5 Lessons Content Marketers Can Take Away from the 2014 World Cup

As the 2014 World Cup is officially underway, the attention of the sports world (and even those outside the sports world) has turned to Brazil, where 32 of the top teams in the world will be competing to take home the famed gold trophy.

Now, much like your average American, I feel that professional soccer falls somewhere between Cornhole and Quidditch in terms of everyday sports importance. However, once every four years, I can’t help but be drawn to the World Cup, backing the American squad and witnessing one of the most impressive gatherings of national pride the world encounters.

2014 World Cup

Credit: www.forzaitalianfootball.com

As my World Cup fever symptoms begins to take hold, I’ve started to draw some comparisons of this year’s event to my job as a content marketer. So, without further delay, here are the 5 lessons I believe content marketers can take from the 2014 World Cup:

1. Make It through Qualifying

Relevance to World Cup: The World Cup features 32 teams, 31 of which earn a spot through a qualification process (the host country automatically qualifies).  203 teams across FIFA’s six confederations competed in matches that ultimately determined their fate for a trip to Brazil. Qualification for the 2014 World Cup started in 2011, and after 820 matches, the process ended in November of 2013, when 32 countries were left standing.

U.S. Qualifying

Credit: www.cbssports.com

Relevance to content marketers: Much like the grueling qualification process the 203 teams made for a bid to this year’s World Cup, content marketers also need to earn their place among audiences, communities, and even search engines. When starting a content marketing program, it’s important to focus on “small wins” to help get the program off the ground.

While broad, highly searched keywords might be the end goal, creating content around long-tailed, refined terms is a great way to gain the attention of search engines and appear on the first page of Google’s SERPs. Crafting and distributing content around these terms makes it likely that it will meet the direct needs of visitors. As a result, they may be more compelled to share your content with peers or make frequent visits back to your site while looking for additional information.

2. Be Well-Prepared

Relevance to World Cup: The problems Brazil faced leading up to the World Cup were well-documented. From a stadium that was deemed to be unfinished hours leading up to the opening game to overly crowded airports, roadways, and other forms of public transportation, it’s pretty safe to say Brazil may have underestimated the responsibility it was taking on. For a more complete list of the issues Brazil has faced with this year’s World Cup, check out this NBC News article.

Unfinished Stadium

Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner

Relevance to content marketers: Before diving into a content strategy, marketers need to make sure they are fully prepared for success. A few things to keep in mind include:

  • Identifying the audience: Content needs to be developed with a target reader in mind. This not only helps identify appropriate tone and style, but it also helps drive valuable business leads to the site. Developing buyer personas is a critical piece of this process. Personas allow you to uncover information beyond the basics, including role in organization, third-party influences, and more.
  • Keyword research: Develop a list of core keywords that the content will be geared towards. This allows content marketers to follow and focus on themes, while moving up in SERPs to increase organic visibility.
  • Create an editorial calendar: The editorial calendar serves as the roadmap for the content strategy. Putting information like title of post, focus keyword, author, and draft/delivery date into a document gives the content team a nice organized vision of upcoming deliverables.

3. Know Your Competition

Relevance to World Cup: The World Cup tournament is divided into eight groups of four teams a piece for pool play. This stage is a round-robin process where each team plays the others in their group one time, with the top two from each group advancing past pool play. It’s critical for coaching staffs and players to familiarize themselves with their competitors, identifying their top players, strengths, weaknesses and more as they develop their game plan.

Coach Scouting

Credit: www.mlssoccer.com

Relevance to content marketers: Competitive analysis is a key piece of a successful content strategy. Much like the World Cup teams familiarize themselves with their competitors’ tendencies, content marketers should do the same by seeing where competitive content is appearing in search as well as identifying their successes and failures.

This research allows marketers to more easily brainstorm marketing ideas, create better content, and tweak their online strategies to ultimately get better at what they’re doing.

4. Block Out and Rise Above the Noise

Relevance to World Cup: Who could forget the haunting noise of the vuvuzelas from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa? Brazil’s caxirola, a small plastic rattle, was supposed to be the 2014 World Cup’s official noisemaker, until it became banned from all twelve of this year’s venues (our ears are thankful). On a more serious note, the players on the field need to be able to tune out not only crowd and stadium noise, but noise that comes from other sources as well.

Take, for example, this year’s U.S. team, which has had to remain focused on its goal of bringing the Cup to America even after the coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, told the press it was “unrealistic” to expect the team to win the tournament. Teams face a lot of pressure and noise during the tournament, and separating themselves from the noise and remaining focused is essential.

Caxirola Fans

Credit: www.aliexpress.com

Relevance to content marketers: Content marketers need to adopt the tough-mindedness that World Cup-caliber soccer teams possess. The web is filled with “noise” of its own. Seemingly every company today has a blog, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and more. With all the content being produced on a daily basis, it’s important to remain focused on the end goal and create a piece of content that will rise above the noise on the Internet. Don’t be just another horn in the sea of vuvuzelas!

5. Pride + Promotion

Relevance to World Cup: Every four years, nations from around the globe are given the opportunity to show national pride at the World Cup. As the tournament nears, World Cup fever can be seen and felt, from group viewing parties at local bars to national advertising campaigns supporting the home squad (see below). The gathering of fans truly is a special scene as they back their home country and a product that’s put on the field that they can be proud of.

Relevance to content marketers: Much like ravenous supporters of World Cup teams, content marketers need to believe in, and be proud of their work. A content strategy that is fueled by belief and enthusiasm will shine through to the audience. Content marketers also need to keep promotion in mind, as an inspired piece of content can drive social buzz and expand to all parts of the globe, much like the World Cup does.

So, whether you’re one of the “American Outlaw” super-fans of Team USA, or simply someone who will tune in for a little weekend entertainment, don’t forget to take a step back and see how the World Cup and content marketing worlds collide! If you’ve drawn content marketing comparisons from the World Cup or any other marketing-related comparisons, feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

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