The NFL Draft: A Lesson in Off Season Marketing

Each April, with the Major League Baseball season just underway, NBA teams making a final push for the post season and the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs heating up, the NFL Draft takes over the national sports conversation.

As Tim Diette, an economist from Washington and Lee University says, “the NFL has turned a business meeting into a three-day spectacle.”  In fact, ESPN’s coverage of the first round was up 16% from last year with over 6.6 million people watching. All of this despite the fact that the first two picks were known well in advance of draft day.

Admittedly, the NFL doesn’t get all of the credit for what the draft has turned into. ESPN has been broadcasting it since 1980 and accordingly to Leah LaPlaca, vice president of programming at ESPN, “It’s a tent-pole event for us.” as they preview it, cover it and analyze each selection across their platforms.

The other key ingredient is the popularity of fantasy football. According to Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated, “You can be in San Francisco, but you’re following the New York Giants’ game because it affects your fantasy team. Every single game in the league now matters to fans, and the draft is an extension of that.” The draft helps keep the NFL top of mind year round to both diehard and casual fans.

What’s Your Off Season Plan?

With Memorial Day fast approaching and the audience changes that take place once school lets and the nice weather sets in as PUMM (Persons Using Measured Media) levels decrease, it’s essentially the off season.

According to LoopFuse, here are some business lessons that can be applied from the NFL Draft.

Know What You Need – NFL teams don’t just need “more players” and you don’t necessarily just need “more cume”. When a team identifies an area of need, it’s not because they don’t already have enough QBs, running backs or linemen on the roster. They see a specific opportunity.

Is a particular day part getting trial without repeat listening? Is the younger end of your core demo under performing? What do you need and more importantly, what does your audience need from you?

Do Your Research – NFL scouts spend months watching tape, attending practice sessions and pouring over player stats. All the teams have access to the much of the same data, but some leverage it much more effectively than others.

Between Arbitron data, audience research, and online platforms, there’s no shortage of available insights. In fact, there’s so much info, sometimes it’s difficult to put it all together. By knowing specifically what you need, it makes it much easier to develop a strategy and know what to focus on.

Prioritize – In the first round of the draft, every player selected is likely an All-American, so in theory there’s no such thing as a bad pick, but looking back at drafts, there are plenty of busts. Based on a team understanding their needs and the process of player research, priorities begin to emerge. Is it more important that the players they are evaluating be strong or fast?

In radio, budgets and staffing are tight, so with multiple areas that all deserve your attention it seems like any choice is a necessary one, but just like the draft, some decisions will set your team up for success, while others will hold you back. This summer, when making choices on where to deploy your street team, are you looking for events taking place in your hot zips? With summer concerts, are you simply giving away tickets to caller #10 or are you giving tickets to your best and most loyal listeners and asking them to post pictures on your Facebook page?

Virtually every member of your audience will spend 90% of their time this summer doing things other than listening to the radio. How will you engage with those who matter most, so that like the NFL, you stay top of mind?

For more information on how you can engage your listeners who matter most, contact Andrew Curran about DMR360.

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