Kobe Bryant, retired NBA player who won 5 championships and 2 Finals MVPs, came to the NRF’s Shop.org Conference to discuss his post-basketball business ventures. Despite being only a year out of basketball retirement, Bryant exudes a more “start-up board member” attitude than “starting a business in a garage.” Bryant opened a $100 million venture capital fund with tech entrepreneur Jeff Stibel, and more recently announced a new sneaker with Nike called the Kobe 360, built with lightweight and innovative materials. Perhaps most indicative of Kobe’s new career direction --Kobe recently proclaimed in an interview, “if basketball is the best thing i’ve done in my life, then i’ve failed.”

Ultimately, in his talk on stage, Bryant’s business discussions epitomized the very core ideas that digital marketers take to heart.

Pay attention to each micro-level piece of your consumer journey - it will prove successful

In discussing Bryan’s sneaker collaboration, Heidi O’Neill, Nike’s President for Direct to Consumer, asked Bryant what attracted him initially to working with Nike.

“Engineers that cared about every inch and every detail of the product,” Bryant replied. “And so as an athlete, I cared about every single second --how the shoe behaved when I changed direction, the weight of it, the fabric and how it affected the game. I cared so much because that’s a direct correlation to how I play. I must take care of every single thing when I’m playing out there on the court.”

In the same way Bryant was meticulous in his approach to the game, marketers today have to be thorough in thinking about both their macro-level engagement strategy, as well as each consumer touchpoint across all channels. One simple misstep in an omni-channel campaign can elicit a dreaded “unsubscribe” or “Turn notifications off.” An ad or email showing seemingly irrelevant content may fade into the noise and background of daily life, rather than opening up a new interaction with the brand.

Paying attention to each detail of the game for Bryant garnered him 2 scoring titles and a long career. In order to create the best relationships with our audience, we need to to mirror Bryant’s outlook in building our consumer journeys.


Marketing has changed drastically, but that doesn’t mean starting from scratch

Kobe Bryant’s career spanned 3 two-term U.S. presidents, 20 North American solar eclipses, and began when Bryant graduated high school: the same year Askjeeves.com became our default search engine.

So when O’Neill asked Bryant about his life transitioning from basketball, his only real career in adult life, Bryant was noticeably open and reminiscent.

“It’s hard to break away from what was, especially when you love what was,” Bryant lamented. “But you’re not fully breaking away from it. You’re taking lessons from that and carrying them forward. If you look at it from that perspective, it makes it a lot easier to focus on what’s to come.

Much like Bryant’s career, the marketing space has shifted dramatically amidst developments in consumer technology. Marketing strategies have pivoted from being product-centric to consumer-focused. And in this proverbial passing of the torch to consumers, marketers should remember that there are still core lessons that make product-centric campaigns great: (1) tell a compelling story, (2) address a real need, and (3) demonstrate empathy.

We don’t have to kiss the old ways goodbye; rather, we can embrace what made them successful at the time, and apply the lessons to our team.

Keep the flame burning long-term

Bryant is known as being one of the hardest working players in NBA history: one of his former teammates recounted the story of Bryant still showing up first to the practice facility, even while he was out from a broken wrist. He was consistently “on” throughout his entire career.

“In sports, you’re constantly driving people all the time,” Bryant says, but “business is kind of a slower process, where you have to figure out ways to keep the flame burning on a consistent basis over a long period of time”.

As marketers, we’re focused on establishing a long-term relationship with our audience. Consumers are barraged with more ads than ever; in fact, a typical urban-dweller may see more than 5,000 ads per day- up from 2,000 just 30 years ago. To forge a lasting impression, we’re now engaging with consumers by leveraging insights they provide, and making adjustments to their experiences in real-time as they connect with our brands further.

Consumers are keen enough to identify the thoughtful and empathetic brands through the haystack of uninspired branding.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Selligent Marketing Cloud keeps the flames burning long-term, visit our website or read our whitepaper entitled “Insight-Led Engagement: A New Approach to Nurture Consumer Relationships.”

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