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3 Ways Marketing is Like Football

January 6, 2019

By: Evan Outlaw

I’m a former high school nose tackle, and as I was gearing up to watch this weekend’s NFL playoffs, I got to thinking about the similarities between football and marketing. Here are three connections between the two that might be useful to edtech marketers looking to kick off their new year on a strong note.


EdTech Marketing


  1. Using Branding to Stand Out from the Crowd

    Odell Beckham Jr. rose to superstardom for his trademark swooping yellow curls, his one-handed catch that shattered the minds of viewers around the country, his fascinating dance moves, and his often-criticized social life. Notice that only one of those points relates to his on-field performance—the rest of them have to do with how he presents himself to the world.

    Just as football players wear uniforms that hide their faces and make them blend in with their teammates, many edtech companies offer products and services that look similar—from a distance. To differentiate your company from your competitors, you need to brand it like Beckham. Yes, you have to start by offering a product that improves teaching and learning, but for educators to become fans, you also have to use every means at your disposal to reinforce what makes your offering more worth their time and money. That means creating an engaging website, maintaining an informative and friendly social media presence, and connecting with your prospects in a way that no one else does.

  2. Teamwork Leads to Victory

    Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers has a record of sustained personal excellence, with stats to rival any wide receiver playing today. However, he cannot escape social media snafus, whether it was last year’s Facebook live video of the Steelers locker room that went viral and hurt the brand of his team, his conflicts with his teammates and coaches, or even a report of him throwing furniture off the balcony of his apartment.

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    In the NFL, it takes a full effort from the players, coaching staff, and front office to achieve the ultimate goal of winning championships. Similarly, a successful marketing campaign cannot hinge on a single piece of content. It takes multiple initiatives such as email marketing, optimizing advertising strategy, sharing original content, and website optimization to see sustained growth in brand awareness. In both football and marketing, the road to success starts when individuals come together to form a cohesive whole.

  3. The Proof Is in the Numbers

    This week was Black Monday, the day after the regular season ends, when many NFL coaches lose their jobs. In announcing why they fired their coach, team owners almost always talk about a failure to make strides toward their ultimate goal of winning games and championships. In the end, those simplest statistics are what matters.

    Coach Bill Belichick of the Patriots is famously grumpy with the press, and runs a buttoned-up system that only a select few of a the NFL have the discipline to follow through with. He may not seem as fun as Odell Beckham, Jr, but (with help from the age-defying talents of Tom Brady) he wins. The Patriots are one of the most successful teams in recent history because of the culture they’ve created.


In the world of marketing, maintaining a disciplined culture like the Patriots helps keep campaigns focused on the goal at hand, whether that’s brand awareness or generating more sales. Using analytics tools to measure the impact of projects along the way keeps you informed about what tactics are working and which aren’t so that, like Belichick making defensive adjustments at halftime, you can change course to give yourself the best possible chance at success.


Looking at marketing in this light has simplified and tied the work we do together in a way that makes sense for a football fan like myself. I hope that keeping these connections in mind will enhance the product you put on the field this year, and pave the way for continued success.


Thanks for sharing!

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