Storytelling & Content Marketing

Last week at a marketing event, one of the presenters showed a BMW commercial and a line from that commercial really stuck out to me. It was something I already knew, but for some reason the reminder really hit me and has stayed with me. That line, paraphrased a little bit by me, said, “What you make consumers feel is even more important than what you actually make.”

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This line rings true with storytelling.

Storytelling is an essential part of content marketing. Its main focus isn’t on the language you use, but on how you craft and tell your stories to your audience in a compelling way. So storytelling isn’t so much what you say, it’s how you say it.

Determining how you craft and tell your stories depends on your target audience. Your story must align with your customers. You need to know their needs, what they’d want to hear and share with others and what their emotional triggers are. If you craft your stories around the personalities of your target audiences, you’re thinking strategically about your storytelling and therefore are in sync with your customers. When you’re in sync with your customers, you’re able to make an emotional connection through your story that also allows them to connect with your brand. You make them feel something, and that emotional feeling is what causes them to change their views on a particular topic or change their behavior and makes them want to talk about and share your story with their family, friends and coworkers.

What makes a good story?

Word count isn’t what makes a good story. Just because a piece of written content is 1,000+ words doesn’t mean it’s a good story or that it even tells a story at all. Facts and features are two other things that don’t make a good story. While sometimes those things need to be told to let your audience know about your product, they don’t provide an emotional connection. Like Bryan Eisenberg has said, “Facts tell, but stories sell.”

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Good stories take consumers on an enjoyable narrative journey. They have a beginning, middle and end, while subtly revealing your brand’s message somewhere along the way, creating a more powerful, memorable and shareable piece of content. They have relatable characters, a setting, a structured storyline and inspiration from a personal experience of yours or someone you know to help make the story more applicable and personable to your readers.

Good stories also need to have accompanying images and/or videos to help show rather than just tell your story. Images and videos are needed allies with written stories simply because they’re moving and help create and reinforce that emotional connection with your target audience.

And lastly, your stories need to identify and answer the Five W’s: who, what, where, when and why. The why is especially important. Your story needs to show why you’re telling the story and why your audience needs to care.

When it comes to good storytelling, here are some things your story can and should be:

  • Entertaining
  • Creative
  • Genuine
  • Engaging
  • Valuable
  • Relatable
  • Inspiring
  • Informational
  • Authentic
  • Funny
  • Consistent with your brand and others stories you tell
  • Paced correctly so your target audience doesn’t lose interest or get overwhelmed

In order to be successful, your content marketing efforts need good storytelling. Good storytelling is the content marketing tool that entertains consumers while solving their problems, encourages consumers to use their critical thinking skills and sparks discussions amongst consumers online and offline.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Everything To Everyone

You may have the desire to provide as much as you can to as many people as you can. But with that kind of thinking, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. You can try, but you will fail 100% of the time.

Everyone isn’t your target market (or they shouldn’t be), so why should you try and be everything to everyone?

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you needed a lawyer to handle your personal injury case, would you choose a personal injury lawyer who specializes in these types of cases or would you go with a lawyer who handles these cases among their many others? You’d go with the first. Why? Because they have a set focus and niche and only spend their time within that area of focus, meaning they’re highly skilled and knowledgeable in that area. This is exactly what you need to be doing if you want to be considered a thought leader in your industry.

When you try to be everything to everyone, you face several challenges and dangers. Here’s the hazardous road you’ll drive down if you choose this method of thinking:

  • Your brand message becomes lost because you’re straying from it.
  • Lose value to your brand.
  • Slows down your business growth.
  • Takes away the time you could be spending providing better, more meaningful efforts.
  • The more you try and do, the less consistent you are with your work so you deliver mediocre instead of great work.
  • Gives off a sense of desperation.
  • Get easily burnt out.

Basically, trying to be everything to everyone means you’ll be nothing to no one.

