What we can learn from the Pros!
Sports marketing is a huge business, and no one does it better than the NFL. And when you take a closer look at how they go to market, it’s easy to see why their revenues are projected to exceed $13 billion in 2017.
They start with the end in mind. Making sure they deliver an unparalleled experience to their fan base. That’s their goal, and they never lose sight of it. They never become complacent. And they certainly don’t rest on their laurels and say, “We’re number one, we can pull back a little this year.”
They understand there are no guarantees. And the same applies to the world of Talent Acquisition. Just because you are a respected Employer Brand today, doesn’t mean you’ll be one tomorrow.
So what can we learn from the NFL.
Do not take anything for granted. It is all about Commitment.
That’s where it has to start. Without the kind of unshakeable commitment the NFL demonstrates, then you’re building a house of cards.
Of course, it’s imperative to have a goal, but getting there is the hard part. Imagine how something as simple as going to the restroom during a game supports the overarching goal of “delivering an unparalleled experience.” No one wants to miss a single play. So when you can have data that tells you which restrooms have the shortest lines, then you are providing information that matters. The premise is simple. It’s called engagement.
So, what can we learn from the NFL? Deliver content that is meaningful to your audience. How do you that? By asking your audience what is important to them. Nothing too complicated here, but you have to want to do it.
Lesson # 2
Do not assume you know your audience.
Market dynamics and candidate perspectives change all the time. Without the drive to connect your audience to content that matters, then you’re disseminating white noise.
Taking the next step. Once you know what is important to those that are important to you, well, you have to assume your competitors know too. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. This is the moment where you need to engage your candidates by developing content that speaks to their wants and needs. And, you have to provide that content in a way they want to accept it. Why is your story more compelling to them? Why should they listen to you? What will motivate them to say, “Yes, I want to learn more”.
Back to the NFL. Does any one sport do a better job developing a sense of intrigue? Does anyone do a better job promoting a matchup? For years, the face of the NFL was Peyton Manning. Now it’s Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Bill Belichick. You don’t even have to think hard to know that. Can you say the same for baseball, hockey? Yes, the NBA does a better job, but not as good as the King of Sports.
Embrace Crisis, if you don’t, you’ll pay a heavy price.
It’s not all peaches and cream for the NFL, or for Fortune 500 companies or private equity start-ups. Every once in awhile, your efforts will be challenged. Case in point. The NFL concussion issue is a crisis that had/has the potential to significantly reduce its fan base and impede their efforts to expand the current fan base. The light has/is shining brightly on the NFL, as it has been sharply reproved over the last few years. But the reaction to any problem is vital to the long-term implications of that problem. The NFL has gone from no action to making progress. From research that is being done, to protocols that have been implemented, to eliminating certain techniques from the game, to transforming the acceptable to the penalized, they have made progress.
Crisis management is key. If you don’t acknowledge the issues, develop a crisis response strategy, commit to seeing it through, then your brand will sink faster than a rock in water. Doing nothing is never the answer. Your brand is your most prized possession. How you are viewed by candidates and employees is priority one.
Think about what makes you different and market it, market it, market it.
Why does a small market team in Green Bay enjoy the same popularity as a team in New York. How can a team in Nashville compete with a big market team like Chicago. How can fans all across the country, no matter where they live, believe their team has a chance. The NFL had an idea that parity would lead to greater engagement. The Yankees outspending everyone to have a roster comprised of future Hall of Famers isn’t the NFL model. Simply stated, revenue sharing and salary caps are what makes the NFL different.
From an Employer Branding perspective, you need to uncover and articulate what makes you different and how that/those differences manifest themselves. In the famous words of that great author, Dr. Seuss, “No one is more youer than you.” When you dig beneath the surface, you’ll see what makes you special and you’ll leverage that to strengthen your brand and attract the right kind of people to your respective organizations. And that is, “Truer than true.”