We are five weeks into the NFL season in 2017. And the Firestorm created by the actions of Collin Kaepernick in 2016 has boiled over into a political gas fire in 2017 as President Trump and the NFL Players have erupted into a consuming news frenzy that has divided a nation further and galvanized the hearts of fans bass across the world.
I read today that NFL ticket sales are down over 15% and that TV viewership of the NFL is also in decline after many who have witnessed the protests, actually canceled direct TV packages. The once invisible NFL media front is taking a beating right alongside the President.
As I am reading articles posted today that the NFL is now asking owners to move on from the Anthem Protests and that they are considering new rules that force players to stand for the anthem, it struck me from a business marketing standpoint that the players need to learn about target audience. Their right to protest for what they believe is an American right, their venue has incredible reach so it seems on the surface to be a legitimate, (although I don’t approve) way of expressing to a large crowd their displeasure and hope for change. However, the most basic mistake is the same that so many business people make when buying media ads or using Social channels. They forget to check who the audience is and what they are there at that time to receive.
If you got a young NFL talent alone and could talk marketing, you could take just a few minutes to explain that Audience size is only part of the equation. You could explain that the Audience Core Beliefs and Attitudes, as well as Audience intentions and Timing, play a key role in the success of a campaign. For example, if the Audience is all Women who have cat allergies, showing up with free kittens to give away would just be wrong! Or if the Audience you are entertaining is all Vegans then doing a BBQ Rib dinner is just plain disrespectful.
The NFL Audience is so big that there are segments of every cross culture, I get that. But at the core of this audience, there is the general rule of entertainment and release/belonging. At this core, the idea of political unrest, passionate display of disrespect, or asking the fan base to choose a side in a fight they just don’t understand, in the place they came to be entertained, is just confusing and disinteresting. But throw in the cultural aspects of the American Flag, and country symbolism with our military and the NFL players had themselves a no-win situation. Marketing managers all over the country should lose a month’s pay for allowing them to make a foolish display to the wrong audience.
When I speak to my audience in business it is always a topic of conversation. Should I sell on Facebook? I love this radio Station, I should buy an ad here, shouldn’t I? All the kids are on You-Tube maybe we should get a channel and post some funny videos? It is always a great conversation when we break down those questions an ask, ok so who is the target audience you are trying to reach? Why will that audience care about your message? What are they looking for in the purchase decision? Are they using that channel as an influence to lifestyle or purchasing behavior?
NFL players needed a marketing lesson before taking the bait from President Trump. Trump has mastered the Marketing profile of his audience. He knew exactly how NFL players would react and how his Audience, greatly NFL watches and fans, would turn on the players once they choose sides. We can Argue Trump ridiculous habits and decisions later, but just as he embarrassed the democratic party and Hillary in November of 16, he is making a mockery of groups all over the US who choose to react to his antics before considering the audience.
You want to beat Trump’s antics, you should have stood for the Anthem, then held an open house for emigrants and veterans after a game. Invited your audience to stay and raise money for awareness. Told their stories and made America turn on Trump. You should have been a little more like JJ Watt with Hurricane Harvey and used your influence to inspire people, to challenge us to care about their community and to give unselfishly. That was a brilliant use of your medium and audience power to do good and affect real change in America.
5 – Tips for checking your Audience vs Your Mission before hitting send on your message:
- Review the core Audience Demo – Who is the Audience of this Channel or Event?
- Seek to understand Audience Motivations – Why is the Audience here, What do they Care About? What Core Beliefs might they have?
- Decide if the Channel of Promotion is an area where audience prefers to receive your message – where does this audience most likely to receive my message the most positively?
- Check your message to see if it is good for the consumer or only good for you? Am I making a statement to make me feel better, or am I providing a solution that helps my consumer?
- Find a Filter – Someone you can trust to check your audience and your mission to see if they messages match.
I’m certain the NFL will recover over time. But like many small and local business learn the mistake of not targeting your audience correctly with proper well thought out messages can be costly.