5 Digital Marketing Lessons Learned from Fantasy Football

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 @ 02:31 PM

hk 20080207 footballstats resized 600Last week, I kicked off the football season with my eyes glued as much to my laptop as my television.  I’ve mentioned my media consumption habits before on the blog, but this Sunday was different.  I wasn’t surfing the usual internet haunts; I was playing fantasy football, along with an estimated 21 million other people around the world.

What started in the 1980’s as a way for only the geekiest of sports fans to take their obsession to the next level has become a mainstream phenomenon and very big business, thanks in no small part to the internet.  Fantasy football alone was estimated to be an $800 million industry last year, not counting the value it creates for the NFL. 

I’ve gone from being a casual NFL fan, watching one or two games a week before playing fantasy football, to spending all Sunday on the couch, cursing the networks for depriving me of the chance to watch my starting quarterback and running back by not showing Minnesota vs. San Diego in my hometown of Raleigh. 

Where I was once a reasonable, fair-weather Panthers fan (Cam Newton what what?!?!) I now am an obsessive, nit-picking football fiend, ravenously consuming every bit of content the NFL throws my way.  Thanks to fantasy, I can’t get enough football and I’m not alone:  


Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

Skip to 4:10 for Sports Journalist Mike Florio’s Angle on the Marketing Impact of Fantasy Football

Believe it or not, I’m not trying to pass off a post about my new favorite obsession as work.  Indeed, fantasy football is a tremendous marketing tool for the NFL.  A study conducted by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) found that:


The growth [of fantasy sports] has also been positive for the sports industry as a whole as fantasy sports players watch more game telecasts, buy more tickets and spend money at stadiums at a much higher rate than general sports fans. For example, 55% of fantasy sport players report watching more sports on television since they started playing fantasy sports

Isn’t this exactly the kind of response that we, as marketers, hope to generate online?  The growth of fantasy football means growth for the NFL.  Moreover, the intense interaction with NFL content required to play pushes fans to learn about players they would have otherwise ignored, and teams they never cared about.  Fantasy football sells the NFL’s product the way that rooting for the home team never could.

The interactive capacity of the web presents every marketer with this same opportunity.  Sure, your products or services may not be as fun or exciting to the customer as pro sports.  Few are.  But the principles that make fantasy football a successful marketing tool for the NFL can be applied to any digital marketing effort.


  1. Create Inherently Valuable Content – You hear this time and time again, but it bears repeating.  People ignore content that isn’t compelling.  Make sure that your blog posts, tweets, links etc. are not only relevant but also inherently valuable.  Nobody has to ask why people play fantasy football.  Its value is obvious, and your content’s should be too. 

  2. Be Consistent – The NFL and the media covering it don’t stop when the final whistle blows.  Fantasy players rely on updates, news, and analysis from the league every day of the week to make decisions that impact their team.  It’s fresh, relevant coverage that keeps fantasy players logging into their accounts every day, and keeps football on their minds (most spend over an hour a day thinking about fantasy football). 

  3. Integrate the Fan Experience – Playing fantasy football makes watching football better, and vice versa.  Ensure that your digital presence enhances your customers’ experiences with exclusive content, special deals, and responsive & tailored customer service.  Make sure that your most loyal customers are rewarded.

  4. Up Sell & Cross Sell – Fantasy football forces fans out of their comfort zone and gets them excited about new players and teams.  When your customers are used to consuming your content consistently, you have an open door to present them with opportunities to transact additional business with you.  Do not underestimate the revenues this can generate. 

  5. Profit from Partners – The NFL partners with television networks and websites to broadcast games, disseminate content, and facilitate fantasy competition.  Fantasy football’s popularity allows fantasy websites like ESPN.com and Yahoo! to rake in advertising revenues without charging for participation.  It’s a win-win situation.  Partnering with companies or consultants in complimentary industries to share each other’s content, guest blog, or jointly produce webinars will help you gain more exposure while providing better content to prospects and customers.

