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July 12, 2010 / jasonpinto

LeBron James, the Miami Heat, and your Marketing Plan

Are you sick of hearing about LeBron James yet?

Well, there is one article that came out this past weekend that I consider a must-read. It’s on Cleveland.com, and it provides many of the background details on how LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all ended up signing with the Miami Heat. You can check it out here.

Without getting into many of the details, here is the gist of the article: The process of bringing those 3 players onto the same team did not simply come together over the past few weeks. Rather, the seeds have been slowly planted over a period of years. And while there is no guarantee that planting those seeds would produce the desired result, there was a plan in place to increase the chances that it would happen.

The plan was created, and the seeds were planted over time. This involved conversations… salary cap maneuvering…creating positive experiences and emotional bonding. Steps were taken to eliminate potential obstacles when it came to negotiations. Also, the Heat kept a close eye on what their competition was doing.

Well, how can this help you out when it comes to marketing your products or services?

Learning from Pat Riley and the Miami Heat

We all know the importance of developing a marketing strategy and plan.  However, in today’s world, we are all moving faster than ever before. We are looking to keep up with new communication channels and to be considered leaders. We are striving to reach our prospects and customers in more ways, and oftentimes, we are doing so without a lot of thought.

This type of fast pace can provide benefits. However, what if we don’t have success? If our first social media campaign seems to yield small-to-no results, do we completely give up on updating our Twitter or Facebook page? If nobody replies to the discussion that we initiated on LinkedIn, do we give up on logging into that site for months?  If we don’t have a plan, then it’s possible that we will give up too easily and too quickly.

Sure, we’d love to see our first direct mail piece bring in enough leads to keep the sales team busy for the next quarter. But that will most likely not happen. Rather, we need to keep our goal clearly in front of us, and be determined to take multiple steps and actions to achieve it.

Here are a few things that the Miami Heat did that we as marketers may be able to learn from:

  • What the Heat did: They maneuvered contracts and players months and years in advance to create Salary Cap space
  • What can we do: Plan and budget accordingly! Do we have a trade show coming up in 9 months? If so, start planning now so that we can ensure our investment brings results. This may include money for pre-show promotion, for sponsorships, for providing entertainment and dining at the event, as well as post-show follow-up activities.
  • What the Heat did: They capitalized on positive and emotional experiences. In this case, the success of these players at the Olympics
  • What can we do: Sure, it’s great to tell our prospect about all of the wonderful features our product or service may offer. But we need to find a way to reach their heart. This may be by introducing them to the wonderful people we have at our company. But primarily, this will involve demonstrating the benefits and success that a prospect will be able to achieve personally via what we offer.
  • What the Heat did: Build respect by demonstrating our credibility (referring to the meeting that took place with Michael Jordan)
  • What can we do: We need our prospects to see that our company is well-respected in the industry. If we appear in a magazine or some other publication, share it with them. If we have a customer that loves to share their positive experiences with our company, then connect them with the prospect.

Will the Heat have enough power to win a Championship next year? It will be fun to find out. But regardless, they have already pulled one of the biggest moves in the history of the NBA and free agency. Whether you love them or can’t wait to see them crash-and-burn, they certainly created a plan and executed it successfully.

Can your company also do the same?

Photo Credit: http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2010/07/10/alg_lebron_heat.jpg

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