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World Cup 2018 is well underway and we have an enthusiastic bunch of soccer (or “football,” if you will) fans here at Merritt Group. The games have been streaming around the clock and trash talk is reaching a fever pitch. While many brackets are already on life support, I can proudly say that our collective vuvuzela game remains strong.

But what does all this soccer fervor have to do with content marketing? Believe it or not, there are some striking similarities between what makes a winning soccer team and a successful content marketing program.

Know your opponent

Our clients face fierce competition every day, and this creates a lot of noise in the market. If you want to cut through the clutter with your content, you need to make sure it’s differentiated and insightful. Shadow their every move and be prepared to respond to any potential threats. Are they pushing an integrated campaign around a thought leadership topic? Did they just launch a new product? Every coach needs to keep a close eye on the opposing team to know who the key players are and what moves to expect. You should do the same in terms of knowing the competition’s every content move so you can stay top of mind with your target audience.

Adopt data-driven strategies

Building on the previous point, there’s no better way to understand your opponent or the game than through data analytics. Teams today are using every insight at their disposal to gain an edge such as analyzing player diets to determining lineups and tactical plays. In 2014, the winning German team used big data to its advantage. National team general manager Oliver Bierhoff said at the time, “We’ve got this enormous database to draw upon and, together with our scouts, we’re able to take a close look at our opponent and make our plans for the match.” Content marketers should adopt a similar data-driven approach to informing their strategies. From analyzing past content performance to evaluating channel metrics, refining promotion copy, grading content impact and more, use the information at hand to drive more informed decisions, faster.

Be a Team Player

A content marketing can’t live in a silo; it needs to be closely integrated across functions including marketing, sales, creative, PR, partner relations, customer relations and more. While you may be a rockstar like Ronaldo or think you can do it all alone, it’s critical that you know when and how to charge on goal, pass the ball or widen your bench to get help. Everyone has skin in the game, and it’s your job to be the glue the binds the organization so that you can help drive campaigns forward effectively across groups.

Play to Your Crowd

We all know soccer players can be a little dramatic. How many times have you seen someone writhing in pain one moment and then up and running the next with not so much as a scratch? This sense of drama is what pulls the crowd in and gets people pumped for their team. Good content similarly elicits strong emotion. Whether it’s writing a contributed article that makes a very bold claim or creating an infographic that debunks market misconceptions, know your target audience and customize your message to their specific needs, pain points or desires so you can inspire them to act.

If you want to learn how Merritt Group can bring your story to life to engage your buyers, contact us.

Want to join our amazing team? Check out our open positions.