Tradition v. Content

A great and current example of an organization relying more on content than traditional brand advertising is ESPN’s Sports Center.  In the beginning of show, the novelty of having a full 30 to 60 minutes of news devoted to sports coverage was definitely a novelty.  As the novelty of Sports Center wore off and the idea of permanence became more established, Sports Center was very much driven by key personalities such as Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick and Stewart Scott.  Additionally, game highlights, and statistics could definitely be seen as SC’s bread and butter.

Fast forward to the future, ESPN subscribership is noticeably down and revamping of Sports Center is occurring.  One striking addition is the increase in storytelling, from special features produced by Tom Rinaldi to non-athletes guests interviewed on set about their favorite sports moment or analyzing film, ESPN saw the need to change its content from the traditional, sports information to in demand special features.

Social media has made athletes much more accessible now than they have been in the past.  Additionally, stats are provided by ESPN and other outlets, almost instantaneously through app alerts, social media and websites.  No longer are people tuning into Sports Center to get an update on what happened in sports that day, which can be easily summoned on a smart phone via twitter.  ESPN had to figure out how to satisfy a new fan who wants to know something about an athlete that 140 characters can’t capture and the fan who appreciate the stats but wants help with analyzing their usefulness.

Sports Center can transition from segment to segment intertwining game highlights, special interest stories and fantasy stats breakdown and trade suggestions to satisfy the appetite of a variety of sports fans.  Although having content can be vital to an organizations survival, only the right type of content used in an effective way is going to achieve goals and move a company forward.


Your Company + Google = Results

Content is a very effective way to attract consumer attention because it allows for an organization to differentiate itself from competitors, directly address consumer concerns or issues an discuss products or services in a way that is unique to the organization.  In a consumer driven branding and marketing world, products are interested in not only reaching a buyer but demonstrating to that individual how the product or service provided by that company to easily integrate into the life a consumer.

Content, can attract attention in an assortment of ways.  A company can generate its own content and/or rely on other entities such as bloggers, reporters, reviewers to create their own content in support of their product or service.  Additionally, an organization can utilize multiple communication platforms in order to spread the content, through social media, websites and blog sites to name a few.

Once the content has been created, organizations need to work hard in order to ensure the Google organic search rankings are present and increasing.  An effective strategy for increasing search rankings in Google is properly wording content.  If the content is regarding a specific item or service such as private basketball lessons, the author of the content should ensure that the associated key words are very distinctive and numerous.  When people looking for sport lessons or training initiate a Google search, the likelihood of them choosing the aforementioned company will increase with the number of terms or keywords that match various searches.

Additional methods for optimizing Google organic search rankings is geo-targeting or fencing and a little espionage.  Relating geotargeting, when a product or service is regional in scope, SEO can be utilized to specifically target individuals searching for a product or service in a specified area.  This ability allows efforts to attract attention more concentrated in an serviceable area, which can prove to be very effective.  In reference to espionage, companies should be aware of their competitors digital marketing strategies especially their SEO methods.  A wealth of information regarding the efficacy of a company’s marketing and branding skills can be determined through viewing the efficacy of its competitors.  If there are procedures that a competitor is performing better than you, specifically by analyzing their Google SEO, that information can be used to make better your company.  Information that is available to organizations about their competitors should be utilized in a way that will work towards gaining more attention for an organization.

In with the New, Out with the Old

The Mad-men era of advertising is based on brand promises utilizing imagery, communications and relying on the consumer’s perception of the product or service being provided.  The Mad-Men era focuses more on the consumer experience and how the service or product is utilized by the consumer.  In comparing the Mad-Men approach and more modern campaigns, the difference is in how the consumer is encouraged to interact with the brand or in other terms, how the consumer is engaged.

No longer are consumers being asked to use a product.  Consumers are encouraged to incorporate a brand into their lifestyle.  New brands don’t entice their consumers by showing them how shiny and new their product is, or who is using their product or how much their product costs.  New brands are enticing consumers by showing them how to enhance their lives with the use of their product, how to monitor progress, how to improve productivity and even how they as a consumer compare with family and friends who are also engaged.  Imagery and communication aren’t the main tools for selling the brand as they were in the Mad-Men era, interaction and sharing are the new main tools.