The only way to be a thought leader in your industry is to focus and go narrow and deep into a niche. You earn more from this method of thinking, and can offer more to your target audience. It’s much easier and more profitable to connect with a smaller, more focused niche in a bigger way than it is to try and connect with a large, broad audience in a big way. Your mind and efforts aren’t being pulled in every direction, so you have the time and capability to offer a higher value to your audience. When you focus and go more narrow and deep, you offer the less-is-more method, which works greatly for you and is appreciated by your customers.

Your brand is stronger and your business grows faster when you’re focused. When you offer concentrated services to a target audience, 3 things happen: it’s easier to find your customers, it’s easier to convince potential customers to become loyal customers and your expertise in your industry grows, which in turn attracts more customers your way.

It’s human nature to not want to limit yourself and your abilities or turn away someone who could be a potential customer. But you will actually find more customers and more easily find them and turn them into loyal customers when you focus and go narrow and deep into a niche. You become indispensible, needed and highly sought after for your skills in your niche area. You turn yourself into the go-to thought leader in your industry, and that’s exactly what your goal should be.

The Content Marketing Solution: The Content Marketing Pyramid

Arguably the most crucial part of a business’s marketing strategy is content marketing. Content marketing, when done right, provides interesting, valuable information to your current and potential customers, helps you build a meaningful relationship with said customers and establishes your business as an expert and thought leader in your industry.

With all that content marketing is and does, a lot is required of content marketing teams. It’s that team’s job to continually create great content of every size and form, make sure it’s seen and read by as many eyes as possible and achieve the projected results, or even exceed those expectations. Trying to keep up with all that demand under that kind of pressure can be overwhelming and stretch a content marketing team, their strategy and content too thin.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The solution? The content marketing pyramid.

Curated Content (1)

 

What is the content marketing pyramid?

The content marketing pyramid is a graphical representation showing a process of joining infrequent, time-consuming content pieces with minimal-effort, recurring content pieces. Basically put, it’s our old food pyramid but for content creation, with more of what’s needed at the bottom and less of what’s needed toward the top.

The pyramid is divided up into 5 sections (from bottom to top):

  1. Curated Content
  2. Short Form Blog Posts & Website Content
  3. Infographics, Webinars & Presentations
  4. eBooks & White Papers
  5. Print Books

The foundation of the pyramid, curated content, consists of smaller content pieces that aren’t necessarily planned in your editorial calendar. They’re spontaneous and frequently sent out to the masses because they don’t require much effort or resources to produce. This content includes Tweets, Retweets and blog comments, which you could sit at your desk and do all day. Because this content is considered low-effort content, it makes up the biggest part, or the foundation, of the pyramid and your content marketing efforts.

Moving up the pyramid, the next section is short form blog posts and other short pieces of website content put together by fusing the content from the foundation of the pyramid. You could take comments from curated posts to be the base for a short form blog post for your website. This content requires a little more time investment but is still rather easy to push out.

The next section is made up of 3 different types of content: infographics, webinars and presentations. They aren’t considered long form content, but they do take more time to create and necessitate more resources to produce. This also means this type of content is more impactful than the two sections below it.

eBooks and white papers, the fourth section up the pyramid, still require time and research to create, but can be formed by combining several short form blog posts together.

The very top of the content marketing pyramid is print books. This type of content requires the most time and effort (and patience) to create, which is why it’s at the top. Print books can be put together by grouping some of your eBooks, webinar notes and long form blog posts together in an easily and enjoyable read.

The great thing about this pyramid is that you have the choice to start at the bottom or the top. While we showed how you start at the bottom with small content pieces and work your way up to one big content piece, if you have a giant, heavy-duty content piece, you can start at the top and work your way down by cutting it up into smaller content pieces.

Why should you care about the content marketing pyramid?

The content marketing pyramid should be something you incorporate into your content marketing strategy if you haven’t already. It helps your team get more of your content out into the world using the same amount of effort you’re giving now.

