By Neil Walton, Deep South Media
The 2016 NFL season kicks off early on Friday morning and there is a great buzz around American Football not just in the USA but across the pond too.
UK interest in the sport has never been higher, with three games set to take place in London as part of the NFL’s international series and rumours of a London-based franchise in the pipeline.
Reigning Superbowl champions Denver Broncos will host Carolina Panthers, beaten finalists in the NFL’s showpiece event in February, in the now traditional Thursday night season-opener.
All 32 teams will contest the regular season, split into two conferences of 16 teams – the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).
The best four teams and two wildcards from each conference enter into the knockout play-offs after 16 games with the AFC and NFC champions reaching Superbowl LI in Houston, Texas.
Success off the field is largely down to the NFL franchises’ extraordinary marketing activities.
Huge corporations pay massive sums to have their logos splashed across NFL franchises, whether it be stadium names, stand names, gate names or simply TV advertising.
For instance, TV advertising during the Superbowl costs a staggering $5m for a 30-second slot.
So, how can small businesses learn from the NFL’s best practices?
Look no further than the Dallas Cowboys – top of Forbes’ list of the richest sports teams in the world, whose fortune is built largely off the back of their brand.
Their last Superbowl appearance was 21 years ago but three wins in 1992, 1993 and 1995 propelled them to the top of the popularity stakes – and they have capitalised financially ever since.
Today that admiration is reflected on social media with 10.2m fans on Facebook and Twitter combined and an average 2015 home game attendance of 91,459.
Factor in stadium naming rights, shirt sales, ticket revenue, sponsorship and advertising and it’s easy to see why Forbes values them at $4bn ahead of Real Madrid ($3.65bn) and FC Barcelona ($3.55bn).
The NFL franchises have nailed social media with visual-rich content, exclusive news, player updates, excellent PR activity and more.
So, while small businesses won’t have the massive budget of NFL franchises, strategically focusing on social media, PR and marketing will count towards building brands – try it out and maybe you’ll find your Most Valuable Practice.