Friday, June 01, 2007

Things IFL Should Do To Create More Buzz

I mentioned that International Fight League (IFL) receives far less discussion online than UFC. Therefore, I have five tips for IFL if they want to create buzz. These tips can easily be applied to other MMA leagues as well.

1. IFL should shift toward becoming a hybrid league (i.e. one that has both teams and individual fighters). The team concept is one of the key differentiators between IFL and other MMA leagues. I'm not saying to get away from that. However, it should look to develop individual fighters. It can do this by continuing to sign and develop talented fighters on its own or merge with another MMA league (i.e. UFC).
2. IFL could look into creating a reality TV show. Individuals could fight one another on the show and the winner could go on to sign with one of its teams. IFL could even take a similar approach to that of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars where fans vote on who they like. Increasing fan participating is a way help increase buzz.
3. IFL can offer fans the chance to vote for matches they would like to see online. This would help ensure that key matches get good ratings since IFL fans will choose which teams they want to see fight.
4. Each IFL team should create and update a blog periodically. They should use the blog to update and interact with fans by responding to questions and comments. Myspace Pages don't count.
5. IFL members (i.e. IFL president, fighters, marketing department, etc...) should engage with MMA fans online. They should sponsor and participate in online discussion forums which relate to MMA.
6. IFL could offer free tickets to bloggers and consumers posting online in an effort to get them to talk more about its events.

Feel free to leave more ideas if you have them. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

8 comments:

dy-no-mite3000 said...

So I read your "blog".
1. no. IFl's main concept and it's working for them how they push it IS the team aspect. Slowly but surely people are remembering certain guys from certain teams. They have been doing show for less than 1 year did you forget that? Or did you just not do enough "research"?
2. The IFL holds 10 shows a year, they have held less than 12 shows in their short history. How or "why?" would a reality show work?
The IFL is trying to be something different than the UFC, where as you are offering "suggestions" to make them more like what they are shooting to NOT be.

3. If fans voted for matches it would do a lot of things against the company and their format. For starters, fans would automatically want to see the undefeated teams fight, or see rematches from the prior year.

Atleast with the IFL announcing their schedule (do you even have any idea when they announced their 2007 schedule?) They laid out the matches for the year and it's worked well for all involved. Especially for the fighters preparing, planing and more importantly mapping out when during the year they could rest for 1-2 weeks before gearing up for another fight.
Also, if your concept or suggestion would "help" the IFL gain more ratings, couldn't it be said that for matches least voted for that the IFL would see a large drop in ratings?

4. While its a nice idea and I can't flat out knock it like some of the other ideas, You are going to tell me you want all 6 fighters, plus the coach and the two assistant coaches to create a blog that they would have to keep updated?
The IFL reaches 800-900,000 fans a week on My Network TV. So now you want the teams (keep in mind starting in 2008 there will be I think 12 teams total), so now there will be over 100 IFL fighter blogs? Not even including how many guys have been dropped from teams and new guys brought in? And I am not even talking about the Scorpions.
The few thousand fans who would find interests in even weekly updates from fighters, your idea is to board and gets lost in the mix.
What would have been more effective is getting your current top drawing "names" to do something like this off the IFL site. Hordecki, Markham, Rothwell guys like that who people know of somewhat would help boost interests in fans, but it isn't about to garner interests from non IFL fans.

The IFL has to go out and reach potential fans, or even the more lucrative casual fan, the types who get sold on advertising from ZUFFA to go out and buy a PPV. These are the guys who drive PPV sales upwards of 1million buys, those are the fans the IFL needs to target, the die hards will enjoy blogs, but the casual fan won't go to an IFL show because "he saw a blog online."

5. um.... they do. Our site has done a lot of work with the IFL since they began, the IFL works with many large MMA forum communities with contests, tickets etc.

6. So you just want free tickets huh?

Adam Morgan said...

Dude, go easy on the guy, this isn't an MMA blog, he's just trying to take a look at the IFL from a marketing standpoint.

Dy-no, you claim that what the IFL is currently doing is working, but their stock plummeted over two dollars in one day this week. Check the stock price on FightOpinion.com. The way things are going now, the IFL doesn't stand to stick around after this year.

They drastically need to change how they do business. In my opinion, the team concept is very forced. No one wants to know about the LA Anacondas or the SoCal Condors. If they were able to name the teams after their respective fight camps (Team Quest, American Top Team, Brazilian Top Team, etc) you would have instant name recognition with a lot of fans. There are, of course, legal issues with using those names but it is just a thought.

To honestly face fact, UFC and Zuffa have already branded their product so large on the market that the casual fan doesn't know "ultimate fighting" is the same thing as "mixed martial arts." Sadly it doesn't look good for fledgling companies such as the IFL.

And what "website" are you claiming to be from here? A troll from the UG on MMA.tv?

MarketRMan said...