It also incorporates two best practices of content marketing: duplication and usability. For any marketing campaign to be considered successful and effective, the audience needs to see the same marketing message in multiple places at various times. The content marketing pyramid does this by sending out the exact same message through several content types. In terms of usability, the pyramid allows you to provide the same content marketing message in different content sizes and forms so you satisfy every kind of audience with the type of content they prefer to consume.

Repurposing content isn’t a new idea in the content marketing world. But when you use the content marketing pyramid, your content marketing efforts are efficiently effective. It helps ensure your content marketing message is distributed in various forms through various channels so it’s seen, heard and absorbed by your target audiences.

All Marketing Initiatives Run On Content… Don’t Screw It Up

2015 is rapidly approaching and we’ve already discussed how October is the best time to ramp up your inbound marketing efforts. Now, we want to look even further into the future and delve into marketing initiatives for 2015.

The marketing initiatives that you focus energy on in 2015 act as the mode of transportation to your company’s goals. Whether your marketing efforts involve a new channel, a shift in branding, or a shift in positioning, effectively planning now will make your initiative even more successful.

What should that planning include? Let’s think again of your marketing initiative as a mode of transportation. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say it’s a car. You’re probably hoping that your 2015 marketing initiatives will be shiny, top-of-the-line, and dependable. Most of all, you want your initiative car to take you safely to your destination.

So, you have this beautiful vehicle, all waxed and ready to go. You hop in on January 1st and turn the key in the ignition and… bupkis.

angry car

Content As Fuel

Why? Why after all of that researching and waxing did your car fail to start?

You forgot the gas.

The gas that fuels your marketing initiatives is content. Without it, your plans will simply sit in the garage, gathering dust.

See Through The Hype

It can be a challenge to convey the true importance of content, with every SEO and their mother touting it as the “new big thing.” But, smart marketers know that creating content isn’t new. And it is in fact content that allows you to reach your marketing goals.

Hype is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it can lead us to an unfair dismissal of a critical component. Don’t fall into this trap!

Content is invaluable, here are 3 big reasons why:

  • The Content Council’s research indicates that 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company.
  • HubSpot found that brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month.
  • AOL reports that 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day.

Choosing Regular, Mid-Grade, or Premium Content

Just like gasoline, content comes in different qualities which all impact the outcome of your initiative. Regular quality content is probably going to get you to your destination, but with a price. The dollars you saved on content might just gunk up your branding and message. Mid-Grade content has a better chance of getting you to your destination and is going to be a bit easier on your precious marketing initiative engine.

However, if you really want to zoom by the competition and keep your brand performing at it’s peak, premium content is necessary.

premium content

Don’t Screw It Up

“Don’t screw it up.” Seems a bit harsh right? But seriously, you must get your content right.

Too often, we focus our energy and attention towards the marketing initiatives themselves: washing, waxing, fawning over them, and protecting them from every little scratch. That’s great and all, but like we said earlier, if you’re doing all of that and forget to fill up on gas, you’re not going anywhere.

How do you prepare your content to support your marketing initiative? We have a few tips to get you started:

  • Determine what content type will support your initiatives. – The content you create will vary depending on your goals. Re-positioning your product? Take a look into videos to showcase the visual aspect of your re-position. eBooks are also a great tool when re-positioning your product. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
  • After you’ve determined type, create topics and titles. – These topics should be intertwined with each initiative and include relevant keywords, etc.
  • Nail down your Q1 editorial calendar. – After you’ve determined the content that will support your initiative, you must cement your editorial calendar for the first quarter. This is an essential step in ensuring that you’re loading up on premium fuel. Knowing when you’re promoting content will also allow you to curate 3rd party content effectively.

We’re really looking forward to the road ahead in 2015 and we hope your vehicles are filled with premium fuel. If they aren’t, we’re here to help!

