3 word of mouth lessons from sports teams

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Like you, sports teams have to earn fans and try to beat the competition. Except their competitors aren’t just the teams in different colored jerseys. They’re also competing against every other channel on the TV, that concert that’s on the same night, and every other form of entertainment that stops people from tuning in or buying a ticket.

Here’s some clever marketing from sports to inspire your strategy:

1. Own your bad news
2. Reach out to your influencers
3. Give them easy tools to talk about you

1. Own your bad news

When both the goaltender and backup goaltender for Florida’s NHL team, the Panthers, became injured during a game, they found themselves scrambling to find an emergency backup. There was a lot of confusion, and even the goaltender coach started to suit up for the job. Luckily, the original goalie came back from the hospital to finish the game just in time, but the debacle still didn’t look great for the Panthers. So two days later, they created a promotion to turn their mishap into something fun: amateur tryouts for the Panthers’ practice backup goalie. And they ended up with around 1,500 applicants from all over the world — which is pretty good for a team that’s having a hard time getting fans in the seats.

2. Reach out to your influencers

Last football season, the Oregon Ducks sent customized jerseys to celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, and famous musicians from Oregon. The jerseys, sent to everyone from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden to KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer, had their personal Twitter handles printed on the back. So what did these famous people do? They tweeted about it to their millions of followers. It’s like a gift with a built-in call to action for word of mouth.

3. Give them easy tools to talk about you

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Opening Day fell on a Monday this year. But they turned that downside into an opportunity to spread word of mouth by giving their fans Opening Day excuse notes. Each note is handwritten by one of their star players to help fans get out of stuff like work, school, and obligations to your parents or significant other to watch the game. It's fun, it's easy to share, and it creates an great excuse to tell someone else about the Brewers’ Opening Day.

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