Unlike your typical, run-of-the-mill guru living in MoneyTwitterLandia, I ain’t afraid to “admit” I like sports. Particularly football, American football that is, or whatever you weirdos in other countries call it.
As such, I thought it would be fun to look at the different marketing mediums and assign them a football position.
Of course, I suppose this email won’t make a lick of sense if you can’t tell a football from a soccer ball. But that’s the cool “feature” of writing a daily-ish email: Sometimes I write emails just so I can have fun too. And since I write this at the beginning of free agency for the NFL season, a month or so out from the draft, there’s no better time to write about such a topic.
Anyway, let’s see where this goes:
Let’s start with the most important position on this fictional “Marketing Mavericks” team: The quarterback. Who plays quarterback for the Marketing Mavericks football team?
The QB is the business owner themselves.
Quarterbacks hold a different level of prestige in the world of professional football. Hell, even in collegiate football and high school football do QBs carry a different level of prestige and influence.
But that influence and prestige is turned up to 11 for NFL teams. In fact, many organizations in the NFL treat their QBs as a sort of co-CEO. They can convince the owners themselves whether they want to keep or get rid of a certain guy. They call all the plays, and when they don’t call the plays, they can call off the offensive coordinator who called the plays. And at the end of the day, with few exceptions, the success or failure of a given team falls on the shoulders of the QB.
Who are the big guys up front, who live in the trenches, and protect our QB from getting pummeled into the ground?
Well, the answer here is obvious:
Customer support is the offensive line. There are usually several customer support reps on the team. They protect the business owner (and every other “player” on your team) from attacks and energy vampires. And while you’re probably thinking that customer support isn’t part of your marketing, you’re dead wrong.
In fact, for those young’ins reading along to my daily ramblings, often getting a customer support job is the best “training” you can get for marketing — especially when it comes to the nuances each brand has. It doesn’t hurt that you get paid for learning marketing too, instead of the other way around.
The O-Line is important. Without them, your QB (biz owner), running backs (keep reading to find out who they are), and wide receivers (again, keep reading to find out who…) don’t have a shot of success. With them—and when they’re trained in the proper way, i.e. they help with sales and keeping customers happy—they’re a force multiplier for every other marketing medium you venture into.
Next, let’s talk about the Wide Receivers: Online Ads.
The Wide Receiver position is the “sexiest” position in football. WRs historically get large pay days (though, that’s changed a bit in free agency this year… more on that later). WRs are usually drama kings. They have explosive brands, they make TikTok videos, and when they leave football, they might just wanna become a rapper.
On the field, they demand the ball, and throw hissy fits when they don’t get it. But when they do get the ball, they can be ELECTRIC.
They’re perhaps the best play-makers (besides the QBs) on the entire field.
For these reasons, the wide receiver of this Marketing Mavericks team would be… online ads.
Like WRs, online ads demand your budget. And while they don’t always make YUGE plays, when they do, nothing is quite as electric. But you gotta keep their egos in check, otherwise they become a distraction…
…with the power to sabotage your entire brand!
Now, let’s talk about running backs:
Running backs had a fall from grace in recent years in the NFL. They used to be the prized possession of an NFL team. But the NFL changed, adapted, and the running back position became less and less important.
For example, the average lifespan of an NFL running back is only something like 5 years, which means, after their rookie contract (which is pennies compared to other NFL contracts), they only receive one more contract. Their bodies break down faster than any position because quick speed and agility are the first things to go with age. Plus, they’re hit—and hit gruesomely—more than perhaps any other position, especially on the offensive side of the field.
So, who would the running back be?
Well, it depends on your “type” of running back.
There are some RBs that defy the trends of the NFL. These RBs are massive and demolish the D-line, linebackers, and secondary standing in their way. They tend to last much longer than the average 5 years too. I’m thinking Marshawn Lynch or Derrick Henry.
These types of RBs would be direct mail.
It ain’t as popular as it used to be, but that makes it even more effective today. The way the NFL’s trending, RBs aren’t as popular — unless it’s one of these big guys who can put their entire team on their back.
But the reality is:
Most teams don’t have a dominant RB like that, same way most brands don’t have a dominant direct mail strategy.
For everyone else…
They have the RBs who only last 5 years at most. Which means, on the Marketing Mavericks team, they would be trendy mediums: like chatbots (remember those?), ChatGPT (at least, as it currently stands), social media (which is a trend in and of itself), providing value (jab, jab, jab, right hook type stuff), and so on and so forth.
Not dissing on these trends — they work wonders for some brands. But they’re trends at the end of the day, and most won’t last.
I understand we’re missing a tight end in this offense, but it’s okay. You can fit a TE into any of the above categories, based on their unique skills.
Which leads me into the defensive side of the ball…
First we have the D-line, including defensive tackles, edge rushers (which are like outside linebackers and go into coverage as much as they rush the QB or RB), and nose tackles.