7 #Pubcon Tweets Of The Week

TWEETS OF THE WEEK (2)

Our weekly roundup has been overtaken by Pubcon! This week marked the 14th Pubcon, which took place from October 6th through the 9th in fabulous Las Vegas.

For those unfamiliar with the event, Pubcon is “the premier social media and optimization conference, is supported by the industry’s leading businesses, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors involved in social media, Internet marketing, search engines, and digital advertising, and offers an in-depth look at the future of technology presented by the world’s top speakers in provocative cutting-edge sessions.”

The Pubcon attendees and speakers are a who’s-who of digital marketing, so we figured they should be featured in this installment of Tweets of the Week.

1. Casie Gillette suffered from Pubcon #FOMO:

2. Mat Siltala’s beard now has it’s own Twitter:

3. To no one’s surprise, Jay Baer owned Vegas:

4. Ryan Jones dropped some #Pubcon wisdom:

5. Ann Smarty gave us a peek from the inside:

6. Bill Hartzer told us what Panda was really named after (as Tweeted by Rebecca Murtagh):

7. And finally, Russell Jones let us know how the attendees were really feeling:

Did you attend Pubcon this year? Tell us about what you learned!

7 Digital Marketing Tweets Of The Week

TWEETS OF THE WEEK (1)

We’re not sure if you’ve noticed this, but if you follow more than a few hundred people on Twitter it’s nearly impossible to use the Home Feed for it’s intended purpose. Hello unnecessary noise! You’re trying to stay up-to-date with the latest digital marketing news and all of the sudden you’re visually attacked by a Katy Perry retweet. It’s okay, we’ve all been there.

To keep you in-the-know, we’re starting a weekly roundup (aptly named “Tweets Of The Week”). This way, you can catch up on the most important news in the Twitterverse you might have missed. To give you a true Twitter representation, we’ve mixed in some Tweets of our favorite publishers alongside ones from our favorite talking heads.

…And away we go!

1. Heather Lloyd-Martin dropped some serious content marketing wisdom:

2. Ann Handley got a new title:

3. Lee Odden was disappointed:

4. Michele Linn broke it down:

5. Mashable can’t even:

6. Nick Kellet got REAL:

7. Relevance reminded us of the components of true storytelling:

And that’s the week in Tweets! Happy October, everybody. See you next Friday.

Why October Is The Best Time To Ramp Up Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

Inbound Marketing October

Well, hello October! For the first time in weeks, it finally feels like a brisk fall day here in Utah. Hallelujah!!!

Who’s excited for October besides me? Honestly, I hope everyone in the agency space is! Why? Because history has shown that October is usually a huge sales month. Woot! Woot!

If you’re relatively new to the agency space, you’re probably asking yourself “why on earth are sales good in October”? I believe the answer is two fold.

The first contributing factor is that businesses of all sizes are planning marketing strategy with projected returns for 2015, and they realize they need more, qualified inbound leads. So, they invest heavily in Q4 to build momentum.

The second reason for the business boom in October is a reason you might not be quite ready to hear yet. Yes folks, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are looming ever closer. Creating, as the events do every year, many opportunities to capture market share and generate new revenue.

Just how big will the holiday season be this year, and how can you prepare for it? Read on to find out!

2014 Holiday Outlook

According to eMarketer, we can expect to see a 16.6% rise in US retail eCommerce this season. The firm sites consumer confidence and comfort with mobile shopping as well as a general improvement of overall retail sales as the reason for this increase.

Image from eMarketer

Image from eMarketer

The rising tide of brick-and-mortar retail sales is looking like it’s going to lift all ships. Even if individuals don’t plan on purchasing online, many will take the ROPO route (research online, purchase offline).

Even service-providing firms need to be prepared for the influx of leads and sales that will occur from those readying themselves for 2015.

So, how does the expert inbound marketer prepare?

5 Steps For A Stellar Inbound-Marketing October

You can prepare by starting now! If you’re planning on beginning to think about holiday campaigns in November, you’ll be far too late.

