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15 Parallels Between Football and Content Marketing

By: Ryan Kettler


It’s official—the 2014 football season has begun and I couldn’t be happier.

Football is a glorious team sport that’s just as much about the individual as it is the team. Without the individuals, there would be no team, and without the team, there would be no football.

If you share my passion for this sport, I respect you. If you ever had the privilege of playing this sport, I commend you. If you’re a B2B marketer and are part of the 93% doing content marketing this year, I think you’ll find this post relatable.

After thinking about it, I realized there are a lot of similarities between football and content marketing. I’d like to share 15 of them with you today:

1. Goals

In football, you, your team, and all your competitors are all fighting to achieve the same goal: The Lombardi Trophy. Winning the Super Bowl solidifies your place in NFL lore. There are lots of other goals that are set during the season, both long- and short-term. You have practice goals, weight lifting goals, individual game goals, divisional goals, conference goals, and the big Super Bowl goal.

Same thing goes for content marketing. You must have some goals to strive for. Some of the most common goals relate to performance—visitors, downloads, leads, users, customers—while others aim for engagement—social shares, comments.

2. Audience

Some people are fans of multiple teams. I was born and raised in Illinois, a son of a Joliet native, so I root for the Chicago Bears. I’ve lived in North Carolina for over half my life so now my team is the Carolina Panthers. I like both teams. Some teams represent geographic areas as opposed to just their respective cities/states. The New England Patriots represent multiple states, the Denver Broncos have fans in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and my own Carolina Panthers represent both North and South Carolina.

In content marketing, your audience can be spread out all over the world because of the reach of the internet. I know I’m a fan of multiple blogs, not just one. You share your audience with other people. These people can easily become your co-marketing partners and promote your content, and vice versa.

3. Teamwork

It’s no secret that without teamwork, there’s no way you will win football games. There are three facets to the game; offense, defense, and special teams. Any one of those can win or lose a game.

Make your content marketing a team effort. It makes it easier to spread out the workload and gives your blog some unique perspectives and variety. Don’t neglect your co-marketing partners either. Working with them builds your audience and produces better results. You can’t do content marketing alone, so give BoostSuite a try if you want to do more by having others promote your business and content.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

These NFL professionals didn’t get this way overnight. They continually work hard and tried to be the best ever since they were little boys. It takes years of effort and an insatiable tenacity. You need that same hunger with your content marketing. If you don’t want it bad, and practice, you won’t get any better or see improved results.

Timing and rhythm are crucial in football. An extra millisecond can mean the difference between a 90-yard touchdown or a sack-safety. Same with content marketing. You have to stay relevant and timely with your content so make sure you read other industry blogs often to find out what the hot topics are.

5. Experience

It’s tough for rookies to be immediately successful, that’s why seasoned veterans are prized possessions. It’s also tough for players who have moved from one team to another to gel with their new team. That’s why having experience is so important.

The more experience you have with content marketing, the easier it is and the more effective you’ll be at it.

6. Leadership

The NFL is a business itself, and each of the teams is a separate entity within. Head coaches are the CEOs of teams, providing long-term vision, with each position coach like a different VP. Some coaches are already reputable and proven, therefore they’re looked up to, some are new and have to prove themselves by winning.

Leading a content marketing strategy is a lot like being a coach. You have to manage multiple processes, work with different personalities, and tie everything together to form a cohesive unit and a polished finish product. You should also leverage the audiences of thought-leaders in your industry as they’re like the proven coaches that everyone respects and listens to.

7. Strategy

The offensive coordinator determines the best strategy based on what the defense gives him and what weapons he has available. It’s the art of war. The play book is just like all of the different marketing tactics you can use as a business.

Without a sound content marketing strategy, you’ll be confused and lost and won’t see any results.

8. Competitive Research

This also ties into strategy, but doing your homework is a huge part of football and content marketing.

You have to know what your competition is doing and prepare week to week, or else you’ll have no clue what to do and you’ll get clobbered.

9. Discipline

You have to stay disciplined on and off the football field in order to be successful. Penalties and blown coverage assignments can lose games. Undisciplined players who get suspended for their extracurricular activities hurt both themselves and their teams.

If you don’t stay disciplined with your content marketing, you won’t be successful with it. Develop your content schedule and stick to it.

10. Perseverance

Football is an intensely emotional game full of extreme highs and low. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Same thing goes with content marketing. You must continue to push forward even when things aren’t going your way. You can’t give up at the first sign of difficulty or failure. Perseverance is rewarded with success.

11. Tools

Each of the skill positions in football is a different tool in in the offensive coordinator’s arsenal: quarterbacks are blog posts, running backs are social media marketing, wide receivers are press releases, and tight ends are email marketing. Each one of these tools must be utilized in a coordinated effort to be successful.

12. Statistics

Football is definitely a statistician’s dream. It’s a numbers game made up of all sorts of averages and metrics. Coaches are constantly reviewing player and teams stats and making roster changes based on production.

Content marketing is no different. You need to track, measure, and report key metrics every week. Doing this will help you determine what is effective and what isn’t. Without tweaking your strategy, it’s next to impossible to improve it.

13. Conversions

An offense must convert third and fourth downs to keep possession and move the ball. They must also convert yards into touchdowns and points, and convert extra points and sometimes two-point attempts.

The goal of your content marketing offensive is to convert visitors into customers.

14. Injuries and Setbacks

They’re part of the game, just like some blog posts and marketing campaigns are flops.

Everyone loves a comeback story like those of Adrian Peterson and Thomas Davis. You can lead your own comeback success story with with some stellar content marketing.

15. Entertainment

The game is a spectacle of herculean men with all sorts of flamboyant personalities making amazing plays that defy the laws of physics.

The content marketing world can be just as exciting and enthralling…just hear me out.

We have our fair share of lively personalities like Derek Halpern, Joe Puluzzi, Jay Baer, Seth Godin, and Ann Handley. All these folks are professionals in their own right so be sure to check out their respective blogs as they have some useful, valuable information you can learn a lot from.

What other parallels can you draw between football and content marketing? Can you relate content marketing to any other sports? Let’s hear your thoughts below!

This article was originally published by BoostSuite

Published: October 8, 2014

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Ryan Kettler

Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite. Ryan is a sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, Internet marketing zealot and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack. BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small business owners. Unlike current products that bewilder and discourage small business owners, BoostSuite allows novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. BoostSuite is free and takes only one minute to set up, is easy to learn, and can be used by anyone.

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