Poor Branding Strategy Mirrors On Field Ineptitude: San Francisco 49ers Misfire

Reuters.com published this deansguide and innerarchitect.com article October 6, 2008

Branding and marketing your brand’s message is all about perception, believability, and credibility. It is also something that requires a hard look at what will resonate with a particular targeted population of customers you want to accept and embrace your brand. If there was ever a case study on how not to brand a product, it is the recent season ticket sales radio advertising campaign by the San Francisco 49ers.

Qualifications: I am a native San Franciscan, a 38 year fan of the Niners, and a former season ticket holder from 1996 to 2006. I am a fan of this team but not a blindly “Faithful” drone as they seem to want to create. My assertions about fan demographics, fan behavior, and message viability is based on my experience with the sport. Since 1972 I have attended over 200 NFL games, 5 NFL playoff games, and one Super Bowl. In addition I have attended another 100+ college football games-I have experienced many crowds in my long journey as a sports fan.

The Radio Branding Message

Setting: A father gives his preteen son and daughter a lesson on being a 49er fan aka one of the “faithful.”

Message: the father is training his children to be 49er fans, faithful 49er fans, and nothing else.

Branding Message: Being a 49er fan is about blindly following, supporting, and being proud of your team.

The Reality: A Branding Message Gone Bad

1. Being a 49er “Faithful”: is a very old marketing message that was established in the 1970’s. It has very little impact upon the buying public as it does not address image, invoke faithful behavior, or inspire people to buy season tickets.

Case Study of Excellence: The Oakland Raiders, although enduring hard times for many years without excellence on the field, continue to invoke and inspire fan participation. Why? Being a Raider fan holds the connotation that you are a tough guy, hard scrabble, pure violence loving fan of a very violent game–the Raiders tell it like it is and embrace the brand they have created for themselves

2. Association with Baseball’s Message: The 49er’s attempt to utilize the message major league baseball has been extremely successful using does not work. Baseball is associated with family, apple pie, and America. It is a tradition of heritage passed down from generation to generation; something a father can share with a son or daughter. And baseball is an affordable family outing for everyone to enjoy.

3. The 49er’s Branding Strategy: to sell season tickets, is to create a following of blindly faithful fans. By describing a pep talk between a father and his children, you are left with the perception that the ticket buying fan base that attends games is a demographic closely inline with baseball’s fan demographic-that is ridiculous!

Football is a very violent sport. The fans at games are often unruly, drunk, and misbehave. The atmosphere at a professional football game has nothing in common with the gentile atmosphere at most major league baseball games. The age of the NFL fan base is older. The number of preteen and teenage fans at professional football games is far fewer than what you would see at a Major League baseball affair.

Results: A Complete Misfire

What the radio listening public is left with is a NFL team that is attempting to sell season tickets by invoking faith in the team. Their method of invoking faith is to “start em young” and bring up little 49er fans that will grow into season ticket buying 49er fans. Their brand is be faithful-be a 49er fan. This is very ineffective and completely ignorant of the brilliant marketing and branding message the team could create from their storied heritage. Why is a franchise with 5 Super Bowl wins, voted the team of the decade in the 1980’s, completely ignoring their brand strength?

9 Tips That May Change The Way You Do Marketing: Asking For “Permission” Never Has Been So Important

Valeria Maltoni, the marketing expert and subject of my last post, has a fascinating list of tips that may very well change the way you do marketing. Her tips are based on permission marketing a strategy where you ask permission before sending advertisements to prospective customers.

Permission marketing is used by some Internet marketers, email marketers, and telephone marketers. It requires that people first “opt-in”, rather than allowing people to “opt-out” only after the advertisements have been sent.

9 Tips To Consider

1. Newsletter Subscriptions: ask for permission to add people to your newsletter list. You may see a dip in the growth rate of your newsletter list but your new subscribers will be of higher quality to your business

2. Subscribe to email: Give people the chance to subscribe to your email whenever possible

3. What others purchased: Let your readers see what other people have bought, testimonials of your service, and even a poor review. By including a poor review you are demonstrating you are transparent

4. Comments: make commenting available as much as possible as often as possible on your site. If you have forum capabilities that is even better as it allows commenters to communicate directly

5. Give First: Make sure the first time a potential client hears something from you it is not a sales pitch of any kind. Add value and give something first before asking for something in return

6. Ranking Content: Create a method of allowing your readers to rank your content and vote for their favorite or most “useful” articles

7. Encourage Critiquing: encourage and foster an atmosphere where readers, peers, and clients can critique your work or present alternative ideas

8. Follow a Plan: Take everything in steps, follow a plan, and take your time building trust through permission in your marketing mission

9. Ask,Ask,Ask: One answer does not satisfy all inquiring minds. Continually ask questions so as to understand your clients. Show that you value their concerns by illustrating how your services or products can help them in their lives

“Word-Of-Mouth” Expert Valeria Maltoni: Power Of Viral Marketing

Reuters.com news agency published this deansguide article July 14, 2008

Valeria Maltoni a University of Bologna (Italy) and Villanova University graduate, is one of the most influential marketing experts in the country. Her bio reads like a who’s who of Web 2.0 and marketing.

