The Alliance of American Football: 5 Great Decisions I’ve Liked

Have you heard of the AAF (Alliance of American Football) yet? The AAF is a brand new spring developmental football league with 8 teams across the country, including San Antonio.

Through five weeks, the league has really impressed me. The on-field product is solid and quite entertaining. As a Texas Aggie, I enjoy seeing old A&M players suit up for a second chance at football fame.

As a marketer and “business of sports” guy, I’ve been paying closing attention to the league’s business decisions and analyzing if the league has what it takes to survive long-term.

Here are 5 business/marketing decisions of the AAF I’ve really liked. In next month’s blog, I’ll assess 5 decisions I haven’t liked. Enjoy.

5 Decisions I’ve Liked:

1) Choosing to have a franchise in San Antonio

Of course I’m biased, but selecting San Antonio as one of the league’s 8 inaugural franchise cities was a genius idea. With a lack of competing pro sports franchises, 1.51 million residents, and the beautiful Alamodome as a home, the AAF could not have selected a better city.

The proof is in the pudding – San Antonio leads the league in average attendance (28,516) by a significant margin.

2) Framing itself as an NFL partner

From the beginning, the AAF has clearly communicated itself as a partner to the NFL as opposed to a competing option. I can’t blame them.

The NFL is just leaps and bounds ahead in terms of infrastructure, money, fanbase, and prestige – it would be a fool’s errand to say otherwise. By clearly communicating this fact, fan expectations are lowered and folks can appreciate the league for what it is – a fun developmental football league during the spring.

3) Their logo design

Their logo just works. It’s fun, patriotic, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It screams bone-crunching, hard-hitting gridiron fun.

4) Hiring top notch coaching talent

By landing big name coaching talent like Steve Spurrier (Florida, South Carolina), Mike Martz (St Louis Rams), Mike Singletary (San Francisco 49ers), and Rick Neuheisel (UCLA), the AAF immediately gained legitimacy in the minds of the media and fans as a league to be taken seriously.

5)  Reducing TV Commercial Breaks

Football commercial breaks are flat out brutal. In today’s “Netflix era,” having to sit through an NFL game’s onslaught of commercial breaks is a pain. The AAF has made it a point to dramatically reduce commercial interruptions.

The result? Games are nearly 30 minutes shorter than NFL games. I like that a lot.

I hope you enjoyed my brief breakdown of 5 AAF decisions I’ve liked. Stay tuned for next month’s blog – 5 decisions by the AAF I haven’t liked.

Photo Credit: The Alliance of American Football

Partner Oriented Agencies Create Customer Loyalty

Outsourcing marketing is not an abdication of authority. The association maintains control and must be an active partner not a passive acceptor of services provided.

-Rebecca Rolfes, Imagination Founder

As you’d probably expect, I spend most of my free time sifting through iPad publications on the marketing & advertising industry. So when I found the following quote last night in an Orange publication I couldn’t help but be surprised that I’m not the only marketer who believes in this. Of course, the opinion is everywhere…but I’ve never heard it so perfectly stated.

Many agencies talk-the-talk of “partner oriented”, but very few actually live it. It’s not an easy thing to do from an agency perspective. It means being patient when it comes to collecting checks, it means sifting through opportunities & cautiously landing the account you know will allow you to freely express your talent & strategical insight. It means being far-sighted 99% of the time and understanding that short-term profiting will end your ultimate goal quicker than your favorite ring disappears down the drain when you drop it. It basically means finding the select few out there that are willing to invest the time it takes to understand why the “partner” orientation of your agency will benefit them much more than in-housing or  becoming some random organizations “client” and spending the majority of your time as a sticker-label on the name of some random folder stashed away in some unknown place in some gigantic & factory-like agency. phew (talk about run-on sentences).
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For the organization, a “partner oriented” agency relationship means trust & time & pushing yourself to think outside the box. The misconception is that partnering with an agency requires giving up control and placing your assets & equity in the hands of another….totally not the case. It means treating your agency as if they are your best friend and inviting them through your doors to see how things are made, people get managed, and products reach the shelf.

It’s about letting your partner agency actually see what your trying to improve. It means your investing more than just your dollar to get the job done, it means investing your time into the care taking of a relationship so that you can assure the job gets done right (welcome to the business world, where every second counts right?). By no means does it mean losing control, I’d actually argue that partnering with an agency is a great way to take control.

Anyways….Time. Time. Time & Trust. Trust. Trust. That’s what it costs the organization.

So whats the pay-off?

More than you can imagine. Surprise ROI is probably most common in partner agency relationships. Not being some random agency’s “client” means stronger collaboration. Stronger collaboration leads to more powerful ideas. More powerful ideas sell items and services everywhere, and most importantly, they create belief. Belief that drives consumer’s to feel passionate about your organizations brand, mission, values, you name it. In our world, loyalty ain’t cheap. It takes time (and in the business world…sometimes money), it takes hard work, it takes investment. That’s what the partner orientation offers. Loyalty.

Loyalty three ways.

The agency, a creative enterprise, is loyal to you.

You, a golden entrepreneur, are loyal to the agency.

And as a result…..

You create & produce together to bring the ultimate loyalty pounding on your front door….customer loyalty.

Customer Loyalty…..now that’s priceless.

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