Reebok would be a brand of the Mad-Men era.  With millions spent on endorsements and imagery, Reebok relied on telling the consumer why to purchase their product as a way to sell their goods.  Reebok doesn’t differentiate itself as an athletic apparel company from the others.  Nike has the name recognition and the integration in consumer lifestyles.  Unless Reebok determines a better strategy, their attempts to resurrect their brand will fall on the deaf, uninspired ears of their consumer.

Although not a sports brand, the Apple Watch has made a name for itself in fitness tracking technology.  The television commercials speak to individuals who engage in active lifestyles both traditional and non-traditional.  An exploration of how “active people” seamlessly incorporate the watch into their daily lives with communication of encouragement, competition and tracking.  Although the watch doesn’t do fantastically more than other fitness trackers, with the Apple brand solidly backing the watch’s functionality, the consumer is drawn into choosing a device which they can incorporate into their everyday lives improvement or purchase a device that will jump start the lifestyle they want to establish.

The key to continuing in the vein of new era branding is ensuring those who have purchased the product share their experiences and satisfaction with the product to others.  Word of mouth advertising has never been more powerful with the ability of things to go viral and one person having the ability to connect to millions in seconds with 140 characters.  By following the modern rules of branding the iWatch will continue to be an industry leader in fitness tracking.

UFC the Ultimate Brand Championship

The Ultimate Fighting Championship – UFC© – is a sports property which governs the sport of professional mixed martial arts.  MMA is a combination of various forms of martial arts including sumo wrestling, jiu-jitsu, karate and other combat forms (boxing, kickboxing, grappling and wrestling).  Established in 1993, UFC has rapidly grown MMA fighting, becoming a household name.  As a brand, UFC’s coveted audience demographic is said to consist of approximately 4.5 million 18-49 year-olds.  In 2001, the UFC was sold to its current owners, a casino duo from Las Vegas, for $2 million.  President Dana White is a highly attuned and accessible executive with a twitter following of over 2 million people.  Although not directly competing with the four major US sports properties – MLB, NBA, NFL & NHL – the UFC is definitely making a place for its self in the sports market.

As Christopher Erb explained in his video, the three traits of a successful brand include collaboration, lifestyle and engagement.  Under the leadership of Dana White, the UFC is excelling in all three categories.  In 2011, the UFC and FOX Sports inked a seven-year television deal for rights to four annually televised fights and the creation of the “television’s longest running sports reality show”, The Ultimate Champion.  The collaboration with a large cable network, gives the UFC a $100 million home where sports fans can learn more about the sports property, giving the opportunity to increase the fan base.  Also the Ultimate Champion, provides a humanistic look into a sport that can be described as brutal.  UFC, through its collaborate with FOX Sports is in approximately 90 million households.  The mutually beneficial collaboration gives UFC the exposure necessary for continued growth and delivers FOX the oft elusive yet highly coveted 18-49 year-old demographic.

The lifestyle of UFC can be gleaned by simply visiting their website.  From news updates, fight and fighter coverage to a swath of ancillary products such as clothing lines, fitness series, publications, trading cards and a partnership with EA Sports.  The fans of UFC can immerse themselves in the world of ultimate fighting consuming UFC in some form 24 hours a day.

Finally, UFC fans are highly interactive with the president and league itself through social media.  With nearly 4.5 and 5.9 twitter and instagram followers respectively and digital subscription service – UFC Fight Pass – UFC fans are highly engaged and in the perfect demographic for low cost, high frequency interaction which often leads to the feeling of ownership.  As UFC continues to grow its brand, grabbing new demographic categories (females), it should continue to find new ways to successfully collaborate with established brands, create a desirable lifestyle accessories and innovatively engage its constituents.  These attributes will ensure is continues growth and increased brand value.