I recently saw an interview with Roger Goodell, the hated yet revered commissioner of the National Football League. Whether or not you agree with his handling of player fines or contract negotiations, you cannot deny his influential role with one of the biggest brands in the United States today.

The NFL is an economic machine like no other. It seamlessly incorporates multiple revenue streams. It dominates television, has a presence on radio and is well represented on the internet. And, perhaps most importantly, the NFL has a rabid fan following that any other business would envy.

Your business, whatever it is, can learn a lesson from the NFL. Should you expect hundreds of thousands of people to wear your logo on their shirts? No. Will millions of people pay to watch you work? Likely not. But can you duplicate some of the intrigue surrounding the Gridiron Greatness to benefit you? Yes, definitely.

First, let’s think about what the NFL delivers. The NFL delivers excitement. The NFL delivers inclusion. The NFL delivers a culture that sucks you in. At the beginning of every game, fans are not 100% sure what to expect. They know they’re going to get an exciting matchup, but who will win is anyone’s guess. There are relatively few barriers to entry; while tickets to watch live are expensive, anyone can be a fan. That excitement, and the idea that anyone can cheer—that’s what makes football a way of life, not just a brand or an event.

Next, let’s think about how the NFL delivers all of that. The NFL delivers its product predictably. The NFL delivers its product through multiple channels to reach multiple audiences, all with one single message. While you don’t know who’s going to win a game, that game comes in a comfortable “container”; you know the field, you know the rules, you more or less know the players; you even know what consistent times each week you’ll be watching your favorite teams. And, if you can’t afford a ticket to see the game live, that game will be brought to your living room; all you’ll owe is some of your time for watching commercials.

Last, let’s figure out how these ideas can help drive your business to a win:

  • Ask yourself, what is exciting about your business? If your work doesn’t excite you, it probably won’t excite anyone else. This doesn’t mean that you need to make plumbing or data security or waste disposal sound as fun as the circus, but it does mean you need to see the most exciting benefits of what you do, and play those up. (Do your plumbers take care of problems at 3am? That would excite a homeowner with an overflowing toilet. Does your security system allow small businesses to securely get files to clients? That would intrigue a business owner. Still don’t know how to find excitement in what you do? Maybe you need to ask me. Or maybe you’re doing it– whatever it is you do– wrong ☺ )
  • Determine if you’ve put up barriers to entry. While you’re likely not looking for 60,000 ticket buyers every weekend, you are looking to reach every potential client or customer you possibly can. If you aren’t offering multiple price points, or delivering your message across a number of channels, you might be putting up those barriers.
  • Make sure you’re offering the familiarity and predictability your customers need. You might think your creative web design idea is going to revolutionize the internet. It might, but it’s more likely the design will only confuse your clients. Figure out what predictability your clients need to do business with you (Consistent updates? Familiar structure?) and don’t sacrifice that in the name of excitement. Remember, each NFL game is exciting, even though the rules don’t change.
  • And, make sure you’re sticking to one single message, regardless of what channel you’re using. Your blog shouldn’t have a totally different voice than your Twitter feed, and your Facebook page needs to be consistent with your YouTube videos. You don’t have to say exactly the same thing, but you should make sure that regardless of how you’re reaching your audience—be it in their living room, or in the equivalent of your stadium—they’re getting the same message.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know! @ansleymeredith

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