC?

“My first impression is that there is so much potential here,” she said. “That is really exciting, and I’m really motivated by both the challenge and the opportunity. Everyone has also been incredibly welcoming and supportive. There’s a fantastic team here, both on and off the field.”

What does Caroline hope to achieve in her time at Somerset?

“I came here because I wanted to be firmly rooted in a club and to make a positive difference. Ultimately, I want to drive the commercial success of the Club which will have a tangible benefit both to the Club and the wider community.

“I also want to help put Taunton even more firmly on the map as a destination of choice, not just for cricket but also for great events.”

Now that she has settled into her new role, what message does Caroline have for the local business community?

“My rallying call would be for them to get involved and support Somerset County Cricket Club because it will have a tangible benefit on their business through the reach that we offer and the power of sport sponsorship. It will also have a really positive impact on the local community in turn and allow us to secure higher profile matches and bigger and better events.” she explained.

“We have a highly engaged fanbase both regionally and nationally and it’s important for businesses to recognise that they can benefit from that. We are an effective advertising platform. If you’re thinking of advertising, don’t just think about the more obvious options. Think about investing in sport. There are opportunities for every budget, and it is proven to drive business growth, employment engagement and satisfaction plus authentic connections with consumers. The engagement that Members and fans have with their club can’t be replicated in any other media, and I say that with confidence having worked in the more mainstream media sector.”

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