March 26, 2019
In an exciting spin-off to our Marketing Mix Podcast, we’re bringing together industry experts for an on-camera discussion over drinks. Luke Droulez, CMO, Parachute and George Scott, VP, General Manager, Club Media Group, NFL share their views on leveraging a multi-channel demand strategy, the pros and cons of working with influencers and the future of marketing.
Jeff Ragovin: What’s your main focus regarding multi-channel marketing strategy?
Luke Droulez: We want to work on reducing the frictions that somebody may encounter as they purchase home linens, or home furnishings in general. On the retail side it's being in the right neighborhoods and being close to where our tribe is, whereas online it's being available for everyone. These days I think there's is a sense of legitimacy if you see a brand on a billboard or on a subway or if you see an ad on TV. The way that you interpret it and perceive that brand is different than if you see it simply in your Instagram feed. I think it's important for us to interact with people across a variety of touch points in order to drive them to their place of purchase. At the end of the day, I'm sales channel agnostic, I’m product agnostic and marketing channel agnostic- it comes down to whatever creates the best customer experience.
George Scott: I think there are a lot of different ways to look at it. The ultimate end of the funnel is the season ticket holder. But in between you have people that will watch the game live on TV or their phones, people that will go to the games, people that will buy merchandise. While we have a great product and a great platform, there’s a lot of different touch points depending on where the fan is in their own journey. We have to approach each channel and each demographic as separate entities.
Jeff Ragovin: Luke, how are you managing the marketing transition from being a direct to consumer brand to opening up more brick and mortar stores?
Luke Droulez: Messaging for a store only exists within a certain radius. If I put up a billboard in Palm Springs, I don’t think someone is going to drive to LA to come and shop with us. On the flip side, we try to passively market the stores online. Ultimately, consumers tend to see and do, in that they see an ad and then they look it up. We tend to geo-locate our products, but our marketing is more implicit. If this is something of interest to our consumers, we make sure it shows up. But unless you’re close enough to the store that it makes sense to advertise, we don’t talk about it.
Jeff Ragovin: What do you guys think is the most impactful channel to date?
George Scott: When it comes to selling tickets, it’s Facebook. The audience is just much larger there. The demo is the right demo versus something like Snapchat. For our really avid fans, it's our owned and operated apps. The behavior of someone on the app is very different than the behavior of someone on social or on the mobile web platform.
Luke Droulez: For us, I think it is podcasts. We started working with Pod Save America really early on and our relationship with them was able to grow along with their popularity. This includes being integrated into their live events, newsletter or daily conversation. They have almost have become influencers in their own right. Regardless of the podcast storytelling angle, culturally speaking, everything kind of came to a head at the right time.
Jeff Ragovin: What are your thoughts on influencer marketing, given its varying scales?
Luke Droulez: Social proof is such an important part of the purchase experience and we look for influencers in the same way. When you learn about a brand, you ask who is going to be the person who acts as the authenticator? In the case that it isn’t a friend or family member, it’s someone that you admire or aspire to be. As a result, influencers are definitely an important part of our marketing strategy.
I would say the role of the influencer has changed, where initially it was somebody saying “I like these things” to now becoming more legitimate publishers with teams and agents. A good example of this is Goop. What started as a newsletter is now a publisher, a marketplace and its own direct to consumer brand. As influencers have evolved, we try to evolve as well in terms of how we work with them. You have to be more careful about contracts, SOWs and deliverables. In a lot of ways, some of the dollars that used to go directly to publishers are now going to influencers.
George Scott: When you think of a spectrum of influencers, there’s always a desire to keep the brand message consistent. For example, consider the Vikings. There's a lot of different media outlets that cover the Vikings, but their resources to cover access to their players is really what drives engagement and fandom. They've really expanded the amount of content that they're doing around their players- this is a concept that we what we call “off the helmet”. Fans are getting closer to a one-to-one relationship with the team and that's really some of our best influencers at work. Younger players who are very active on social could even be considered a version of celebrity influence.
Jeff Ragovin: What about authenticity?
Luke Droulez: We approach the relationship in acknowledging their legitimacy. At the end of the day, we have come to think about building longer term relationships and partnerships. At the large scale, we’re looking for the best partners. But at a smaller scale, we look for people who we’re okay with representing the brand. If it's just for imagery and collateral, these people need to have the creativity to produce original content. As long as they're producing content that we're comfortable with, we're happy to even work out smaller scale deals.
George Scott: What’s been an interesting challenge for us is the line between authenticity and the brand not saying anything negative about itself. When a team loses in the playoffs, there’s a tendency to run and hide. But fans want to commiserate, and you still need to produce the same amount of content even when you’re having a bad season. The more content you produce, the higher your consumption.
Jeff Ragovin: As we move into 2019, there are a couple of emerging platforms that are starting to take shape, such as TikTok. With the two of you being on very different ends of the spectrum, what do you think about the future of marketing, and any potential threats?
Luke Droulez: For us it's more about refining our strategy than completely changing it. I think we are fortunate in the timeframe in which we grew up since this means we had a lot of flexibility within our budget. The last two years have been about defining what our marketing mix is. For us it's more making sure that we don't have any channel reliance. Everybody is carving out the channels that work for them.
George Scott: For us, it’s important to be present everywhere. Not necessarily TikTok yet, but when I think about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat, we have to be on all those platforms. What I would say is there's 32 clubs that all have very unique business goals and it's important for them to prioritize how they leverage those platforms as marketing channels.
Jeff Ragovin: What are your opinions on podcasting?
Luke Droulez: From the advertiser’s perspective, the hard thing with podcasts is that the growth rate in content is outpacing the growth rate in consumption. If you think about it in terms of mindshare, how many podcasts do people have on rotation? For instance, if I'm on Pod Save America, what other podcasts do I need to be on in order to have the appropriate share of voice?
George Scott: Of course, podcasting is important. I tend to think more about audio because we've seen a real resurgence in live game audio and the desire to listen to live game audio. With voice activated devices, clubs and sports entities are starting to build out on Alexa. This poses another question: how do you think about advertising on an Alexa device or a Google device? That’s an entirely new platform to think about.
Jeff Ragovin: Thank you for joining us on Marketing Mixology.
Please note, the above has been paraphrased for editorial purposes