We’ve all been waiting for it, and it’s finally here. Football season. The iconic, all-American season of tailgating, football paraphernalia, crazed Sunday nights, NFL games, big-budget advertising, and — online gameplay?
That’s right. Fantasy Football and the NFL football season have become synonymous over the past few years, with tons of avid football fans flocking to the fantasy draft to build teams of their own. As managers of their own Fantasy Football teams, users can create leagues and pit their players against teams managed by their friends, families, coworkers, and more. Not only has Fantasy Football really taken off since its inception in 1963, it has become ingratiated into the NFL football culture — Fantasy Football is now the single most important marketing tool for the NFL, bringing in an estimated 19 million participants.
As B2B marketers, we know that there’s always something to learn from marketing success stories like these, even if we’re not B2C companies (or even remotely interested in football). Let’s take a look at a few important B2B marketing lessons inspired by Fantasy Football:
Create an Immersive Experience
One of the reasons that Fantasy Football has been so successful is because of the immersive, realistic experience it creates for its users. Not only can users participate in a draft to field their teams, they can also trade, add and drop players, change up their rosters, and monitor games and scores. It’s this experience that creates such investment in gameplay among users, and provides such an important lesson for B2B marketers. As marketers, we should always be thinking of ways to build an experience around our marketing campaigns, whether that’s an interactive website or microsite, a helpful video series, or a contest hosted across social platforms.
Encourage Collaboration and User-Generated Content
Another big selling point of Fantasy Football is the collaborative nature of the game. Users can play with groups of friends and coworkers rather than against a computer, adding another fun, experiential aspect to the game. They can also participate in message boards where they can chat, talk trash, and even create content like images. This is an important point for B2B marketers, especially since some of the most successful marketing campaigns involve collaboration and user-generated content. If you’ve ever hosted a contest, or collected submissions of client work to put together a collaborative piece, then you know how powerful collaboration can be, and how much more enthusiasm these projects can generate.
Build Hype for Marketing Programs
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into Fantasy Football, like planning out draft picks (and even participating in mock drafts). This builds hype for the start of the actual season, when users will be able to see their teams in action and compete against the other teams in their league. Marketers should also be trying to generate hype before the launch of their marketing campaigns, whether they’re promoting webinars, an event, or a cool new blog series. Try scheduling out social promotions, rewarding the people who sign up or participate first, or talking to your partners to leverage their networks.
Keep Your Audience Engaged
Fantasy Football is great at generating hype. It’s also great at maintaining it throughout the duration of the season. Fantasy Football participants are more invested in the NFL season than your average football fan, since they have to keep an eye on all of their players scattered across several different teams. In fact, people who have Fantasy Football teams often watch football games that they normally wouldn’t, just so that they can see how their players are performing. This is the kind of engagement that marketers should always strive for with their campaigns. Some classic ways to maintain engagement throughout a campaign are to aim for multiple touch points with prospects or clients, incorporate visuals and interactive content whenever possible, and include client testimonials or case studies where appropriate.
Know How to Adapt
Unfortunately, despite the massive amount of preparation that often goes into your Fantasy draft, something is bound to go wrong at some point during the season. One of your key players will get injured, or won’t get the playing time you predicted, and you’ll have to adjust your strategy to cope with the change. This is equally common in the marketing world (remember all of those stories you’ve heard about companies having to “pivot?”), which is why it’s so important that marketers be able to think on their feet. Did one of your marketing campaigns not have the results you hoped it would? Did you send out an email blast to the wrong list? Don’t waste time beating yourself up — use those creative problem-solving skills to come up with a unique solution.
What other parallels can you draw between marketing and Fantasy Football? Let us know in the comments!