What happens when you combine a sport that millions of people are passionate about, with a marketing tactic that is out of this world?
You get what has become one of the most defining sporting events in India in the past decade!
The Indian Premier League (IPL) started with a blast, and 10 years later, it continues to reign supreme – in TRP ratings and viewership. The franchise is synonymous with huge brands and big stars, and the money exchanged is billions (Star Sports bought television rights to IPL last year for a staggering $2.55 billion dollars, an equivalent of Rs 16,347 crores).
So why exactly does IPL attract all the big guns and the money? Are there lessons to learn for us in marketing?
Fortunately the answer is YES! So let’s dive straight in (pun intended).
No need to reinvent the wheel
Did the IPL invent the game of cricket? No. Did it invent the twenty-twenty format of the game? No. Did it introduce the concept of franchising of teams, combining local players with international players, or using cheerleaders to grab eyeballs? Definitely not! So what then did the IPL do?
If you guessed, mixing ideas from successful sporting competitions across the globe to form a potent combination, then pat yourself on the back.
Good marketing doesn’t always have to begin with a unique idea. What’s more important is better understanding of your customer. A seasoned digital marketer keeps a keen eye on his audience, and turns his data into strategies that will work uniquely for his mix.
Go big or go home
The word synonymous with IPL is ‘Big’, whether it’s the stature of players, the sponsorship fees or the marketing budget. The folks at IPL like to keep it big, and lucky for us, we can take a leaf out of their pages for our own marketing efforts.
Remember, starting small is not a crime, but staying small is.
When it comes to content, thinking big is usually associated with virality, and making content go viral is about tugging the right emotions. According to Marketing guru, Neil Patel, this can be achieved in 3 ways.
Research the web to see what topics in your space are gaining virality, and then create better versions of those topics, instead of creating entirely new ones.
Once you’ve done all the hard work of researching and writing, promote. Use the 80:20 rule of content marketing which says, 80% of your efforts in creating content must be utilised in promotions, while the remaining 20% must be used for content creation.
Lastly, be consistent with your content and release more and more fresh content, that’s high on quality.
Don’t please everyone
Even though the IPL introduced Indians to a whole new format of their favourite game and became an instant bestseller, there were still puritans who discredited the franchise. Cricket pundits claimed the game was pulling away the attention from test matches and one day internationals, and many opposed to international players hogging all the limelight.
The IPL was garnering attention far more for the controversies than for the quality of cricket involved, and this had some experts worried. But did all the bad press and criticism stop the organizers from going bigger with the game? No.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to marketing, and you certainly can’t please every customer. It is thus advisable to define a target audience, one that is tightly aligned to your brand’s ethos, values and emotions, than to cast a net that’s wide, thin and not meant for everyone.
Listen to the market
We are leaving you with one last snippet of wisdom that can be picked up from the IPL franchise.
The creators have always been receptive to feedback, and fine-tuned the series incorporating any change they felt would increase their viewership. Whether it is scheduling the matches in the evenings so that people can watch after office hours or introducing innovative photography techniques, the IPL always gave viewers more of what they wanted.
‘Customer is king’ is an adage that will be repeated time and time again in marketing, because simply put, without customers there is no business.
Incorporate consumer feedback into your daily marketing efforts and always be on the lookout for more. Give the consumer what they want, and rest assured, that they will return the favour.
There you go. Those are 4 little snippets of wisdom that every digital marketer can learn from the IPL franchise. Incorporate these learnings into your daily marketing efforts and watch your engagement ratings skyrocket.
In 2019, it is estimated that more than 2.77 Billion social media users will be active on the Internet. However, only 36% of respondents to a B2B content marketing study say they are very committed to building a strong social media presence.
There might be instances where you feel your company has missed out on key elements of the social media bandwagon, but fret not. Here are 6 tips to help you skyrocket likes and reputation of your business, in the digital sphere.
1. Start with defining your personality
a. How will your brand engage with clients online? Does your content style necessitate a serious and formal approach or would a slightly casual tone make you stand out?
b. Linguistic style: Does your industry demand frequent usage of acronyms and jargons, or would you engage better with a simplistic style?
c. End goal of being on social media: Are you online to educate? To rake in likes or to entertain and influence?
2. Be more human
In the case of Social Media, conversing like a human, can prove more effective in getting digital traction. Although the general notion might still be to go with a formal corporate approach, responding to comments or enquiries with first names of clients, or blending in elements of humor and wit does help steer your social media growth.
ProTip: Build engaging stories, flaunt recent case studies, or even a good CSR post.
3. Understand what shakes your reader
Many readers are predictable. They tend to favor a certain piece of content, over and over again. While some are inspired by motivational quotes, others might prefer how-to posts. Observe and listen to the voices of your reader, then filter high-grade content accordingly.
4. Stay close to current trends
By gauging moods and trends, it is possible to steer your digital trajectory, upwards. For ex. if you were to write about “tips to keep your data secure” at the peak of the Ransomware malware attack, instead of during peak festivities, chances are you’ll get a lot of reader attention.
5. Tease to please
Any accomplished writer or journalist will swear by the importance of an awesome headline. While the body of your post might have content that can potentially turn around fortunes, it can easily be missed, owing to your boring headline. Keep them short, mysterious and unique, while maintaining a certain degree of suspense and interest for later.
6. Get employee buy-in
76% of respondents in a survey said, they trust content shared by other individuals, as compared to those shared by company pages. Additionally, messages shared by employees reached 561% further as compared to messages shared through official handles. It is imperative to create an employee culture that takes pride in the accomplishments of the company, and where in turn, the employees can engage in the most reliable and effective marketing method known to man i.e. word of mouth.
In the end, while it might seem that great social media footprint depends on great content, it is of equal prominence to take into consideration the timing, research and marketing – to ensure maximum impact.