Something interesting happened this off season in regards to D-linemen (and WRs too to tie up that open loop from earlier with a bow):
The past 5 or so years, WRs blew up. They overtook the RB position as being the second most “valuable” and “sexy” position on the offense, behind the quarterback. WRs got fat paychecks… but then the results came in and many NFL teams realized…
…that WRs don’t make a massive impact on Wins and Losses.
Of course, they generate huge splash plays. They’re electric. And, in theory, they can change the course of a game at any moment. But in reality, they don’t have as much influence over a Win or Loss to justify their large pay day. (Another reason why they’re the online ads of this team.)
Well, this year in free agency, the NFL wised up:
WRs didn’t get as much money as they would’ve in previous years. Instead, the position who received a massive surge in salaries was the D-Line.
Well, even though D-linemen aren’t as “sexy” as WRs, they influence Wins and Losses perhaps more than any other position besides the QB. They stop the run, sack the QB before the pass, and set the tone for the entire game—and entire team.
And they’re finally getting paid as much.
When it comes to marketing, email would be the D-linemen.
Well, it’s perhaps the most important medium in the marketing stack (besides the biz owner). They have the most influence when it comes not only to making sales, but also to setting the tone for the brand writ large. They feed the business owners (and O-linemen, aka the customer support team) with intel that can change the course of a game or season or marketing campaign.
And most important of all:
They aren’t drama kings. They’re the most respectable players on the entire team.
In marketing terms, here’s what that means:
When it comes to email, you own your list. This ain’t the case for your social media followers, online ad leads, retargeting segments, etc.
At any time, Big Tech can drop the ban hammer on you — remember, WRs (and RBs to a certain extent) are drama kings. While it’s more likely to get your ad account shut down than it is to get banned on social media, both are possibilities.
The D-linemen (aka email) stop all this drama by generating absurd revenue, curating your customers (i.e. magnetizing your best customers and repelling your worst), and skyrocketing your best customers’ sense of loyalty to your brand.
Next, we have the linebackers:
Kinda like the RB position, linebackers were once the king of the hill, but have become less and less important as positions like WRs (who catch passes, and render many linebackers ineffective) and D-linemen became more important.
For that reason, linebackers are SEO.
You used to be able to “game” the system on SEO and generate an absolute surge of traffic by posting articles stuffed with keywords. Think Ray Lewis for the Baltimore Ravens in the early 2000s.
The algorithm can change at any time, leaving you with a devastated amount of traffic similar to if Google literally “nuked” your site.
Now, linebackers are still important. And some teams still have a generational linebacker that can carry a big load for the team. But it ain’t the position it once was.
Which leaves us with the last position to fill:
The secondary, including cornerbacks, free safeties, and strong safeties.
A team’s secondary is an important position… well, kinda. It’s hard to find great players to fill the secondary. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the most difficult position in football is the cornerback position. Of course, the QB position gives cornerbacks a run for their money when it comes to the level of difficulty. But the QB has an added advantage that cornerbacks don’t: They know where the WRs are gonna run too.
That said, a good secondary can do wonders for a team:
The Ravens had Ed Reed—widely considered the best free safety of all time—and it got them a Super Bowl victory with Joe Flacco—widely considered as one of the worst QBs to win a Super Bowl—as their QB.
The Steelers had Troy Polamalu—widely considered the most “in tune” and dominant strong safety of all time—and it led to multiple Super Bowl victories, the first of which made Ben Roethlisberger the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl.
And the Seattle Seahawks had the Legion of Boom—featuring some of the best safeties and cornerbacks on any team—which led to a mollywhopping of a Super Bowl win: They won 43-8 over the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos.
For these reasons, the secondary would be mobile marketing:
SMS marketing and even mobile apps. (I’m not much of a mobile app guy myself, but Ben Settle preaches it til his fingers bleed, and I’m the type of guy who wouldn’t disagree with Ben…)
In other words:
Mobile marketing can provide a massive boost, especially in some industries like real estate for example. But it’s also more of a “nice-to-have” marketing medium than a “need-to-have” marketing medium (like email is).
SMS can generate massive open rates and revenue (but especially open rates, as most SMS companies say to try to get you to buy their services, not realizing that almost everyone opens text messages because it makes their notifications ding, and people who open text vs emails are in a very different mentality when doing so…), but you don’t *need* SMS to run a successful brand or win the metaphorical “Super Bowl.” It also doesn’t hurt either.
Whew, this email was much longer than I originally anticipated. Thanks for reading this far.
And if you need a D-lineman to boost your entire brand, skyrocket your revenue, and help create freedom (aka, avoid being sacked and pummeled into the ground), then book a call here, and let’s see if partnering on your email marketing makes sense.