There are 5 key steps to get your inbound marketing holiday-ready. Conveniently, there are 5 weeks in October! It’s meant to be.

1. Finalize and understand your Q4 goals.

Number 1 is kind of a no brainer, right? Before you embark on your holiday journey, you must solidify your goals for Q4. How much do you want to increase revenue by? What about leads? Nail down these finer points and use them as your North Star to navigate the holiday season.

2. Prepare your Content Marketing calendar.

Planning out every piece of content until 2015 not only gives you a concrete direction in your inbound marketing efforts, but it takes a huge load off of the rest of your year. Creating a calendar with each piece of content (including it’s type, target audience, anchor text, keywords, etc.) will only prove to make your content marketing efforts more effective.

3. Prepare holiday social campaigns.

This step includes both paid and unpaid social campaigns. After you’ve created your content calendar, now is the time to construct a supporting social calendar. If you’re planning unpaid social campaigns, curate relevant 3rd party content that supports your owned content and publish via your social platforms. If you’re embarking on a paid campaign, set your budget and goals, and get all of your content in order (images, copy, etc.)

4. Prepare your PPC campaigns.

Creating your PPC campaign now enables you to simply say “go” when you’re ready to begin the actual campaign itself. If you can begin the campaign early, you’ll have a jump-start on the competition. In addition, you’ll have more time to optimize your campaign and bidding strategy.

PPC newbie? Check out this introduction to PPC campaigns.

5. Prepare your PLAs.

PLAs (or Product Listing Advertisements) are essential to any merchant’s inbound marketing strategy. Kenshoo found that on average, PLAs receive a 73% higher click through rate than text search ads, a 35% higher conversion rate, a 36% lower average cost per click rate, and a 46 percent higher return on ad spend. To read more about this study and PLAs, check out an introduction to PLAs here.

You’re Ready For An Awesome October!

Preparing for the holiday season now will not only give you a jump on your competition, but it might also make this holiday season less stressful. Isn’t that all we could really ask for?

Have you begun preparations for Q4 and into 2015? We’d love to lend a hand with any inbound marketing questions you may have.

Utah Marketing Awards 2014

For those in the marketing world, or those trying to get into the marketing world, there was only one place to be Wednesday afternoon — the 2014 Utah Marketing Awards.

More than 200 of the best Utah marketing professionals and small business owners attended this second annual event, hosted by the Utah Chapter of the American Marketing Association, at The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. These talented marketers gathered, mingled, ate, shared ideas and recognized the big dogs and the up-and-comers of the local marketing scene at this year’s UMAs.

Here’s what made this year’s UMAs a hit with all those in attendance:

  • Met creative, talented, bright-minded marketing folk from across the state
  • Exchanged ideas, advice, bad jokes and business cards with innovative marketers
  • Networked with marketers, small business owners and others interested in the marketing, business and communications fields
  • Made and built relationships with the best marketing minds Utah has to offer
  • Entertained by local comedian John Moyer

Besides meeting and greeting with fellow marketers, another big part of this event was recognizing and awarding local marketers for their skills and influence in the marketing world. The awards given out this year were: Best Marketing Team, Best Marketing Campaign, Rising Star and Best Branding/Re-branding. Here were the winners:

Best Marketing Team

Best B2C Marketing Team Winner: The Color Run

The Color Run is a for-profit event management company that hosts numerous colorful 5k events around the world. They believe and celebrate healthiness, happiness and individuality at each of their events. The Color Run hosted more than 170 events in more than 30 countries in 2013.

Best B2B Marketing Team Winner: StorageCraft

StorageCraft is an international software development company, with corporate headquarters in Utah, European headquarters in Ireland and regional offices around the world. They develop high-quality software solutions for desktops, laptops and servers.

Best Marketing Campaign

Best Content Marketing Campaign Winner: 97th Floor

97th Floor is a digital marketing agency. Their team uses creativity and innovation to help their clients flourish online.

