It’s no secret that I’m a fantasy football fanatic. I’ve always been a competitor and my love for football makes this game a natural fit for me. Even better, there are many parallels between fantasy football and successful marketing. Since football season is rapidly approaching and many leagues are beginning to organize and prepare, I thought I’d share them with you.
If you’re not familiar with how fantasy football is played, players in a fantasy football league essentially hold drafts in which they take turns choosing real-life NFL players to add to their roster. Points are calculated each week based on the actual performance of the players on their fantasy team. Most leagues use a head-to-head format, so each week, two teams are pitted against each other.
Being successful in fantasy football requires similar ingredients necessary to becoming a successful marketer. Here are a few:
- The core of fantasy football is the entire NFL. All of the players that make up any fantasy football team also exist and play in real life. Think of this pool of talent that comprises fantasy football teams in relation to the pool of customers and potential customers that exist in the world.
- Prior to the football season, league members meet, either online or in person, and draft their players. These team owners are in competition with each other to secure a team of players that will give them the best chances of success. Similarly, a business considers the pool of available customers, evaluates which ones they think they can acquire, and generates business from them throughout the year.
- To be successful, fantasy football team owners must do a lot of research. They read sports magazines, keep up with the news, look at a player’s past performances, and listen to experts. They also must consider their position in the draft order and predict what their opponent’s strategies will be. Are they going to draft a quarterback first? A running back? How deep is the talent pool at this position? Marketing strategies are created based on research, too, such as the current state of the market, trends and analysis, in order to position themselves with the best possible strategy for success. Successful marketers do the same thing. They analyze the market, their customer database, what their competitors are doing, which customers in their markets are most likely to convert into business and which groups of customers they want to pursue and in which order. They use data and research to make predictions that will offer the greatest chance of success.
- Once the team is secured and the season begins, the key to winning is not sitting back and watching, but maintaining an active role in managing the team. Team owners are constantly monitoring the health and performance of their players as well as looking for opportunities that arise and being ready and able to jump on them when they do. When a running back gets injured, an opportunity exists to use their backup. If a starting quarterback gets benched, a team owner may need to scramble to find a new starter. Just like fantasy football, marketing is a dynamic activity. Marketers must constantly measure their marketing successes and failures and be willing and able to change direction at a moment’s notice if something isn’t working. Simply sitting back and taking a passive approach won’t win you any championships.
- Last, but not least, fantasy football is about taking risks. At the beginning of every season there is a talent pool of rookies entering the league. Team owners must decide, both during the draft and during the season, whether these players are good enough prospects to fill a roster spot. Marketing is no different. New technologies and marketing tools appear frequently. Great marketers evaluate these opportunities and are willing to take risks, either immediately or after the new opportunity is tried and tested. The results will tell you whether it was a good decision or whether it is time to send that player back into free agency.
The automotive marketing space is a hyper-competitive world for vendors. Everybody tells dealers that their product or service will perform. Because of this, dealers take what vendors say with a grain of salt. Great marketers, on the other hand, make sure they are aware of all of the solutions that are available to them, just as a great fantasy football team owner is familiar with the entire pool of NFL players. When new prospects arrive on the scene, they investigate and make a decision on whether this prospect will complement their current team or not.
Unlike fantasy football, marketing is a game that has real business consequences. If done right, it can take your team all the way to the Super Bowl. If it’s done wrong, however, you could find yourself languishing at the bottom of the standings every year.