That time of the year is coming. We’re approaching the 19-20 NFL season. The players are wrapping up their OTAs, pre-season is just around the corner and the teams’ marketeers are wrapping up their marketing plans for the season.
65% of sports marketers agree that influencer marketing programs are a necessity for a brand's success in today's digital world.
Sports brands worldwide have been looking at influencer marketing as a tool to strengthen their fan communities, manage brand image and boost ticket sales.
Gear up for the NFL season with these 7 red zone plays for your influencer marketing program.
1. Monitor sport opinion leaders and experts
Trust is an influencer's social currency; so make sure you're aware of the opinions your fan's value the most. You can stay ahead of trends in public opinion by monitoring what the commentators, analysts, journalists and thought leaders in the sport are saying about your team. This will allow you to identify potential rumors, opinions or trends at their source, before they become general, and harder to reverse.
2. Partner with your regional influencers and build a real community
The sense of community has always been a key aspect of sports. Start by identifying your local influencers and the people your fans (or potential fans) follow and trust. They can spread healthy messages among their audiences, strengthen the sense of belonging and create excitement around your team. Conversion to sales tickets will come naturally as you attract a wider range of consumers and create a more loyal community.
3. Influencer marketing is an endurance sport, not a sprint
At this point we’ve all become experts at spotting influencers who are solely driven by money. It’s the type of noise in our feeds we all scroll through with despise.
When you’re considering influencers to partner with always keep their authenticity in mind. Start by vetting an influencer's content to ensure there is foundational alignment of values for you to build a strong, long term relationship.
Advocacy together with authenticity have become lucrative among marketers for a reason. Keep in mind: you’re looking for partners, not billboards.
4. It's not about your win-loss record; Influencer Marketers need to think win-win
Influencer Marketing is about creating win-win relationships with your influencers. As guardians of NFL brands, you have no excuse not to provide your audience with the most exciting content, consistently.
Influencers know better than you how to create content that resonates with their audience and to maintain a high engagement. It’s in an influencer’s best interest to create the most captivating content possible, and it’s in your best interest to simply give them the tools to do it.
Give these influencer's the experience you wish you could provide for all your fans. Invite them to meet the players, visit the locker room, have them participate in training exercises, team events… I’m sure you have so many great opportunities up your sleeves!
5. Make football cool again
Yes, we all know that it’s hard to get kids’ attention nowadays. Gen Z is not only your future fan base but already a big influence in general in society. Leaving them behind is a mistake in your strategy.
Gen Z is looking for people they can trust, and more importantly that they identify themselves with. Fortunately, there is a way to engage them, because these are the core principles of influencer marketing. The only reason they are hard to get, is that (even more than Millenials) they demand that brands create relevant and valuable content, constantly. Engaging this generation as a part of your team’s community will help you modernize the image of the club and increase your visibility.
6. Inspire yourself from other leading sports
You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Other professional sports are more advanced than the NFL when it comes to influencer marketing.
The NBA, large European soccer clubs or even a couple digitally progressive NFL teams could be a good starting point for you to start looking at.
Study them first, benchmark what works and what doesn’t, and monitor them actively. Trends come and go fast, not everything that worked yesterday will work for today. It’s important you look at the type of people they are working with and inspire yourself in the way they are activating their influencers, as well as in the content they’re producing.
7. Measure your success and benchmark it against your competitors
Start by asking yourself, “what do we want to accomplish with our influencers?” Once you have an answer, put some real numbers behind what you expect them to deliver by defining KPIs. Remember that influencer marketing is an on-going process, so use data to keep refining your strategy.
Ultimately, you need to lead with insights across the board. Optimize the measurement of the effectiveness of your influencer campaigns by benchmarking your team against your competitors. Analyze your share of voice among the thought leaders in the space and keep track of your progress, because at the end you can’t really win the Super Bowl if you’re not data-driven!