3 Things the NFL Draft Can Teach You About Marketing

Almost a month ago, fans from all over the United States tuned into ESPN to watch the National Football League Draft. The Draft is a three-day spectacle that typically deals with hundreds of millions of dollars, and the emotional and mental stability of millions of Americans. As fun as it is to watch, there is a lot more to the NFL Draft than the introduction of new players into the league. There are also quite a few lessons for marketers.

While you may not be hiring high-profile athletes for a franchise front office, you can’t overlook the marketing lessons from the NFL Draft.

1. Refocus the conversation.

The NFL can take a lot of pride in the fact that they can take over the national sports conversation even in their off-season. It’s an impressive feat, especially considering that the Draft draws in more than just the everyday franchise fans. It is a testament to the aggressive NFL marketing campaign and the deep cultural importance that American’s place on professional football.

As a marketer, it is important for you to refocus your audience’s conversation around your brand. For your events and product launches to be successful your audience has to be focused on you. In the construction industry many original equipment manufacturers (OEM) will launch their products at industry events like CONEXPO-Con/Agg. Before the show, they build massive multi-channel campaigns that focus attention on their announcement. They use media brands to advertise to their audience through print, digital advertisements to leverage the online targeting options, and content to help drive the conversation around their equipment.

ConExpo ad

Refocusing the conversation around your brand is important to your success, whether it be for events, product launches, or even counteracting downward sales trends.

2. Don’t go in blind.

Every year talent evaluators, ESPN commentators, and fans from across the nation create mock drafts, trying to make the most beneficial matches between player and franchise. Of course, when draft day comes along everyone turns out to have been mostly wrong.

For general managers, scouts, and coaches drafting is serious business. If they make the wrong picks they could very easily lose their jobs. To help make sure that they are making the right picks, they often look at all the available data on players. They look at film, combine intelligence tests and every other available metric to make sure they are choosing the right people for the job.

As a marketer you also need use the metrics available to you. You have to look at all of the available data to make sure the marketing channels you utilize are the ones that will best accomplish your objectives. You have to be sure that your “players”, whether they be content, social media, print, SEM or banner ads, are in a position to achieve a big impact and a justifiable ROI. If you are using marketing channels that aren’t helping you accomplish your goals then you are wasting money.

If you aren’t doing the research and making informed picks to have a successful marketing campaign, it could be your job on the line.

3. Partner with other brands.

Over 30 years ago, the NFL and ESPN partnered together to televise the Draft, a crazy idea at the time. Fast forward to today and it is one of the biggest sporting events, bringing together millions of sports fans in a three day event. Not only do they broadcast the event live, but they also use content and video to promote and keep the event front of mind beyond just the few hours that it is actually happening. They even partner with well-known brands like Budweiser and Verizon to promote the event through signage, displays, and even mobile apps.


Cross-branding partnerships are a good way to help you promote yourself through channels and audiences that aren’t normally available to you. If you know that a company is trying to reach the same audience that you are, you can partner with them to build audience awareness. These partnerships can create some interesting opportunities.

OEMs and aftermarket manufacturers with big marketing budgets could become a major sponsor and presenter (what some groups may call marquis or platinum sponsorships) for events like the Great American Trucking Show or even smaller, intimate events like the CCJ Summer and Fall Symposiums. For those with smaller budgets, you might partner a public relations campaign with content deliverers. Partnering with other brands to market to the same audience can give you positive exposure to your target audience through multiple channels.

Partnering with other brands gives you an opportunity to build positive brand exposure and awareness to your target audience.

The NFL season is still months away but marketing does not have an off-season. As a marketer, you have to constantly build campaigns and convert their target audiences into qualified leads. But by analyzing the lessons learned from the NFL Draft you can be in the best possible position to make sure your team will succeed in the long term.

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