The 2018 World Cup Series for Startups: Five Things You Can Learn From FIFA For Your Venture

By  |  July 1, 2018

Much larger than the Olympics, The World Series, and even Super Bowl, the FIFA World Cup takes place every four years, bringing and fixing 32 nations of the world to compete on standard soccer pitches for the very best. This has the whole world on notice, captivating fans, spectators and even naysayers who are out to make shouts for their countries, best players and the sheer experience of great football. This sporting event is the craze of the now, thanks to social media technologies, digital media, giving the global football community the avenue to share millions of content pieces, including over 140 Mn related Google searches, before even a single match was played. Also, World Cup fans have broken free of experience games only confined within their direct regions. These football lovers are now tapping social media platforms such as Twitter, sharing real-time reactions, following the trends and posting images of the event on Facebook to express their excitement on a global scale.

But while the nerves are pulsating, footballers team-playing, commentators pitching and stadiums being drowned in oceanic noises, this Russia-hosted biggie is at the background putting some marketing lessons out there that wannabe, newbie, and growing business owners can harness for the success of their ventures.

Talent Doesn’t Always Win

The Spanish team claimed the world cup title eight years back in South Africa, marking their first-ever win on this international sporting platform. Fans were expecting them to snatch the victory again in Brazil 2014. With some of the best players in the soccer scene and a .large part of the rosters of highly acclaimed Real Madrid and Barcelona, people could bet half of their in-cash fortune that Spain could at least reach the finals. However, they didn’t. They didn’t even play through their group stage, exiting after a loss to the Netherlands and two lackluster efforts to follow. Even England and Italy, the other two nations with a lengthy football resume made similar exits while making way for the smallest, less talented teams to advance to the stage of 16. In Russia this year, we see something nearly identical. The Argentinian team that went on a headlock with Germany in the finals of 2014 is now on their way home, having drawn with Iceland, lost to Croatia, won Nigeria and lost to France. Germany seemed to be gettng back in the game after their win against Sweden, because Mexico refused to give in to intimidation from the defending champions. But, loosing to South Korea in their final group game, they got on thier next plane home.

I am no soothsayer or all-knowing octopus, but I think the teams that will pull through this time around will be the less-expected ones, even though they do so with a few football giants. Portugal lost to Uruguay yesterday (thanks to Cavani) and are on their next plane home. Christiano Ronaldo is gone, so is Lionel Messi and every other German powerhouse we expected to deliver. Did I also mention that Netherlands and Italy didn’t even qualify?

These dicey outcomes and seemingly disappointing results all serve as an important reminder for the startup ventures out there. Success is not guaranteed alone by success. It takes more with effort, innovation, and strategy immediately coming to mind. The biggies in your niche or industry may not stand a chance against your business if you come out right with all of these necessities.

Community is Your Brand’s Best Friend

The World Cup has been great for brands across the planet. The biggies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser among others have set the nations of the world on fire with their innovative, compelling and mind-blowing campaigns that capitalize on the world’s passion for this biggest sporting event. That said, a significant number of these brands put so much focus on tying their products and services to the global soccer community and not to products and services themselves.

For startups out there, this fact is a non-negligible reminder that building a community for your customers and prospects is paramount. If you focus on education, information and service rather than pure self-promotion as a means to propel brand awareness, without feeling like Spam 2.0, you are on the right track. For me, any brand that keeps me at the edge of my seats watching even the commercials is on to something good.

The Darkhorse has a Role on the Big Stage

In the 2014 World Cup, the teams, the teams that emerged among the 16 at the knock-out rounds were not the best in the world. This happened while the highly acclaimed soccer powerhouses suffered defeat and got on the next plane home. National teams such as Costa Rica, Greece, and the United States all scaled through quite tricky groups to emerge ahead of the English and Italian teams, including Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. This year’s World Cup is seeing teams such as France, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Columbia and Croatia making the names for themselves, through thier group stages and competing in the round of 16 alongside other bigs. Though Panama lost to England, they as well recorded their first World Cup goal in their match against England. This is happening because, no matter who the best must have been in the world, everyone, even the underdogs are playing for the title.

At each sporting event, we find this happening almost all the time. For startups, it shows that the most prominent business owners are not always the fittest to deliver the products and services that clientele requires. Newbie ventures can as well provide unique value and differentiation even if they are smaller or less experienced in the game.

Scarcity is Relevant

Thanks to technology, we live in a world of connectivity. With our mobile devices and presence on social media platforms, we can be reached around the clock. According to an infographic, 91 percent of people sleep within arm’s reaches of their phones, meaning that we are more connected than ever. Someone somewhere in the world, or maybe all of us would have the thought that FIFA may want to take advantage of this and make the World Cup happen every two years, maybe. I don’t think so. Not a chance. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup is kept to every four years, because the buildup creates more significant and greater interest as the event draws near each time.

Startups out there can pick a tip from this. Before going out there, have it in mind that while you never want to make customers wait so much, there is something to be said about having your genuinely unique differentiator. Soccer is played all year round and done so on many grand stages like La Liga, UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, among others, but only the World Cup brings the passion and commitment that we see right now. FIFA’s differentiator is scarcity, so entrepreneurs need to think what makes them unique and worthwhile. About eight percent of venture owners believe their products are genuinely differentiated, yet just 8 percent of customers felt the same, according to a study by Brian & Company. Christiano Ronaldo’s secret is consistent delivery, contrary to the disappointments Lionel Messi’s fans are currently facing. Coca-Cola is ubiquitous, so what’s your differentiator?

Engaging Content is King

Amongst other things, this year’s engaging World Cup and it advertisers are doing a great job, giving us outstanding content that keeps us glued even during half-time (I mean the people are watching from their homes). A steady cadence of visual, engaging content that solicits viewership and deep emotional ties to the event and individual teams go a long way to amplify anticipation. The ideas being spread by the graphics, sound/music and words (especially from the commentators) are just spellbinding. Amalgamating these content strategies is what makes FIFA a big deal. And, likewise, it is the company that touches a person’s heart that will reach into a customer’s pocketbook.

In case you missed it in the last World Cup, here’s the true meaning of being emotional with your content. This Game Before the Game video from Beats did a great deal to successfully solicit an emotional connection to the World Cup and the Beats Brand.

Start your business by first understanding which channels your customers acquire information. Sit back and develop the kind of content that appeals not just to their needs, but emotions. Take some time to determine the real pain your widgets solves and base your content strategy on that: what you know will surely work. Find a way to add value through engaging content, and watch the sales turn in for you. Did you see the way Budweiser lit up the World Cup with their ad? That’s the kind of tapping content we are talking about. 

While we watch the event unfold in Russia, waiting to see who will scale through this round of 16, which will ultimately lead to quarter final, semi final and the grand finale, wannabe, newbie and traction-gaining entrepreneurs out there should keep their eyes peeled. And as you do that, always check with us here for other World Cup-related snippets.


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