The NFL & Marketing: Gridiron Strategies You Can Apply to Your Business

If you’re like millions of other Americans, the NFL offseason can be a dark, dreadful few months full of productive Sundays spent toiling in the yard and shopping for furniture or new bed spreads, all while your couch lies vacant and sad, the coldies in the fridge go ignored, and the RedZone channel is a dark, idle reminder of how much time remains before opening day.

Worry not, America!  The hours you spent dissecting any bit of news that leaked from your team’s camp, arguing hypotheticals with your buddies, and meticulously planning your upcoming fantasy draft were not spent in vain – the season is finally upon us!  Opening Sunday is in the books, your favorite team is undefeated (go Colts!) your fantasy team is crushing the competition, and tonight marks the start of one of America’s most beloved and sacred traditions – Monday Night Football.

Awesome ad campaign for Monday Night Football.

Awesome ad campaign for Monday Night Football.

The NFL is big business, generating a reported $9.5 billion in 2011-12, and as this year’s season gets under way we thought it would be a great time to examine some of the strategies, both on the field and in the boardroom, that have made the NFL America’s most popular and pervasive sport.

A well-researched game plan

The great Bear Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that.  It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”  Preparation is everything.  A coach who sends his men into battle without a well-informed game plan can expect about as much success as I would if I were to show up for a calculus final after having skipped every lecture of the semester.  As one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, Peyton Manning’s enduring success can be attributed to many things, though it is his unrelenting commitment to the small details that probably plays the largest part in his calm, confident demeanor on the line of scrimmage.  I have read countless stories that describe Manning’s almost maniacal approach to preparation, and all it takes is a look at his stats from Thursday’s season opener to understand why he continues to be one of the game’s greats (27/42, 462 yards, 7TD (!!!), 0 INT).

The same principle applies in the business world.  A poorly planned marketing strategy will be unsuccessful, waste valuable resources, and have little impact on your business.  Exhaustively research the industry and market to see where there are current/future opportunities for growth.  Examine your business’ place within the market to determine where your strengths/weaknesses lie, and then put in the work to improve!

After years of using the same, “pink it and shrink it” approach towards marketing apparel to female fans, the NFL has recently revamped its strategy and has begun offering more clothes and accessories from retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Nike that are tailor fit for women’s bodies.  Based on market research that showed women comprise nearly 45% of the NFL’s fan-base, they saw a market that was ripe with potential for growth, and their efforts have been extremely successful.

Be sure to continually examine your marketing strategy.  Are all your marketing efforts and campaigns working in unison to effectively promote your business?  How are you able to improve on your marketing promotions to ensure they will maximize their ROI and make a lasting and significant impression on your customers?

A team sport, with multiple, equally important roles

Peyton Manning wouldn’t have won his Superbowl without Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison streaking down the field nabbing perfectly thrown spirals.  A football team is composed of 53 players.  53!  Though each individual might not get the same amount of time on ESPN, they all play important and distinct roles in helping a team reach its goals, and the same is true of your business’ marketing team.

In today’s social media driven society, there seems to be a new outlet to promote yourself emerging every week.  Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, and more– it would be impossible, and inefficient, for one person to stay on top of all the different forms of communication these days!

In order to keep up with customer demands, and ensure that your marketing promotions are effective in leaving a lasting impression, it is essential to recruit a team of passionate individuals that look forward to tackling the many varied jobs a successful marketing campaign entails.  A direct-mail campaign may be a great way for your business to promote its new offerings, yet if you don’t research and analyze the market data, the campaign’s return may be a fraction of what it could have been.

Having your entire team engaged in multiple arenas will allow you to be as prepared as possible for successfully reaching new and existing clients.  Ensure that your team is aware of the overall goals of other departments, how each promotion may positively impact customers, and how to best communicate those goals.
What are some of your tips on planning and analyzing your marketing campaigns?

Year Long Content Calendar

NFL news doesn’t end in February with the conclusion of the Super Bowl.  Rather, throughout the spring/summer teams conduct extensive player workouts, analysts spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the upcoming draft, and news sources exhaustively cover every possible rumor that pops up throughout the free agency period.  There are team meetings, open practices, and preseason games.  All of these coordinated activities ensure a never-ending season of marketing opportunities, and that the NFL fan never goes a day

The NFL Draft Combine is just one of the many ways the league fills the offseason schedule.

The NFL Draft Combine is just one of the many ways the league fills the offseason schedule.

without wanting to see more football.

The NFL’s approach to a year-long content calendar can be applied to your business’ multi-channel marketing (a specialty of Metropolitan Printing) campaigns.  Jeremy Bloom, a former NFL player and founder of Integrate (an advertising technology company that assists media buyers with marketing campaign planning and deployment), says, “Consumers today live digital lives….They’re on the go.  Mobile, email, display, you name it…in order to stay in the forefront of their experience, advertisers must become equally diverse.”

“Most brands know the importance of multi-channel marketing.  In fact, larger brands often have entire teams devoted to individual channels.  That’s where the problem lies,” Bloom says.  “Brands are still most often approaching these channels individually.  They obtain valuable insights from one channel and fail to apply them across all efforts.”

Ensure your marketing “content calendar” is continuously full, whether it’s direct mail, email marketing, social media, print advertisements, etc.  Track and analyze results to drive more effective campaigns.

On what networks are you customers most active?  Monitor responses, conversion, and engagement throughout each channel of your campaign, and share that data with all members of your team.

Though you may not have the vast resources of the NFL, apply some of their on and off-field strategies into your own business and marketing plans.  Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  If your business’ team members commit themselves individually to the team’s goals and vision, good things will happen.

Last but not least – GO COLTS!

Colts

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