fantasy-footballIt’s that time of year again, when even people with the most minute interest in the NFL are participating in fantasy football leagues. From the time it first became publicly available for free on the Internet to now, fantasy football has continued to grow in popularity. With over 30 million people playing, fantasy football is turning out to be almost as important to the fans as the sport itself. Even the Manning brothers, the famous sibling quarterbacks, are getting involved with the release of a new music video for DirecTV’s dedicated fantasy channel. For marketers, a lot can be taken away from the impact fantasy football has on the football fan base.

Engagement

The incredible numbers touted by fantasy football are evidence enough of how widespread a phenomenon it has become. What gets so many people engaged in something that is a self-proclaimed fantasy world? It’s social. The biggest reason people get involved is so that they can interact with their friends in a social way that also happens to be very fun.

Fantasy football also dramatically increases the interest in the sport itself. People who would not normally even watch televised football become obsessed with it as a result of participating in a fantasy football league. It is not uncommon for someone to go from not watching any football, to watching every single game on TV. I’ve seen it happen firsthand!

The NFL loves this rise in engagement because fantasy football has an incredible impact on the leagues revenue. Participants in fantasy football buy more tickets to games, spend more money on apparel and team paraphernalia, and most importantly of all for the NFL: watch more of the televised broadcasts. The NFL provides the largest TV audience in the world, and the more people who watch the games, the more the broadcasting companies can charge for advertisements, which means the NFL can charge them more for the rights to the games.

The broader lesson here is that getting users engaged with your product is all about giving them an outlet to have fun, social interactions. Let your product be an arena for personal interaction so that they keep coming back for more.

It’s Competitive

Fantasy football is incredibly fun to be involved in. It makes the games more interesting to watch while letting you interact with your friends in a competitive way. And for a lot of people playing, it is hyper-competitive. People truly care about their fantasy teams. And often times, they wind up spending more of their time and energy curating their teams then they even do on their jobs.

This is great for the NFL. The more people engage with the product they are selling, the more revenue they are able to bring in. And during the ten weeks that make up the regular season of professional football, people are constantly connected to the NFL via their fantasy football leagues.

This is akin to gamification, which is everywhere in the marketing world right now, and that is because it works so well. Getting people involved in a fun, competitive way is one of the easiest methods to hook users on the product you are selling.

Scalable

The most incredible part about the creation of fantasy football is that it is a highly scalable business model. The fantasy sports phenomenon may have started with football, but it has moved on to numerous other sports as well. No matter what sport you happen to love, chances are you can create a fantasy team for it. The ability to take something as incredibly popular as fantasy football and then grow it into something even bigger is something all businesses strive for.

What You Should Take Away from Fantasy Football

Hidden within the depths of fantasy football are some truly incredible marketing success stories, . and there is a lot to learn from the providers of fantasy football as well as the NFL. Creating a product that allows people to interact in a positive way is a no-brainer. Human interaction is and always will be one of the most powerful business tools. Fantasy football also gamifies sports in a way that allows people to be competitive with each other. It is no longer just about being competitive in terms of the NFL team you root for, but now it is about the team that you own. Giving ownership to the user allows them to get involved and engage with the product in a way that is not possible otherwise. And lastly, it is scalable. The ability to take your core product and infinitely expand it is the best way to grow your business.

Fantasy football is one of the most brilliant marketing strategies of our generation, and there are numerous lessons to learn from it. Getting 30 million people to use your product seems like a pipe dream for a most companies, but the lessons from fantasy football can help bring that dream to fruition.