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.