Best Online Marketing Campaign Winner: Salt Lake Comic Con

Salt Lake Comic Con is a popular pop culture convention that brings fans together with their favorite comics, anime, sci-fi, fantasy, TV and film, along with their creators, celebrities and other professionals, to meet and greet and learn more about what they do.

Best Omni Channel Campaign Winner: MarketStar

MarketStar is a sales, marketing and business process outsourcing agency. They currently have 3,500 employees worldwide that serve clients on six continents in more than 60 countries.

Rising Star

Winner: Emily Burkhart, Social Media Manager with Stryde

Emily has been serving Stryde and its clients with her wit and rad social media marketing skills since March. She spends her workdays artistically promoting content through all the social networks, coming up with innovative social strategies, writing insightful blog posts, networking and keeping up with the latest industry news. Before becoming a Strydette, Emily attended the University of Utah and graduated with a degree in marketing. When she’s not obsessing inside the social world, this native Chicagoan loves bragging about her Blackhawks, pizza knowledge and her furry best friend, Lucy. (In case you can’t tell, we’re very proud and honored with this award since it was given to one of our own. Go Emily!)

Winner: April McKay, Marketing Event Coordinator with StorageCraft

April McKay is the marketing event coordinator at StorageCraft, an international software development company.

Winner: Carly Ray, Event Coordinator with Canvas

Carly Ray is the event coordinator with Canvas, a LMS created by Instructure that makes teaching and learning easier for millions of teachers and students.

Best Branding/Rebranding

Best Rebrand Winner: CompHealth

CompHealth is one of the biggest health care staffing firms in America. They have highly trained experts who help people find the best solutions for their specific situations and believe in putting people first.

Best Website Winner: Canvas by Instructure

Instructure was founded in 2008 and launched Canvas in 2011. Canvas is an innovative LMS used by more than 800 colleges, universities and school districts, helping millions of students and teachers better and more easily learn and teach in their classrooms.

Some lucky folks walked away with an award, but everyone walked away with innovative marketing solutions and a pocket full of business contacts. It’s a great and fun event for Utah marketers, so if you missed this year’s UMAs make sure you attend next year!

Digital Marketers – Welcome To Raven Tools New Reporting Engine!

0_ravenblackStryders LOVE Raven Tools! Since the day we launched Stryde, Raven has been the go to tool for our team to streamline SEO analysis and processes and drive exceptional value for our base of clients. We were one of the lucky few who were asked to beta test and review the new reporting platform and talk about how it benefits online marketers, whether in-house or agency based. After testing for several weeks, here’s our review:

Customized, Automated Digital Marketing Reporting

We’ve always loved Ravens report wizard, whether putting together detailed analytics reports or site auditor reports, but after today, we’ll never have to put together another report again!!!

Reports within Raven are 100% customized based on the needs of a client/project and are fully automated. You can schedule your reports to be generated Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Quarterly and the best part about them is, they can be shared with your boss/client via a unique URL that’s emailed to them automatically (if you want).  The reports themselves are interactive and look fantastic on any device, which is huge considering most C-Level Executives want reports they can view on the go.

Building Your KPI Driven Reports

Building your reports is a snap with Raven’s “widget” based dashboard. Simply click on the data you’d like to pull into your report, select the metrics, and add to your report. This is especially useful because each direct report/client has different reasons for running digital marketing campaigns and have different definitions of what success looks like.

Using the summary widget, you can preface each section of your report with a brief executive summary explaining the data and why it’s important to your campaign.

raven-reporting-widgets

You can also close out your report with customized text section that includes a call to action like, visit our website to see our recent blog posts, follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, etc.

The Final Result

Better looking, more robust, data driven reporting done in a fraction of time it took to run reports in the past.

report

And what do we do with the time saved on reporting? Dump it back into strategy and tactics to move the needle… duh!!!

