In Basketball and Brand Protection – Gotta Defend To Win
The Denver Nuggets led the NBA in scoring in 2012-2013 by averaging 106.1 points. They also averaged an impressive 47.8% field goal percentage throughout the season while dishing out over 24 assists per game. So when they go out and drop 117 points, 50% field goal percentage, and 27 assists…they blow out their opponent, right?
Nope! Denver lost Game #2 of the 2012-2013 Playoffs by letting the Golden State Warriors score 131 points on 65% field goal percentage!
You Gotta Defend to Win!! Here are three crucial aspects of basketball defense that the Denver Nuggets failed to execute in this game – and their parallels in business.
1. On-Ball Defense
This is the simplest defense to understand, but it is the hardest to execute against a superstar. The goal is to keep a defender in front of the dribbler at all times. and try to get them to pick up their dribble. The defender should contest any shot attempts by keeping their hands up to block the shot or at least obstruct the view to the basket. Throughout the night, the Warriors’ players drove to the hoop or got wide open jump shots.
On-ball defense requires agility and endurance. You are often back-pedaling while trying to keep your hands up. When your brand is under attack, you are often back-pedaling and trying to get enough distance to gain perspective on the source, context, and severity of the attack. Stay in front of the threat, so they do not get a free shot at your brand reputation. “Keep a hand up” by keeping the consumers engaged. Let them know you are aware of their issue, and you are actively trying to resolve it. Finally, basketball defenders get called for a foul when they become too aggressive with the ball-handler. Do not pick up a foul with the consumer by becoming aggressively defensive about your brand.
2. Pick and Roll Defense
The well-executed pick and roll play is one of the toughest to defend in basketball. Let’s say you are a little guy trying to defend your opponent. All of a sudden, your opponent dribbles to the side – where a much bigger guy is doing his best impression of becoming an insurmountable brick wall obstacle to your progress (the big guy sets the “pick”)! Do you…
Pick and Roll (Photo credit: Nathan Wind as Cochese)
- Splatter yourself against the brick wall and crumble to the floor (it happens in the NBA)
- Try to squeeze between the guys and cover your original man
- Go around the brick wall which takes precious time and gives your original man “space” to shoot the ball or pass
- Switch to defending the big guy while his big defender takes your much smaller – and quicker – opponent
Defending the pick and roll requires a more mature understanding of the game. It also requires teamwork and hustle. The pick and roll punishes defensive laziness.
When your brand comes under attack, it is quite possible that other consumers will jump on the bandwagon. Critics will come out of the woodwork! Some of the concerns will be legitimate, some will see the opening as an opportunity to bring up unrelated issues, and others will simply be trolls who relish the power of taking down a brand’s reputation on a public forum. You will need teamwork to survive! Have Response Guidelines in place to know WHO on your team can help with the threat. Just like different players on a basketball team fill a role (e.g. point guard or power forward), different role players on your company’s team may need to step in and defend. Is this just a customer service issue, or is there a product issue that may require getting a product engineer involved? If the customer complaint is due to inappropriate behavior by one of your employees, you may need to involve Human Resources.
It is imperative that you avoid defensive laziness! If you do not have a plan on how to handle obstacles and objections, or if you are simply slow to react and give the consumers “time and space” to have their complaint take root and go viral, you will be run out of your own building!
3. Weak-Side Defense
There are several examples in basketball where weak-side defense can “save the day”. This usually involves a defender leaving his own responsibility to help cover a teammate’s responsibility. A good example is that brick wall that set the “pick” in the pick and roll play mentioned earlier. Once the ball moves past him, he “rolls” to the basket while his defender is occupied with the ball handler. A savvy defender will leave his own man to cover the open guy that has a free run at the basket.
Good defenders in basketball need to have “eyes in the back of their head”. They need to know when another player is getting ready to pick them off, and they need to know when an opponent is getting a free run at the basket. Good defenders also work as a team, and they are constantly talking/barking at each other to setup the defense.
As a company, you never want a complaint against your brand that goes unnoticed. You do not want a discussion about your brand – good or bad – that doesn’t grant you the opportunity to get involved and best represent your story. You need to monitor all channels for brand mentions! People are talking about your brand right now, and it is not in a survey or to your customer support. At a minimum, you should have active Twitter Accounts and a Facebook Fan Page where consumers can engage you directly. Then add Google Alerts to pick up mentions of your brand in blog titles, news articles, or review sites.
Basketball players like to “scoreboard watch” to see how other teams in their division are doing in their games. You can monitor your competition by following their social profiles and keywords associated with your industry and products. Hootsuite is a nice starting point for doing this kind of monitoring. However, if you want all of this monitoring to provide actionable intelligence in one place – tracking your brand mentions, your competitors’ mentions and keywords, tweets, Facebook and Google+ statuses, Pinterest, Instagram, review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and so much more – then you need me to demonstrate Mantis Pulse Analytics for you!
Find those brand conversations, understand the context and sentiment of your consumers, and then engage for a winning strategy! You Gotta Defend To Win!!
Enjoy the NBA playoffs…I’ll enjoy mine much more if the Denver Nuggets get out of the first round!