The Core - A Blog by DMA Solutions
Jordan Glover
Posted by Jordan GloverAugust 12, 2020 6:00 AM

There have been several moments throughout 2020 that I know will stick with me forever. One memory that I will never forget is when I curled up on my couch in mid-March to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Utah Jazz when, before tip off, the team doctor sprinted on to the court stopping the game. Soon after, we received word that Rudy Gobert, with the Utah Jazz, had tested positive for the coronavirus and the league would be suspended indefinitely. 

The NBA had to pivot everything they had planned for the upcoming playoffs, develop a plan to safely finish the season, and ultimately brainstorm ways to recoup losing billions of dollars in revenue. While we aren’t out of the weeds quite yet, the NBA’s “bubble” experiment to host games in one location, without fans on a COVID free campus is an innovative, temporary solution that we can learn from. 

Here are some marketing lessons we can learn from the NBA “bubble”: 

Have a plan 

March 11, 2020 - NBA was canceled. July 30, 2020 - NBA was back (in a very modified format). For almost five months, the NBA was hard at work developing a plan to safely finish the season. This included execution with Disney for a COVID-free campus, communication with health officials and ultimately buy-in from all teams and players to sacrifice three months away from friends and family. 

While it may not be as large scale as the NBA, developing marketing plans for fresh produce can feel just as daunting. From developing an overall marketing plan for the year to creating a strategy for a single promotion, having a plan and sticking to it is key. Painted on Dan’l’s office wall is a quote from our beloved Dolly Parton that reads, “find out who you are and do it on purpose.” We can apply that lesson to our brands, as well. Develop a strategy for your brand, and do it on purpose.  

Developing strategic plans can be overwhelming. Here are some ideas to help: 

Be ready to adapt

While, of course, you should have a plan in place, the only thing certain in this world is uncertainty. So be ready to adapt! The NBA was only weeks away from the playoffs, meaning all of the planning and execution that makes the NBA playoffs so incredible was already underway. I’m sure many marketers in the fresh produce industry felt the same way when COVID-19 hit. You probably had a lot of content already scheduled for the spring and summer season, potentially had some consumer promotions ready to roll out and then… everything changed. Time and time again, we’re reminded in this industry of the need to adapt. Companies and brands that can adapt are the companies and brands that survive. Whether it’s COVID-19 or whatever comes at us in the future, quickly adapting our marketing plans will help us not only survive, but also thrive. 

Sometimes you might have to erase content completely, other times it just takes tweaking the messaging to be more relevant and not sound tone deaf. Here are some practical ways to adapt your content and strategy: 

Focus on your audience 

The NBA knew they couldn’t disappoint fans like me by dismissing a whole season (I mean sure, maybe their motive was to generate revenue after losing billions of dollars - but let’s pretend they did it just for us!). They gave the people what they wanted and developed a plan to meet consumer needs. When you’re struggling to develop a plan or adapt content, the main question should be “how can I best serve our consumer?” During COVID-19, consumers are needing practical information like how to wash fresh produce. During the holiday season, consumers will be in need of tasty recipes. 

If you’re not sure what your consumer is in need of, don’t be afraid to ask. We’ve found great success by conducting a simple poll on social media to see how we can best serve our audience. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Be consistent  

The only way the NBA “bubble” will work is if they’re consistent. And from what I've read, they’ve taken consistency to a new level. In order to enter the “bubble,” each person had to isolate and receive two negative COVID tests. The players are tested regularly, and if any player leaves the “bubble” or even has food delivered, they’re required to quarantine for an additional 10 days in an isolated location. The “bubble” is only as strong as the weakest link, so it’s important for each team, player, coach and staff to stick to the plan and be consistent. 

The same goes for marketing fresh produce. Whether it’s sensitive times, like the situations we’ve been presented in 2020, or the best of times, it’s important for brands to remain consistent. Stay consistent with your voice, with your repetition and with your content. Make sure to communicate these things with your sales and executive team so the whole company is on the same page. We’re stronger together! 

Here are some tips to help with consistency: 

Between having a plan, adapting, focusing on the audience and remaining consistent, the NBA has found a way to bring back the joy of sports. We, as marketers in the fresh produce industry, can revitalize our “season” by applying some of the same principles. 

Needing some help getting started? Schedule a free brainstorm with our team today!

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