According to Adweek.com in 2011, some “27 million Americans play fantasy football”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the number has grown since. For most guys it’s an addicting game that makes watch football on Sunday’s that much more fun, and for their girlfriends or wives it seems like a complete waste of time and in some cases money too. But would you believe it if I suggested that there are lessons that brands could learn from fantasy football? Here are some of those lessons:
1. Research is very important
As any fantasy football player will know, the draft can make or break your season. You have to do your research ahead of time so that you can identify which players you want to draft. The top tier players are no brainers, but towards the middle rounds of the draft you need to be informed about other players who aren’t the headline grabbers. These will be the players that will help you become the champion of your league. Looking at a player’s injury history, skill set, and the strengths and weaknesses of the team he’s on will determine whether or not you want that player on your roster. If you come to the draft unprepared, you will waste draft picks on players who won’t contribute anything and possibly miss out on that diamond in the rough.
Brands have to do their research too. They have to do their research on their customers and on the market situation. They have to listen to what their customers want and how much they’re willing to pay for what they want. If brands listen well enough, they’ll find out exactly what will make their customers happy. Social media gives brands the ability to do this. Instead of pumping out products and trying to dictate what the customer will buy, brands should listen first and then produce what the customers want to buy.
2. Loyalty is tied to proven performance
After I played in my first fantasy football season, I quickly realized that it didn’t matter what my favorite football team was in real life, I wanted the best players on my team regardless of what team they actually played for. I also prefer to draft a proven veteran over an unproven rookie player because I can have some confidence that the veteran is likely going to perform similar or close to the previous years.
Brands need to learn that customers are looking for the same thing, a quality product. It doesn’t matter if your brand is offering a physical product or a service, customers demand quality. Having a proven track record of delivering quality products helps, but the minute that starts to slip, customers will not hesitate to switch brands. Although it might be tough at the moment, brands need to do their best to deliver quality products and services and stop cutting corners. A customer’s loyalty is tied to the product or service you’re providing, not so much to the brand name.
3. You must have a Plan B
Football is a contact sport, and so all good fantasy football teams must have backup players in case of injury. If your fantasy football team makes it through a whole season without any injuries, consider yourself very fortunate. It’s rare for that to happen; it’s just the nature of the sport.
Brands also need a good backup plan, and that backup plan is good customer service. Products and services break down at times and a good customer service plan needs to be in place and ready when that happens. My favorite example of this is American Express. Each time I’ve had to dispute a call, American Express has taken care of it for me. One thing to note is that I’ve only had to do this twice in 10 years, but it is because of those experiences that I will always be an American Express Card user. If your customer only has one experience with your customer service department in their lifetime, it will be that one and only experience that will be remembered. And it is the memory of that experience that will be passed onto their friends and family. Enough cannot be said about brands with good customer service.
What do you think brands need to do to succeed in today’s world? Are you still loyal to brands just because of the name?