This past week I was lucky enough to stumble across two real tickets to game 4 of the Stanley Cup between the Boston Ruins and the unstoppable Chicago Blackhawks. (Side note, this article might be slightly biased). Two hours and $400 later, I was sitting in the balcony watching the puck drop. While I expected the Hawks to win, I unexpectedly picked up on some parallels between the NHL’s sporting strategies and some always-important inbound marketing tactics.
Create a community.
That’s what the Garden was – a community. As a Hawks fan, it pained me to grumpily sit in my chair while everyone else celebrated a Bruin’s goal/lucky slip past Crawford. However, they didn’t just high-five the person they came with; they celebrated with each other, from the stranger next to them to the one three rows down. Your social media presence and strategy should aim to do just this. Share engaging and funny anecdotes, deals, links or photos to your followers, and make sure you are not just showing this content to them but instead asking them about it. This creates a dialogue so that you are continuously increasing the conversation and generating traffic to your brand.
A community is also loyal and passionate. No matter how many times your team loses, you stick by them (and trust me on this, I’m a Cubs fan too). Make your blogs and interactions sincere and motivational because a customer is sure to pick up on your tone. And if you are effectively posting engaging and valuable content about your niche, people will view your company as a trustworthy source and continue to revisit your site for news and information.
Remember, there’s no “me” in “team” and one hockey player cannot carry the entire team’s success. Patrick Kane and Milan Lucic didn’t score every goal but had help from players, like Patrick Sharp, who rose to the challenge. Your business community is a base for sharing and expanding your network to create better marketing. It’s a team sport, and your online followers deserve just as much attention as anyone else in your company.
Keep your fans on their toes.
No one likes a boring game. This Stanley Cup Final was so intriguing and intense, I could barely breathe at times, especially during game 4 with 11 back-and-forth goals and game 6 with those incredible, mesmerizing and joyful 17 seconds. Every game has been different (except for those heartbreaking OTs) and that’s what your content should be like. We like to call this type of content the 3Es: evolving, engaging and exciting. Constantly posting the same type of information day after day, month after month might make your customers grow tired of your site. Imagine if your favorite sports team continuously ran the same offensive play over and over and over with little to no results. Extremely frustrating right? Inbound marketing is all about producing content that offers a fresh prospective on your industry. For example, generate new eBooks, videos and offers that will establish you and your company as an innovative leader.
HubSpot can help you monitor which strategies are working so it’s not all a guessing game. HubSpot enables you to A/B test your landing pages, calls-to-action and email campaigns. According to them, this testing can generate up to 30-40% more leads so that you can tailor your strategy, create more leads and give your customers what they want.
It’s a process.
Things don’t just happen overnight. Five players and a goalie aren’t just thrown together willy-nilly and go on to hoist the Stanley Cup that same season. It’s the same thing for your marketing growth. Simply setting up a Twitter, Facebook, company blog and landing pages won’t immediately attract thousands of page views and leads. Additionally, your social media strategy shouldn’t rest on one huge piece, similar to how one team shouldn’t rely on a single player. It’s the little moves, every tweet and every post, that are made everyday and will eventually build up to a major shift. As an inbound marketer, you know that your goal is to create connections between people and your brand and then engage customers so that relationship is maintained. Winning over fans slowly and steadily is the ultimate way to go. It’s what separates the Hall of Famers from the one time MVPs.
Create a persona.
I’m not sure how obvious this is to those in Connecticut and the rest of New England, but it’s common knowledge in Chicago that Jonathan Toews and Kane, AKA Tazer and Kaner, are quite the duo. The two of them banter back and forth so much that it’s never quite clear as to how their relationship actually works. But, what they’re doing is creating a persona not only for themselves, but for the Blackhawk brand.
Inbound marketers can follow their lead by giving their followers an inside and friendly look into a company. In between tweets about products or relevant news stories, provide videos, blog posts or pictures that capture your company culture. Rich platforms like Instagram, YouTube and now Vine or Instagram video allow you to personify your company and show your customers who you are.
For instance, Mashable posted a link to TaskRabbit’s blog posting entitled “The Power of Having an Open Bar in the Office.” This article explains and justifies their company culture and since its posting has driven more than 75,000 views to the company page.
In game 6, everyone saw Andrew Shaw take a puck to the face late in the first period, everyone saw him return to the ice in the second period, and then everyone saw him skate around the rink holding the Cup above his head with a swollen cheek and ripped stitches. Moral of the story, he kept playing and didn't give up.
Once you start engaging followers on social media, you can't stop. Reverting back to old ways is like voluntarily dropping a customer. Rather than just up-and-leave, experiment with different platforms and see which sites are benefitting you the most. Again, Hubspot can help you track the progress of your campaigns across social media, as well as other outlets like email marketing.
ImageWorks can help you become a champion of your own social media efforts and strategies. Download our FREE Internet Marketing EBook by clicking below.
ImageWorks Intern: Lindsey Havansek