What Can Marketers Learn From Fantasy Football?

The NFL season has begun in earnest. And that means millions of Americans are spending their Sundays and Monday nights huddled around TV watching football. It also guarantees that millions of those same fans will be obsessing over their fantasy football drafts and lineups.
However, as I obsessed over my fantasy lineup, it struck me how many lessons marketers can learn from fantasy football. Today, instead of logging into your Yahoo or ESPN fantasy accounts, let’s look at a few of the most poignant lessons.
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1. Know the Landscape

One of the worst mistakes you can make coming into a fantasy draft is not doing any research, especially if it’s your first time. Even veteran fantasy players and NFL fans should take a good look at the landscape.
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Why? Simple. You need to know what is going on. A lot of things happen in the off-season, and they can have a big effect on your fantasy hopes and dreams.

The same is true for marketers.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of your industry is critical for marketers. You need to know general industry information and audience specific demographic information, media usage habits, pain points, and so on.
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It’s a lot to know and pay attention to, but your future success or failure can depend on your knowledge. Choosing the wrong marketing channels, content, messaging, and offers can be disastrous.
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2. Reevaluate Every Week

Just because your team played well last week doesn’t mean each and every starter should stay on your roster. Sure, there are some players you probably keep in your fantasy lineup (cough, cough . . . Adrian Peterson or Rob Gronkowski), but nobody should have a guaranteed spot. You need to reevaluate every week: did someone play well, are there favorable matchups, is someone in a slump, who is on bye?

Nowhere is this more true than marketing.

Every campaign is your game day, and that means you need to optimize for success. You can’t do that if you’re relying on the same channels regardless of your objectives, goals, and results.
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Understanding your landscape will play into this. Maybe you’ve seen research showing a growing interest in Facebook and YouTube, or maybe you’re seeing how important print is to your audience. Either way, you have to know where your audience is.

Once you know that, you need to dig into your campaign analytics.

Prior campaign performance is a great indicator of how well a channel might perform in the future. It’s also where you can better judge your own marketing and advertising experiments. For instance, if you scaled back your print spend and your search volume decreased, you might want to allocate more money back to print.
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3. Sleepers, Sleepers, Sleepers

Every fantasy player can tell you they are looking for a sleeper. Everybody is looking for a player whom they can pick up off waiver wires or late in the draft that will have a big impact in the season. It’s hard to predict, but it does happen.
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Marketers too need to be looking for a sleeper, but this is a little different. Sure, you’re always looking for a channel where you can put in a little money and accomplish big goals. But few marketing channels are consistent in that way.

Most often, your performance is reliant on targeting, messaging, offers, and creative.

So what exactly is a sleeper in terms of marketing? Well, you could be looking for the above, but you might also be looking for a place where you can build a community beyond your normal marketing fold.
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For instance, think Instagram or YouTube. In many cases, these platforms are highly underused by marketers in the trucking and construction industries. There isn’t much audience research for Instagram either. However, if you have money and/or time, this could be the perfect place to build a community around your brand without vying with others for your audience’s attention.

To find a sleeper, you have to try some new things.

Fantasy football is fun, allowing football fanboys to obsess over games and players, but on the surface it doesn’t have a lot of commonalities with marketing. However, if you look close enough, you can learn some unexpected lessons in a lot of unexpected places.
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