    Customers and prospects are more than willing to interact with your brand, provided the right content and engagement.  By applying these principles, marketers can engage their customers on a deeper level, creating more selling opportunities, more revenue, and greater customer satisfaction.

    If you need help putting together your digital marketing playbook, fill out the form to the right or the button below to sign up for a free consultation.  We’ll discuss your specific marketing goals, and show you how to create and distribute content that will boost interest and grow revenue.

      Click me


     And maybe you can help me figure out whether to start Dez Bryant or Robert Meachem this week...

    Tags: Social Media, Strategy, Fantasy Football, Integration

    Strategy - The Secret Sauce for Digital Marketing Success

    Posted by Tim O'Rourke on Thu, Jul 28, 2011 @ 05:00 PM

    Who can forget the infamous “dot com” bubble where business plans never showed a profit, when neither VCs nor VPs knew why their companies existed other than to show off some cool technology. Unfortunately, in Web 2.0, there is again potential for some glorious implosions.

    Like the expanded professional sports leagues has reduced the quality of the average professional athlete, the sheer number of digital media consultants tells you that the depth of experience level per consultant is paper thin. Certainly, social media, email marketing, website optimization, PPC and other tools for digital marketing make sense in many situations. The key is knowing the business strategy well enough to know which tools support the achievement of the business’ strategic objectives.

    As a subsidiary of a 40 year old business consulting company, we have access to seasoned strategists and the resources necessary to integrate digital channels with your marketing strategy to achieve real and ongoing results. The path to profitable digital marketing is a four step process:

    Consulting Process

    Unless such a process is used, you might as well be throwing digital mud against the wall to see if anything sticks. Stop wasting your time and start getting real, quantifiable results from your digital marketing. Schedule your consultation today. It cost nothing to discuss the your goals, our process, and how to align your digital marketing for maximum ROI.

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Strategy, M.Y. Edge, Strategic Process, Integration

    +1 for Business: Google+ Streamlines Social Media Marketing

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 @ 01:13 PM

    Google +1I tweeted last week that Google+ is already a “digital darling” mere days after its release into the wild, and based on the buzz coming from the press (no pun intended), I’m not the only one who thinks so.

    After spending some time playing around in my own Google+ account, I’ve started to see why friends, co-workers and the media are swarming what I’ve heard some skeptics refer to as a “just another Facebook.” While at first glance, it bears more than a striking resemblance to Facebook, leading many to herald it as the ‘Facebook Killer’ or at least debate its status as such, my experiences with Google+ indicate that it’s far more than a simple Facebook competitor. In fact, as others have posited, perhaps Google+ is a bigger threat to Twitter than it is to Facebook.

    Google+ adopts the same asymmetrical user relationship as Twitter (one user can follow another’s content without the other reciprocating) while granting users richer social networking features to rival Facebook. Google+ is just as useful for broadcasting content as it is for maintaining personal relationships. The parallels between traditional broadcast media and Twitter and the familiarity with how to take advantage of them are no doubt a major reason why businesses swarmed to the channel in the first place. And while Facebook has implemented similar broadcasting features with its news feed and later with dedicated Facebook Pages, Google+ allows you to broadcast to your existing social network without needing to direct friends to an entirely separate page, making it easier to leverage for marketing purposes.

    While Google is hardly doing something revolutionary by combining the best features  of Facebook and Twitter, the centrality of Cirlces in Google+’s functionality provides users with a much more intuitive method of filtering their streams and publishing content for specific social subsets than either rival service does. By allowing users to segment their social network any way they wish, and using those segments as the basis for networking and publishing, Google+ elegantly navigating the privacy minefield that Facebook has seemingly hobbled through for years.

    Everything Google+ brings to the table is good news for businesses. While Google is only supporting formal business accounts on an extremely limited basis at the moment, Google+’s asymmetrical relationships mean that marketers will be able to easily apply their Twitter strategy to Google+ while having their content displayed in-line with more socially oriented content to the end user. 