So you’re ready with a startup idea and are raring to take the next step forward. Pat yourself on your back for being courageous enough to give wings to your dreams and deviating from the sheltered path adopted by 95% of your contemporaries!
It is no mean feat — especially when the stakes are stacked against you.
Anyway, back to what we’re discussing.
What should be your next step after coming up with a potentially great startup idea?
Well, it could be anything depending on what your priorities are and how serious you are about your new venture.
Yes, there’s the need to validate your idea further by taking feedback from business consultants or better still — fellow entrepreneurs (as they’ve been in the same boat already and know what’s it like to make it to the other end) — perfecting your pitches, focusing on funding strategies, eyeing a beta launch etc.
Now, don’t get us wrong. All these are perfectly helpful and necessary steps.
But at the core of your startup idea should be a decision to keep things as simple as possible amid all the clutter, chaos and confusion.
For starters, focus on enhancing the quality of your product and make it so awesome that its awesomeness becomes the differentiator. Your potential customers should find your product so damn good that they keep coming back to you and spread the word around.
Difference between a listed product and a product that sells is the same as that between a Copywriter and Marketer.
If you’re a product company, follow the rule of 5 W’s – to create seductive and informative copy that will motivate your customers to click “buy”.
This should be the starting point of your next step, really.
But let’s face it. Any product or service, no matter how brilliant it sounds on paper, needs to reach people who’re going to benefit from it. Only then will it give your business the oxygen it needs to survive and grow.
In other words, you need a starting point to get to that starting point — to convince your audience about why they should care about your idea in the first place.
Will it make a real difference in their lives? More importantly, how do they know that it will?
Pay attention to the second question as it holds the key to your business’s potentially limitless expansion. It also gives you a cue on what your next move should be — spreading the word through the wonderful vehicle of marketing.
Not just any marketing, but content marketing. And not because it prefixes ‘content’ before ‘marketing.’
After all, it’s not without a reason that it has captivated the imagination of almost all leading brands worldwide. According to research, 75% of marketers are increasing their spend on content marketing and 70% of the audience would rather hear about a company via articles and not advertisements.
The fact is this: content marketing almost always works, when done right. It is also way cheaper than traditional marketing (by as much as 62% according to Neil Patel), and generates about 3X as many leads with a much lower CAC.
This means more leads at lesser costs! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of free inexpensive channels by which you can create and share content to a broader audience.
In fact, content marketing is the only approach that allows you to expand your business using zero spend. This makes it a godsend opportunity for startups that neither have the resources nor the experience to create and market the sheer volume of content that their larger counterparts do.
All you need is:
An internet connection
The ability and willingness to feel the pain points of your potential customers as your own and meet them right where they are.
An unending conviction in your business idea.
Beyond that, content marketing can be easily inter-weaved into practically any online strategy to amplify its results.
Keen to get more people to sign up to your email-list? It is content that impels them to act on the CTA.
Hit a deadlock on your next social media post? Sharing your recent blog post could be one simple yet mighty effective strategy. Again, content rules the roost.
Need to hone your SEO tactics? Relevant, timely and actionable content helps drive traffic and fortifies your SEO reach.
Seeking new ways to onboard your SaaS sign-ups and give critical pointers for expansion? Do it in style with content!
Want to connect with influencers? Speaking about them in/through your content gives you another happy reason to reach out to viewers on social media!
In a nutshell, content can and should become the foundation of your other strategies, including driving traffic to your website. It is an effective way of cementing your brand in the mind space of your audience by developing an authoritative voice. It informs your audience that you’re a desirable business to follow because you care about the reputation of not just your own brand, but also about your consumers (through their association with you).
In addition, it helps you maximize existing established audiences. As a case in point, the first 1,200 clients of Design Pickle were sealed through content — more specifically blog posts.
But you can’t just write a blog and expect a miracle, in the form of reach and virality. You have to wear a bunch of hats – content writer, editor, marketer, SEO specialist, customer service manager, among others.
Here are 5 things to do for your blog, before and after you hit “publish” – to get maximum reach:
According to founder Russ Perry, a large part of this phenomenal growth was owed to influential blogs. He points out that this idea gave him the impetus to keep generating content as he was answerable to his guest posters.
The best way for your startup to maximize this compelling strategy is selecting blogs which have a large audience and more importantly, are part of your (identified) target audience. Thankfully, you don’t need to base your plans on some of the biggest ones out there; there are many who may not be as big, but have a good, established audience base that you can look at.
Finally, as a startup, you have a great opportunity to show the way and lead the pack.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, the number of startups who’re happy with their content or with the effectiveness of their strategy are steadily increasing.
If you think about it calmly, you’ll agree that you do have room to lead the way or at least, be a forerunner. Look at the small size of your business as your biggest strength. Think about this: As a tiny player, you can be agile enough to devise strategy and take decisions on the fly.
Furthermore, you stand a better chance of building long-term relationships with your audience outside of ‘big business’ anonymity.
Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute agrees, “It’s so simple, yet so hard for even mid-sized companies to do this. With financial expectations on a quarterly basis at best, few larger companies have the patience to build a loyal relationship with an audience. In addition, budgets are set up as time-based campaigns, where short-term objectives take priority. That means the business tries to monetize the content program before the audience is ready (a big mistake)”.
There you go. As a startup, content marketing could be your single most effective growth channel. There is more than enough evidence to suggest that it is one of the best ways (if not the best) to help startups lead the high-stake pack.
More and more brands are realizing that content marketing affects every digital strategy they’re leveraging. But more than anything, it rekindles your audience’s faith in the source of information they value most — you.
Do you integrate content marketing in your growth strategy? Will you use it more proactively?