Wish List

We do wish we had some additional branding options than just the logo upload option. We’d like to add in custom backgrounds, etc. to make the reports look and feel like our brand and other deliverables our clients see. It would also be awesome if we had some way of tracking how many times each report was viewed and interacted with. Other than this, the new reporting platform is darn near perfect! Nice work Raven team!!!

If you want to take Raven Tools for a 30 day free trial, and we highly suggest you do, click here to get started (yup… this is a referral link and we get paid if you sign up). If you don’t want to hook us up, no biggie, here’s a direct link :)

The NFL: Is This How You Would Run A Business?

It’s been difficult to avoid the current NFL saga. The issues that have risen in the past few months are some of the most troubling to society as a whole: domestic violence and child abuse. These issues are so divisive, so polarizing, that it seems like it’s on the radar of the entire nation.

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on with these issues, there’s another question at hand. A question that is not nearly as somber, or important to overall humankind, but is worthy of addressing. The question is this: Would you run a business as the NFL has in a time of crisis?

Why is it worthy of addressing? In 2013, the NFL raked in more than $9 billion. That’s billion. With a B. Enough said.

Let’s take a look at the recent timeline of NFL missteps, and see if we can figure out how we, as savvy business folk, could have handled it better.

Timeline of Poor Decisions

The timeline of the coexisting scandals begin many months ago…

February 19, 2014

TMZ releases video of Ray Race dragging then fiancé Janay Palmer out of an elevator in Atlantic City.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

March 27, 2014

Ray Rice is indicted for aggravated assault by the Atlantic City County prosecutor’s office.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

April 2014

The NFL, according to the Associate Press, allegedly receives the full tape of the Ray Rice Atlantic City incident.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

May 1, 2014

Ray Rice pleaded not guilty to the assault charges filed.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

May 18, 2014

Police report is filed that describes Adrian Peterson disciplining his son to the point of bruising and broken skin with a thin stick used whipping. This beating resulted in lacerations on the 4 year olds body.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

June 17, 2014

Ray Rice and Janay Palmer (now Rice) have a sit down meeting with Rodger Goodell.

What did the NFL do?

As far as we can tell, nothing too much beyond meeting with Ray and Janay Rice. Which violates almost every school of thought regarding appropriate domestic violence proceedings.

July 24, 2014

Amid intense public scrutiny, Rodger Goodell suspends Ray Rice for two games.

What did the NFL do?

Suspends Ray Rice for two games.

August 28, 2014

After even more public scrutiny, Goodell announces changes to the domestic violence policy. It now includes a six-game suspension following the first offense.

What did the NFL do?

Changed the policy, changed nothing of Ray Rice’s punishment.

September 8, 2014

TMZ returns with the full video from that fateful night in an Atlantic City elevator, showing Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancé unconscious.

What does the NFL do?

Goodell remains silent, while the Ravens terminate Rice’s contract.

September 9, 2014

Goodell claims he didn’t see the video, which no one in the league saw the video until it was released by TMZ.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 10, 2014

Associated Press claims that the NFL was sent a full copy of the Ray Rice type by law enforcement officials in April.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 12, 2014

Adrian Peterson is indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child in Montgomery County.

What does the NFL do?

The Minnesota Vikings “deactivate” Peterson for their next game against the New England Patriots.

September 13, 2014

Adrian Peterson turns himself in to Montgomery County and posts his $15k bail.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 15, 2014

Goodell hires four female advisers to help shape the NFL’s domestic violence policies.

Vikings reinstate Peterson after losing the game in which he sat out, they believe he was just “disciplining a child.”

Another child abuse allegation surfaces involving Peterson and a different 4 year old son.

Radisson Hotels suspends sponsorship of the Vikings.

What does the NFL do?

The NFL faces scrutiny for its selection of advisers, with some vocalizing concerns over the lack of African American representation.

