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The NBA recently concluded its 2019-2020 season, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking home the crown. The league finished the season in a “bubble,” where no fan was allowed to watch games live. Pre-pandemic, a huge chunk of the league’s revenues came from ticket purchases and in-game spending. And yet, the season didn’t lose much, thanks to its billion-dollar TV contracts and other revenue streams.
Like every business in the US, the NBA league has to reinvent during the pandemic to survive. But apart from the “bubble” platform, the league has its clever marketing tactics to thank for its survival. For years, the league has continued to innovate in brand marketing to attract basketball fans across the globe. Startups and other local and small and mid-enterprises can even steal a few marketing tips from the NBA.
Nailing content marketing
The NBA knows the fans crave content, so they give it to them—including its own proprietary data.
The league employs several experts to write game recaps, trade scenarios, and other stories on its website. It also doesn’t sit on its proprietary data. The league makes huge amounts of stats and data public. And this has resonated with one key aspect of being a sports fan: every fan wants to be a game analyst. So, more and more fans go to the website to get reliable and helpful information. Then, they create their own content on their YouTube channels, personal blogs, and social media accounts. This community of “fan analysts” gives free marketing to the league and its teams and players all-year-round.
You can employ this strategy for your brand. Any digital marketing expert or outsourced CMO would advise you to put out articles that talk about your business and industry as a whole. But take this tactic to the next level by funneling a few proprietary data to your audience to make your articles and websites more trustworthy. Let your audience analyze that data and use it to create their own content.
Creating a strong presence through social media
Fans are never left in the dark about what’s going on in the league, thanks to teams’ social media accounts and the official NBA social media pages. But that isn’t only the role of social media for the NBA.
Social pages across the league post videos of game highlights, GIFs of funny in-game moments, and other types of content to interact with fans. They stay relevant by creating a humanizing presence online.
You can do the same for your brand. Use social media as a platform not only to post updates but to also engage with your audience. Make them feel like you’re that neighbor or friend they can easily talk to. Interact with them by posting polls, responding to tweets, or making them laugh with a hilarious GIF.
Allowing personal branding
Part of the leagues’ growing popularity comes from the fact that it allows star players to brand and market themselves. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and other players sign endorsement deals with Nike, Under Armour, Gatorade, and other large brands that, in turn, help promote the league.
You might think personal branding doesn’t apply to your small business. There’s no way your employees can be endorsers of Adidas or any other big-time brands. But you can still use personal branding cleverly.
For instance, you can encourage employees to share company blogs on their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You can hold contests that require staff to post something on their social media and link to your website or brand’s official social media page. Another way to use personal branding is to allow your expert leaders to come up with their podcasts, personal blogs, and other content. Then try to ask them to mention your brand or talk about it in one episode to drive some customers to your website. Even if you don’t ask them, their audience online may make the connection and check out your brand eventually.
The NBA’s popularity shows no signs of stopping even at a time of global crisis, thanks to these ingenious online marketing tactics. Go on and steal these moves to make that smooth drive to the sales hoop.