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How the NBA builds a winning marketing strategy

Steve Shoup

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a reputation for being the most innovative of the major professional sports leagues, scoring and profiting from a combination of channels including merchandising, ticket sales, sportswear etc. The love for this sport is global, but the ability that the NBA has shown in growing into such a global phenomenon cannot be attributed only to the fact that people love this sport. NBA has a lot more to do with brilliant marketing strategies.

This league has stayed on the top for a very long time because of the global engagement and public sensation it has caused. This reputation lasts and successfully grows for more than 60 years, and many brands learned and adopted their market strategies. Here are some takeaways that will come in handy if you’re marketing enthusiast.

Extend your brand ID

The NBA in the past few years created league extensions that made the league even more appealing and relatable. Here we’ll mention the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) that came at a time when women’s interest in the sport was merely there. Since then, the NBA created the NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association and NBA China that generates almost $500 million in revenue per season.

Your business or idea may not be able to adopt this concept, but a simple creation of profiles on different marketing platforms and creating a niche within your brand is a step in the right direction. Digital Marketing offers the opportunity to set up stores/accounts in different countries. For example, you can create specific offers for European countries, or open stores only for teenagers within your brand.

Create unique and engaging content

If you think that the NBA takes the content for granted, visit their official website or any of the NBA teams’ websites. The influx of latest videos, articles, analysis and interviews has proven to be their primary channel in attracting visitors, creating engagement and getting subscriptions to their email lists.

From healthcare to gaming and legal matters-content has always been the most relevant tool for engaging new and retaining an existing audience. Take, for example, the online gaming industry and the tight competition between providers. They continually strive to stay ahead of their competitor and improve their offerings. This can be noticed among new bingo sites and online casino game providers that recorded significant growth in the last few years.

One trait that defines the NBA content is “personality”. Content that lacks the engaging note will be difficult to digest in the online market. Infusing fun and playfulness into the game has made watching the game itself more enticing to fans. Content like NBA players showing their dance moves or favourite meals has helped the league to shine with personality.

The takeaway is to take the content seriously and maintain audience engagement. Whether it is a commitment to one blog post/video per day or week, you need to be consistent, innovative and let your brand personality shine

Relevant in the pop-culture  

Over the last two decades, the NBA performed a marketing blast by increasing their domination and influence in the industry. Being part of the pop culture phenomena, stars like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman and Shaquille O Neal have become movie stars and showbiz influencers other than being just NBA players. The idea is to associate your brand with any popular topic or subject, so you always remain relevant. If you’re not involved with brand endorsements, start mentioning them and talk about their success and quality. The combination of entertainment, fashion etc. in your on-site and off-site content is an excellent strategy to get your name in the frequent conversations.  The association of your brand with subjects that already have a buzz should significantly grow your brand awareness.

The Future

Nowadays, the NBA league is innovating with new offerings in Augmented and Virtual Reality viewings of games and content. The NBA AR app plans to bring fans around the world up close and behind the scenes. The plan for the NBA is to continue investing in the future of technology. Perhaps more importantly, they focus on maintaining the brand they’ve built over the decades. They will continue to generate original and shareable content, use social media platforms as a tool to leverage brand partnerships and run campaigns with a note of relevance and empathy.



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