The NFL does nothing regarding the Vikings reinstatement of Peterson. 

September 16, 2014

The governer of Minnesota releases a statement saying that if Peterson is proven guilty, he is a “public embarrassment.”

More sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch, express concern over the handling of Peterson’s legal issues.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 17, 2014

The Vikings place Adrian Peterson on the exempt list, indicating that he will not play until the legal case is resolved.

Nike and Castrol suspend sponsorship of Peterson.

What does the NFL do?

The NFL either finally convince the Vikings to not let Peterson play, or the Vikings finally succumb to sponsorship pressures.

Why did I just go to the trouble of listing that extensive timeline for you and what on earth does that have to do with business?

I have a reason,  I promise.

“To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” ― Elie Wiesel

In 9 out of the 16 incidents above, the NFL was given the opportunity to do right, to make the right decision, and they did nothing.  And that’s just on the days when they first were made aware of developments in both of these cases.

The NFL had 159 days from when TMZ first released the footage of Ray Rice dragging the unconscious body of his fiance out of a hotel elevator to when they first publicly acted to take a stand against domestic violence.

The NFL had 117 days from when the police report was filed against Adrian Peterson for allegedly beating his 4 year old son to take a stand against child abuse.

They did nothing. A corporation which brings in $9 billion a year did nothing to uphold values that most would consider paramount.

Would you run your business this way? Do you believe that given every opportunity to do the right thing, you would remain silent?

Running a Business in Times of Crisis

There is a common theme among corporations that handle crises with tact and manage to maintain good public favor. These corporations act swiftly, confidently, and in the best interest of the consumer.

Think way back to 1982 when Johnson & Johnson was faced with a tragic crisis: cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. Seven people lost their lives and the killer was never found. However, Johnson & Johnson acted with purpose. It immediately pulled $100 million worth of Tylenol off of the shelves and stopped all promotion and advertising of Tylenol. The company partnered with local police, the FBI, and the FDA to help search for the tamperer. After the crisis was over, Johnson & Johnson released new tamper-resistant packaging, which is now the industry norm.

Above is an example of a crisis so heinous that it would be more than enough to completely devastate an ill-prepared corporation. But, Johnson & Johnson was not ill-prepared and it remains a successful company today, 32 years later.

Why Couldn’t the NFL Respond In This Manner?

The NFL wasn’t faced with it’s product indirectly causing the death of 7 people (we’ll leave the concussion scandal for another day). But, it was still faced with violent crimes against women and children. Does the NFL believe that women and children are not football fans? It’s estimated that women encompass at least 45% of NFL fans. What’s more, every day more children are being brought up as football fans. Most of our own children are wearing our favorite team’s insignia before they can even walk.

By refusing to act, the NFL sent a message to women and children fans. This message was loud and it was clear: “You don’t matter to the NFL.”

What does matter to NFL? Sponsorships. When the sponsors began vocalizing concerns, most condemning the behavior, then the NFL takes a stand. Money talks. Apparently, women and children do not.

The Take-to-Works

I truly hope that this does not come off as a long-winded scrutiny of the NFL. I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1990s, the era of the ’85 Bears was still palpable. We even learned the words to the Super Bowl Shuffle in school, for crying out loud. The impact that the NFL and its teams have on American culture is widespread, undeniable, and inescapable. Which is why this is so important.

The real lesson I hope we can learn as business people, and as humans, is that when we’re given the opportunity to do what’s right, we take it. That when you act in the best interest of your consumer, you are in fact acting in the best possible way.

So please, take that to work with you today and tomorrow and every day after. Take it home with you. Do not allow injustice to occur for over 100 days before you take a stand against it. Do not let it occur for 50, 20, even 2 days before you take a stand against it.

What are your thoughts on the NFL’s “handling” of these situations?

*After I finished writing this yesterday, yet another NFL player, Johnathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, was arrested for assault. The Arizona Cardinals promptly deactivated him. Good move.