    The mechanics of Circles allow businesses to segment their followers based on their level of engagement, tailoring content more appropriately to prospects and customers by their position in the funnel.  Additionally, independent contractors, small business owners, and other individuals wishing to leverage their personal social networks for business purposes can post promotional content to the appropriate connections without spamming social connections. 

    Meanwhile, integration between Google+ and Google’s bread and butter search is inevitable, granting businesses more results page real estate as content posted through a business page appears alongside organic listings. Google needs only to integrate its suite of other business tools (AdWords + social targeting, product feeds and Checkout within business pages, etc.) with these already-apparent strengths to make Google+ an even more powerful marketing asset.

    What we’re seeing with Google+ is a refinement of the social channel; taking the real-time broadcasting power of Twitter, combining it with the compelling social features of Facebook, and using them to augment Google’s already superior search capabilities. With social networking, content aggregation and sharing features making it easier for users to find the content most relevant to them, Google+ may have finally cracked the social search code, which is good news for users and businesses alike.

    If you’re considering marketing your business or non-profit organization via Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or any other social channels, our consultants can help you to choose the right channel, craft a sound strategy, build your following, and monitor your progress. If you’d like professional advice on any or all of these crucial steps in social media marketing fill out the Free Consultation form to the right and we’ll contact you, free of charge, to answer all your questions and put you on the road to social marketing success!

    Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Google+, Search, Advertising, Integration, Twitter

    Financial Institutions Need Digital Marketing Strategy and Risk Management Policies

    Posted by Tim O'Rourke on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 @ 06:55 PM

    risk reward diceRegulators of financial institutions are concerned about digital media, and while a great deal of thought has gone into maintaining security of digital banking transactions, not much has been done with social media and other “inbound marketing” tools. In the uncontrollable world of social media, bank and credit union employees, as well as their customers and members, can engage in risky behaviors without thinking about the ramifications. Yet, the financial industry needs these tools in order to communicate with customers and the public at large in the new digital world.

    The fact that social media has risks need not stop a bank or credit union from embracing an inbound marketing and customer/community engagement strategy. Banks are in the business of taking risks, but they need to get a better handle on the risks associated with digital marketing. Since no money transactions occur in most social media channels, the risks are more related to the security of private information and damage to your brand.

    Every financial institution needs a Social Media Policy. Regulators will be looking for one the next time they do an IT examination (funny that they think of social media as IT). The policy should address the dos and don’ts of using social media for all employees and how to deal with situations in which customers make mistakes in your branded media. Common sense should be the rule, but in today’s litigious society you need to be clear about protecting customer information and protecting the company’s reputation. In helping banks and credit unions develop these policies, we have seen good policies and policies that backfired on the Company. An Australian bank set a policy that employees could be disciplined if their friends and family members posted negative things about the bank in any social media. Employees and their union took the bank to task and the bank finally admitted it was a mistake. They changed their policy.

    orienteeringIf you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Policy guides strategy and if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy, you are likely to make mistakes in your policy. So, before a bank or credit union sets out to develop a social media policy, an important first step is to think through the overall plan for digital media, inbound marketing and use of social media.  We’ll do more on bank and credit union inbound marketing strategy in future blogs. 

    We would love to hear from banks and credit unions about what they are doing to plan their digital media strategies and mitigate the risks. Call us at 919-732-2835 or click here and complete the form on our home page and we will contact you.

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Banks, Financial Institutions, Risk Management, Banking, Integration, Credit Unions

    A (New) Media Plan for 2011

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Dec 30, 2010 @ 03:27 PM

    distractedAs the 2010 draws to a close, smart businesses are taking a moment to step back and take in the big picture of how they spent their year. For more than a few folks in marketing, this time is being used to evaluate their successes and failures mixing it up with competitors across print, broadcast media, and online communities, networks, feeds and directories.