Her blog ConversationAgent.com is recognized among the world’s top online marketing blogs. Valeria is a FastCompany.com Expert blogger and a contributor to The Blog Herald, Marketing Profs Daily Fix, and Marketing 2.0.

She is an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA), and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

In her article “Permission Marketing Revisited” Valeria points out 3 interesting studies, dating back to 1955, about the power and validity of “word of mouth” aka viral marketing.

Realtor’s Gold

1. Real estate is a transaction business and a Realtor’s opportunity to shine, like gold, is a direct cause of word of mouth aka viral marketing. If you do a great job your clients will tell 5 or more friends–nothing new here.

2. But if you do less than advertised in your transaction, your less than enthused customer (according to studies performed by Nordstrom Dept store while I was an employee) will tell 10 friends not to use your services

Thought Provoking Studies: Valeria’s Research

1. “Columbia sociologists Lazarsfeld and Katz estimated that word of mouth was seven times more powerful that newspaper or magazine ads in motivating brand-switching as early as 1955.

2. “In 1975, the Roper Organization showed that word of mouth was mentioned as the best source of information about new products and services 67% better than advertising at 53% or editorial content at 47%.

Note: That flys in the face of conventional wisdom for people who believe that “media relations” should be the more powerful “component” in an integrated marketing plan

3. A 2003 Cap Gemini study into the influences on car purchases showed that 71% of the 700 respondents pointed to word of mouth compared to only 15% for television ads.

4. Renouned consulting firm McKinsey estimated that word of mouth drives two thirds of the US economy.

Final Analysis

Viral Marketing aka word of mouth marketing is much more powerful than most people expect. It is under estimated and often overlooked as a major component in a marketing plan–more so now in the globally communicating Web 2.0 World

NIN’s Trent Reznor’s Direct Marketing Approach: How Realtor’s Can Understand The Power Of Value

Trent Reznor is a hard core rock n roll singer who looks the part and acts the part. He is the centerpiece of a very successful band: Nine Inch Nails. What can Realtors learn from a screaming rock God?

Marketing direct to the consumer is all about giving away what your target audience values, continuously giving value to your audience, and giving away value without asking or demanding anything in return.

Reznor’s Plan A Purple Cow?

Seth Godin author of “The Purple Cow” and marketing guru for the ages suggests many of the concepts Reznor has adopted in his approach to marketing his music.

Value Prop #1: Giving Away “The Slip” As An Introduction

In a great article by Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired.com NIN’s latest album “The Slip” is being offered online for free to any fans who wish to download the music to MP3, lossless (FLAC or Apple) or 24-bit, 96-kHz WAV files. The album-CD goes on sale in July so this is a free introduction to fans

Realtors: What can you provide your audience for free that is of value and makes you a valued expert in the eyes of your audience? Blogs written with expert advice, sources, tools, and tips would fill this order

Value Prop #2: Selling Tickets Direct To Fans

In an effort to remove the inflated ticket prices that come with widespread “scalping”, Reznor now sells concert tickets directly, through their website, to fans. Each ticket is printed with the fan’s name on it; the supply is controlled giving the perception of exclusivity while keeping the average fan coming out due to ticket affordability

Realtors: How can you help a consumer save money, avoid dishonest deals, or help them understand the changing real estate landscape? Educate your audience on deceptive lending practices, on proper home inspection, or provide them information on avoiding PMI

Value Prop #3: Staying In Direct Contact With Your Audience

nin.com provides their audience with Official NIN news, discography, tour dates, video clips, and answers to submitted questions. Fans can subscribe to the site feed and everything is free. In addition Reznor and the band communicates directly with their audience by posting articles and answering fan questions

Realtors: If you believe that staying in touch with today’s buyer or seller entails placing a listing print ad in a local rag, commenting to a real estate columnist in a local rag, sending out email announcements aka Spam, or writing a 1x per month newsletters you are mired in Web Zero and in need of a Web 2.0 makeover.