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5 World Cup Strategies You Can Steal to Make Consumers Passionate Fans of Your Brand Watch the World Cup for clues as to how you can drive direct-to-consumer growth.

By Zubin Mowlavi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The best ideas are often inspired by applying winning strategies from one category to something completely different -- which is why it makes sense to put the World Cup and direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing strategy in the same sentence.

As a massive futbol/soccer fan and someone who runs a global ecommerce agency, I see how winning strategies used by World Cup teams can help your consumer brand create successful DTC initiatives.

Related: One Direct-to-Consumer Company's Secrets to Success

If you're in the commerce business, you want a DTC strategy. J.D. Power shows that two-thirds of all U.S. consumers expect to directly connect with the companies whose products and services they buy. Meaning: Commerce is less about transactions and more about relationships. Just as the magic of the World Cup is less about futbol/soccer and more about passion and the fan experience.

That's why you want to build relationships with your customer by giving them something they can be passionate about while giving them an amazing experience -- from how they hear about you to what story you tell to how easy it is for them to order. That begins by taking ownership of that relationship with your customers and no longer relying on third-party platforms to do it for you. Give consumers a reason to buy from you directly instead of only focusing on getting your product on Amazon. Create an amazing experience your customers want to talk about and they'll happily share with those around them.

People love to be drawn into an inspiring story. That's why a kid in Iran will spend his allowance on an Italian national team jersey or a mom in the U.K. will buy her trash cans from Simple Human in the U.S.

Related: The 25 Most Innovative Consumer and Retail Brands

Watch the World Cup for clues as to how you can draw consumers into your story and make them passionate fans of your brand. Here are five to get you started:

1 . Make sure your branding helps create more fans.

Nigeria's national team, the Super Eagles, is a highlight of this World Cup because it has elevated its branding by wisely partnering with Nike to design its kits (athletic apparel). Nike has received over 3 million orders for the new jerseys because they are so unique and attractive that many people who would not have otherwise supported Nigeria, have purchased the jerseys and will now support the team.

Look for ways to tell your story so it leverages your product benefits and creates a memorable connection with consumers. Your brand does not need to be the Super Eagles to benefit from a similar strategy. Don't ignore design. It's an important part of your DTC strategy. You can attract attention and more customers by designing products that function even better because of how they look.

2. Put your lineup into play to measure performance.

Teams at the World Cup have a variety of lineups that play to their strengths. Some have a top player, supported by many supporting players. Portugal is a great example of this. Other teams, like Croatia, field a team of 11 solid players.

A team's lineup is much like your product lineup. You might have star performers or a collection of supporting products that are stronger than any of its individual parts. With this in mind, choose your DTC product lineup so it maximizes your potential for revenue and customer lifetime value.

Clients often ask us to help them determine what products are best to feature in their DTC initiatives. Should they go with their top performing retail products, their underperforming products or a mix? The answer is to start with whatever is most authentic and natural for your brand.

In the same way that managers guide their teams to win at the World Cup, you must get your lineup on the field to see how it performs. By testing your product lineup in the marketplace, you'll find the right mix of products that can attract new customers and keep them engaged with your brand.

Related: How Two Former Warby Parker Execs Are Disrupting the $32-Billion Luggage Industry

3. Don't expect your customers to stay in formation.

In futbol/soccer, teams use different formations to balance attack and defense so they can make the best use of the players on their team. England and Argentina may employ a 3-5-2 formation whereas Spain and Brazil are likely to go with a 4-3-3. They choose the formation that plays to their strengths and mix of players.

The team formation is synonymous with your marketing and advertising funnel while your customer is the ball. Just like the ball on the field doesn't go from defense (a consumer discovering your brand on Facebook) to midfield (a consumer exploring your products) to the forwards (a consumer entering the buy stage) in one direction in a linear fashion, your customers don't move through your funnel on a linear path. Do not expect your customers to follow your funnel in the way you want them to go.

Instead, create a seamless experience for your consumers -- so you don't think of them as ever only being in one stage of the funnel but rather "on the field." Direct them back and forth between the discover, explore and buy stages in a fluid manner and add value along the way until they're ready to buy (score).

4. Be patient so you don't change tactics too soon.

Watch for how the best team managers in the World Cup shift their tactics based on the competition. Note how they allow enough time for things to play out before making changes. Typically, changes occur after the 60th minute of play, unless something really goes wrong (or Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho decides to manage a national team). Similarly, you need to allow for enough time to gather statistically significant data on your tactics before making changes.

Remember that as you plan your conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy for your DTC efforts. Prioritize tactics to start, and run CRO experiments to optimize your micro and macro goals. But, make sure to let those experiments play out until you have statistical significance -- before you decide to make a shift.

Related: How to Remain Customer First in the Digital Age

5. Have everyone in your organization working toward the same goals.

When you are mesmerized by the players on the field, it's easy to forget about the staff who support the team. From the managers to their assistants to the kit person, everyone plays a role that helps those players win games. It's the same with your DTC strategy -- your CEO establishes the vision, tone and objectives, then relies on the rest of your team to help deliver.

Your brand can't win unless every staff member owns his or her role, performs it well and understands how it supports the overall brand goals. That's why you must rally your team around a common vision, holistic approach and shared goals that everyone can clearly recite. Otherwise, your team is a bunch of people running around and wasting resources.

Just as one player doesn't win the World Cup, it will not be one initiative that ensures an effective DTC strategy for your brand. You must draw your audience into a story they can be passionate about, put your product lineup into the market to see what performs best, and create a seamless experience for your customer to easily move through your marketing and advertising funnel.

With patience and a united team, you will develop and refine a DTC strategy that will capture your customers' attention and cultivate a passion for your products. This is not an easy thing to do nor something that happens quickly. So, prepare yourself for the adventure and stay open to finding inspiration in unexpected places.

For now, pay attention to what happens this World Cup. Because watching the beautiful game can offer a lot of insight into creating beautiful relationships and golazos with your customers.

Zubin Mowlavi

Entrepreneur, Musician, Investor

Zubin Mowlavi is an entrepreneur, musician and innovator. He is the founder of Lucid Fusion, a full-service digital agency, co-founder of LFPR, a full-service public relations firm, co-founder of myStorey, a social commerce startup, and Departure, an electronic dance band. 

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