    If you’re a marketer and you’re not ADD already, you’d better start fragmenting your attention now because the people you’re trying to reach certainly are, at least with respect to the way they consume their media. According to Nielsen, 60% of television viewers are simultaneously using the internet on their computers. I count myself among that 60% often, and the odds are good that you’re right there with me (if so, mute the TV now and focus on this article!).

    While it’s almost impossible to gauge exactly how people are dividing their attention between their computer, tablet or smartphone and their TV, the point is that people are dividing it. This audience behavior can be overwhelming for marketers who want to embrace new media, but aren’t sure how to target campaigns and measure ROI. As Simon Mainwaring points out in his excellent article, What happens when everything is social media?:

    Each media, whether its the iPad, mobile phone, television, movie, VOD, Xbox, game console, tablet or Hulu, has its own ‘use case’ (why someone is selecting that device) that has to be cross-referenced with the others and then measured as a whole. Only then can you know if your marketing spend is having any impact on share of conversation, brand awareness or sales.

    Effective brands must now define themselves in prospects’ minds as the aggregate of the content and conversations about them (controlled and earned coverage). To truly communicate the value of your brand, you can no longer dominate one medium at the expense of the others. Chances are good that your prospects are just too distracted to effectively absorb your value proposition through a single channel.

    How then, should marketers deal with this fragmentation of attention in 2011? Don’t start this year’s plan by budgeting media. Start instead by defining or reexamining your brand’s core value proposition. Refine it until it’s elegant (you’d be surprised at how many brands never take the time to define their unique value proposition in the first place!). Be able to tell prospects what you can do for them simply and effectively. Once you’ve defined your brand’s message, consider how best to communicate that message, and choose your media based on the capabilities that each brings to the table.

    Traditional, one-to-many channels are refined and well understood. But they’re now sharing the stage with a more engaging and less controllable channel in the internet. Online, marketing objectives are won and lost by how brands contribute to the ongoing conversation, not only about themselves, but about their areas of expertise and influence.

    This year, it will be vital to approach each channel based on its ability to reach and engage prospects, and to develop a plan that takes advantage of the unique strengths of each. When most of your prospects are engaging multiple media, simultaneously, mastery of a single channel will no long be enough to succeed. Quality marketing in a magazine looks very different from quality marketing on twitter, and with each year, fewer prospects have the time or attention to give to content that doesn’t match its medium.

    To your marketing success in 2011!

    Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Television, Strategy, Marketing Integration, Media Planning, Advertising, Integration

    The Consumer Decision Journey - Turn Customers Into Salespeople

    Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 @ 07:11 PM

    If you’re reading this blog, odds are you’re very familiar with the sales funnel concept for turning prospects into customers. The funnel is tried and true, and about as marketing 101 as it gets. It’s helped countless businesses to identify opportunities to refine their marketing processes and build their customer base. 

    However, recently the sales funnel has been failing to account for the nuances of the modern purchase decision process. Consumers are more empowered than ever thanks to the social nature of the internet, and the funnel’s one-way nature neglects existing customers’ abilities to give feedback and interact with brands and other potential customers.

    Last year, McKinzie developed a new marketing model that effectively illustrates the added dynamics of consumer feedback and the socialization of the buying process. They call it the Consumer Decision Journey, and it’s already beginning to pay big dividends to businesses that are embracing it.

    It’s a bit more complicated than the sales funnel, but it elegantly describes an admittedly complex process involving a variety of forces.

    Consumer Decision Journey

    I highly recommend developing an intimate understanding of the consumer decision journey’s key concepts, but if you’ve only got a few minutes, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better illustration of those concepts at work than this video:

    Your customers might be more effective than your best salespeople. How are you creating passionate advocates? What are you doing to empower your happy customers?

    Tags: Social Media, Digital Marketing, Strategy, Marketing Integration, Marketing Strategy, Consumer Decision Journey, Integration