Think with Footprint: Coaching with Colchester United FC

Published on March 3, 2017 by Chris Ainsworth

After the success of our first Think with Footprint session in December, we snapped up the opportunity to visit Colchester United Football Club for a session with their Community Manager, Corin Haines. Now, we know what you might be thinking – football and digital marketing are about as far apart from each other as chalk and cheese, and you’d be right. The actual practices involved in each are alien to each other – but we quickly discovered that the coaching elements of football can easily transgress the football/digital marketing boundary.

We arrived at Colchester FC on a sunny Friday morning in February, were introduced to Corin, and then took our seats in their meeting room. We started off the session discussing the homework that we’d been set a few weeks previously – Corin had asked us to think back to a memory about teaching or coaching that really stood out for us, and bring along a physical memento related to that memory. Most of the memories related to our school days, Caroline spoke about an English teacher who helped improve her confidence, James remembered a supply teacher who had made him engage with Chemistry when it had previously been his least favourite subject, and Tom J told us about a geography teacher who was so inspiring that to this day he would be able to relay his teaching of an Ox-bow lake (we’ll test him on that later). On the other hand, Chris remembered a teacher who knew everything there was to know about coding – but just couldn’t communicate that to his students. This exercise really impressed upon us the importance of teaching, and how vital it is to be knowledgeable, but also passionate, patient, and a good communicator!

Our second task was to think about the FA Four Corner Model. This is the model used by the FA for player development, and the four corners are ‘Technical’; ‘Psychological’; ‘Physical’; and ‘Social’. We split ourselves into four groups and were tasked with trying to work out what they would put in each of the four corners. For those of us who are less football-minded, this was a bit of a challenge! Whilst areas such as ‘Technical’ were quite specific to football skills, other areas, like ‘Social’, were relatable to almost any business or team.

After thinking about what would be in the FA model, it was time to apply this idea to digital marketing! We decided that our model would look very similar- simply swapping ‘Physical’ for ‘Strategy’. The most important elements of each of the four corners for Footprint Digital were as follows:


Organisation Skills
Specialism skills (e.g. PPC, SEO, CRO)
Adaptability and innovation skills (Digital marketing is ever changing – we need to keep on top of our game!)
Marketing skills
Analytical skills


Wellbeing and positivity
Focus/ clarity
Empathy (with each other and most importantly with our clients)


Understanding the bigger picture
Proactive planning


Culture (we’re really proud of our culture at Footprint Digital – and we want to keep it that way!)
Being a team player
Taking responsibility


After that exercise, Corin spoke to us about communication methods, and best practices for coaching, which we hope to apply to our every day practices at Footprint Digital, teaching each other and teaching our clients. At the end of this, we watched a really inspirational Ted Talks clip by teacher, Rita Pierson – if you’ve only got time to do one more thing today then watch this (or read some more of our blog, you know, whatever floats your boat).

To wrap up, we each wrote a personal goal for ourselves, and a wider goal that would impact the whole company – I would share mine with you, but that would be telling!

The session showed just how relatable two seemingly un-relatable businesses can be. Footprint Digital are unlikely to start up our own football team any time soon (Sorry, Tom B) but we did take an awful lot from this session with Corin about how coaching and teaching should be done, and about how much of an impact our teaching and communication styles have on others.

Here’s to the next Think with Footprint session! 

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By Alexandra Eade, Content Manager.