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4 Marketing Lessons From #WorldCup2014

WRITTEN by: Katy Reeve |
categories: Content Marketing

Jun 2014


Soccer in America has seen consistent and optimistic growth over the past decade. True, many Americans still have never heard of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore or know the drama about Landon Donovan not being on Team USA’s World Cup roster, but that doesn’t mean the decades of hard work by the soccer-faithful isn’t producing results. As any marketing, public relations or branding professional can attest, changing brand perceptions, creating loyal fans and facing off with competitors for your customers that have a much larger marketing budget and established fan base can be daunting. With Team USA in the midst of an epic battle in the first round of the World Cup, I have paid close attention to the games, as well as to the world-class marketing happening all around. Here are my top four marketing takeaways from the first round:

4. Create interest well before the launch

The international community has been talking a lot about Brazil as the World Cup host well before teams arrived in the country. Whether it was protests or public transportation strikes, the international news (not just sports) was talking about Brazil as the host country to the world’s most intense competition. ESPN produced a special 30 for 30 about Team USA. And, let’s not forget about World Cup qualifying matches that started in 2011. If you can build interest before your product or service launches, go for it!

3. When the world is watching, always be ready for a close-up.

If you watched USA take on Portugal in the World Cup, then you saw the many close-up shots of Cristiano Ronaldo. He may actually be that perfect to look at all the time, but he is also aware the cameras are all around and his own personal brand matters. Showcase your brand as if millions of fans and potential fans are paying close attention. When you put yourself or your brand out there, make it count.

2. Don’t bite back

In a seriously disturbing turn of events in the Uruguay vs. Italy match, Luis Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini; seriously. Besides the fact that most of us learned by kindergarten not to bite others, this was public and will have serious ramifications for Suarez and his national team. This is a great reminder that when attacked by the competition, a disgruntled fan or someone else, do not bite back. What your brand integrity loses by biting back when provoked is hard to recover, and in our digital age coupled with social media, you can be sure one little bite on the shoulder will live on for years to come.

1. Make it easy to engage your fans

FIFA, the World Cup organizers, created a fan- and internationally-friendly site. Their website localization is engaging audiences around the globe. The use of social media is also helping fan engagement. The videos, photos and real time updates from teams, FIFA and 332 player Twitter accounts keep fans informed when and how they want to be informed. People are busy and the easier you make it for them to find what they want to know, when they want to know it about your product or service, the better.

We all want loyal fans who will stand by our side whether we win or lose. As marketers, we also know it takes more than winning to maintain a fan base. As for USA and the World Cup, if the first round of the tournament is any indication, win, lose or tie, it will be an exciting spectacle.

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