Published on: May 2, 2017by Michael Sansolo
In case you didn’t know, I am a sports fan. I’m content to flip on the TV and follow a game involving teams and even sports that I don’t particularly care about.
And even with that background I cannot understand the spectacle of the National Football League (NFL) draft of college players that took place in the past week. But it is clear that this is a marketing marvel, simply because the NFL essentially turned nothing into something.
That marketing lesson shouldn’t be lost on anyone, especially given what was done this year.
First, let’s dispense with the sports part of this: the draft allows each of the league’s 32 teams to select eligible collegiate players in a series of rounds. The teams choose players in reverse order of their success the previous year, so the worst teams go first and so on, round after round.
Through the years, the spectacle grew thanks to the advent of non-stop television coverage. What once took a day and drew the interest of only the most die-hard fans, now takes three days and is all done in prime time. The weeks leading up to the draft are dotted with “experts” analyzing and predicting the outcomes.
The event itself has gone dramatic, with clocks counting down the time until the next selection and likely draftees waiting anxiously for their names to be chosen. Heck, they even made a Kevin Costner movie (Draft Day) about the process.
Even the final player chosen gets special recognition as Mr. Irrelevant. (A dubious honor, but one that at least comes with the potential of a career in professional sports.)
Lastly, after 50 years of taking place in theaters and hotels in New York, the draft went on the road and into new territory. This year the NFL placed it outside, on the Ben Franklin Parkway, Eakins Oval and the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The crowd size mushroomed to 250,000. Already I’ve read sports articles questioning how the NFL will possibly top this next year.
That's great marketing and that’s something business should be examining. How do we take the ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary or, a minimum, exciting? Remember, this doesn’t mean celebrating holidays or obvious events, but rather creating events and excitement.
For instance, where are the events celebrating the arrival of summer produce, something I look forward to far more than the NFL draft? Or how about the start of barbecue season; the end of the school year; or any of the countless created little holidays we seem to have almost weekly. It’s about building displays, pushing sampling and doing it all with energy and style.
It doesn’t have to matter if peanut butter and jelly sandwich day is real; it only matters that we find a way to make it exciting and special in the same way that the NFL made player selections must-see television for even casual fans. Making something out of nothing is the key to great marketing, merchandising and excitement, especially at a time when shoppers are gaining more ways to avoid coming to your store.
More than ever we need make the ordinary extraordinary.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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