football image resized Those of you in tune with headline news know that this past Monday was a big day in the sports world, marking the end of a 132-day lockout of the NFL players .  The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of the NFL players’ union expired in March, and the fact that a new contract had not been put in place before the previous one had expired resulted in a prolonged delay in negotiations of a new contract.  Meanwhile, all player activity, including training for the upcoming season, had been put on hold.  The two sides of the battle – the owners and the players – struggled to come to terms on a wide variety of issues, including salary caps, free agency, and the number of games played in the season.  The entire process of settling a new contract has evoked widespread attention from the media and sports fans alike.

As marketers, what can we learn from this whole ordeal in the football world?  Here are 3 major lessons from the lockout that can help you improve your marketing:

  1. Be aware of your audience.   The NFL lockout has attracted tons of media coverage for over 4 months now.  And what is it, exactly, that all this hype is about?  It’s about how the NFL owners and players are going to divide up $9 billion.  They’re quibbling over who deserves more and who’s going to get less.  And meanwhile, who’s hearing about this story in the news?  Your average American who is probably struggling to come up with $100 just to buy a ticket to a game.  

    One of the most important concepts in marketing is to always keep your audience in mind.  The goal is to maintain maximum control over your image so that you can set a positive image for your company.  Those involved in the NFL contract negotiations simply failed to consider their audience, and proceeded to give off a rather negative image.  Make sure you think about your actions from the perspective of your target audience before carrying them out, and ask yourself, “What kind of image is this going to set for our company?”  If it's not a good one, you should probably reconsider.

  2. Be willing to invest in your marketing assets.   It’s important in all types of organizations to invest the necessary time, money, and energy to optimize your assets so that they perform better and more efficiently.  Once the NFL owners decided they were willing to spend the extra money to appease the players, and devote the time to working out a settlement, they were able to do so much faster, thereby actually protecting their players as valuable assets.

    With inbound marketing, your blog , Google rank , website , landing pages , social media presence paid search campaigns – these are your assets.  It’s absolutely crucial to recognize the value that these assets contribute to your company and your online presence, and to preserve this value.  Invest the time (and money, when necessary and smart) that is needed to optimize these assets and get the most out of them.  Don’t put them on hold like the lockout did to the football players, or you’ll impede them from helping you achieve your goal.

  3. Keep moving forward.   The lockout caused a complete standstill for the regular course of action that should have been followed to prepare for the upcoming football season.  132 days later, the owners and players finally came to an agreement , and are just now resuming training.  In order to reach this settlement, both sides had to make some concessions.  For example, one of the major stipulations that the owners had been insisting upon is a change from a 16-game season to an 18-game season with no increase in salary for the players.  The owners decided to put this request, along with multiple others, on hold for the time being, in favor of moving forward with the agreement.
    In marketing, it is essential to always be moving forward .  It’s easy to get caught up in details and smaller issues, but it’s important to know when to put something behind you and move on.  Always keep the end goal in mind, and stop and ask yourself “is this going to help me reach my goal faster, or is it slowing me down?”  If your answer is the latter, it’s time to escape your own lockout and push forward.

What are some other lessons marketers can take away from the NFL lockout?  Have you ever had any marketing “lockouts”?  How did you get out of them?

Originally published Jul 27, 2011 2:05:00 PM, updated June 10 2021


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