No man hugs. No bands. No crowds. And still the NFL set a ratings record for the number of people who watched the draft last weekend.
At times the whole production felt like a gangly colt trying to find its footing. The commissioner needed a wardrobe change and eventually had to sit down to look more comfortable.
We got a glimpse into a lot of living rooms and we saw genuine expressions of emotions, free from over-production and slick special effects.
It was nothing like what the league had in mind in January—just like your businesses. The NFL had to seriously adjust their plans. The league had to do the same thing - the draft, just very differently. And according to the most important metric, TV ratings, the NFL succeeded.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons for that ratings success. No competition helps. The country is starved for a live sporting event—even a live sporting event that essentially one guy reading the names of a bunch of other guys. But the league and its broadcast partners got out of their old way of thinking and pushed the boundaries. They tried new ways to deliver an old product.
Along the way, the NFL discovered two principles that all business leaders and managers can lean on.
First, In uncertain and trying times there is still an appetite for what they are selling. They just had to get creative in how they delivered the goods. Now that the country has moved past the initial shock wave and disorientation of isolation caused by COVID-19, there is probably still an appetite for what your company makes or delivers. What can you do to satisfy that appetite? Notice I did not use the word “perfectly.” Now is not the time for perfection. It’s the time for connection. How can you make your audience, your client base, your marketplace feel like you are listening and delivering what they most want? The answer is probably a few phone calls or emails away. Just ask.
Here's one of the things we did at Truvelop. Our customers asked for help managing a sudden remote workforce. So we pulled together resources focused on exactly that one thing. You can find it here.
The answers will lead you to the second principle that the NFL tapped into during Draft Weekend: a hungry audience is far less picky than a bored audience or an audience that expects perfection.
America was craving a live sporting event. Something. Anything. Please. In normal times, people would have gone berserk over the notion of the commissioner hosing the draft from his basement. But these aren’t normal times for the NFL - or for your company.
Waiting for things to return to normal so you can put together the best product, delivery, marketing, etc. is the wrong strategy. Your backup plan isn’t going to be as polished, slick, and awesome as your original plan. That’s why it was the backup plan! Implement it anyway. You will be amazed at how forgiving the marketplace is right now.
Your marketplace is craving connection, not perfection. And if you have to use your basement to establish that connection, go for it. The results might surprise you.