First, I'm only offering suggestions for IFL to create additional buzz. If you read any of my previous posts, you would see that they are getting very little buzz compared to UFC. Therefore, I'm merely offering suggestions in case IFL wants to increase buzz about its league online. Second, I'm not interested in free tickets. I've haven't seen any of its matches. Right now, I am not exactly an enthusiast talking about MMA. I'm am a third party reporting on data that I see. (See previous posts about MMA and UFC). Numbers don't lie. UFC is receiving over 90% of the MMA buzz within the set of data I sampled. IFL's main concept may be working for them. I don't know what IFL's corporate office sets as its goals, but it's is not getting anywhere near the buzz of UFC. Third, I stated that my suggestions may be used with other leagues, not just IFL. I am using IFL as an example. UFC already has an overwhelming majority of buzz (More than 90%). I am just giving advice to help some of the smaller leagues receive more online buzz. Again, my ideas are only ideas. They may or may not work. However, IFL or any other MMA league won't know unless they try them. I give credit when due. UFC is doing something right. They were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. Also, they received higher ratings than NBA playoff games. I can't say the same for IFL yet. Thanks for the comments. I am impressed to see such enthusiastic fans. I haven't seen too many MLB or NBA fans get this upset over a blog post. Keep up the good work IFL fan :o)!

MarketRMan said...

Thanks for taking my back Adam. I didn't mean to upset dy-no-mite3000. I'm am glad he is very enthusiastic. Again, I'm new to the sport. Furthermore, this is a marketing blog. I'm a third party looking in. I know very little. My main purpose at this point is only to show that MMA leagues are rising in popularity. However, I don't see any good in a falling stock price unless you can short sell it and make a profit.

MarketRMan said...

dy-no-mite3000...as far as question #4 goes...the blog idea...I'm not saying each member needs to keep a blog. I'm suggesting each team maintain a blog. Blogs are a great way to increase fan participation. Curt Schilling of the Boston Redsox maintains a blog at http://38pitches.com. They are not hard to update. I work 50+ hours a week, I'm married and training for a marathon. I still find time to update mine. Adam called you out..falling stock prices don't lie..IFL has some work to do...of course, its only my opinion.

dragomort said...

The IFL business model has some serious holes in it, as it seems to be in dire need of cash-flow. However, I think the current stock price is a result of how vastly inflated it was a while back combined with how cheap it was to start with and the bad reports of their current profitability.

They started out with good buzz by linking themselves to the UFC on 60 minutes, yet have done little to leverage that after their stock sold off. Combined with the way they spend too much on promoting venues they can't fill and their policy of over-extending themselves it's lead them into a potential corner.

Concerning dyno, he's from www.bloodyknux.com and the IFL has offered prize packs, etc through them like you suggested. While I'm not sure how good they've been to other sites, they've been very good to us so far.

I think that the IFL has done a lot of what you're suggesting already, they've just made a few sizable mistakes along the way. I think right now is the critical point where they've just built up some interest and are regularly getting a sizable portion of fans to show up at live events. It just takes time for that to happen and it's a lot longer than most would think, especially when they shoot big and come up short for such a long time.

Anyway, looking at your points individually:

Point #1- Single matches and team matches can work, but during their first several shows they did that and they also currently do that every couple of cards with 'superfights' between well known competitors and coaches.

Point #2- This might get a few extra fans; however,the IFL is trying to be a different product than the UFC and this would simply make them look like UFC extra-lite by copying their reality show fame. If they can come up with a way to do it that doesn't look like a shallow knock off of BodogFight or TUF, then they have a chance on it.

Point #3-It's a league format. All of the good teams should end up fighting each other regardless. Having a poll like that may work for their 'superfights', but not for the league atmosphere they're trying to create.

Point #4&5- A good idea

http://www.ifl.tv/Blog-Mixed-Martial-Arts.html

Obviously, they thought so too. I can tell you that they tried it at the least, but not why they stopped. I would also add that they should be promoting things like that and especially this-

http://www.ifl.tv/News-07May-23-Dear-Don-7.html

The real issue is with their promotion of such features (and their shows) more than implementing them in the first place.

and Point #6 was addressed above with their love of at least one MMA fan site and I can only imagine there are others.

dcbooks said...

Lots of interesting points.

A couple of notes, the IFL is the #1 rated show on My Network, and doing very well with the 18-24yo on Monday nights. The shows are consistently drawing bigger gates. 7k last night. Stock price has much more to do with hype than company viability, though bad stock reputation can kill any chance of attracting more investors.

Fox will hopefully see the potential with the IFL and get some live events going on a channel people have heard of. The promotion is solidly loved by the athletes who've worked for them, and they are reinvesting every cent into promoting. I hope they'll last another full season, and have time to see the name brand grow.

MMA fans online are extremely vocal and often negative. They see the IFL as competition with their beloved UFC, and not another product in the world of MMA. The team concept is easy to attack as really only 2 guys are in the ring, but no one has a problem following Team USA in the Olympics. Some teams are natural like the MFS Silverbacks, Team Quest's Wolf Pack, Gracie's Pitbulls etc. They may need to focus more on each coach's training camp, and how they pull a team together to make it palatable for the fans.

I hope they can pull this off. I love free MMA on broadcast, and events all over you can see locally.

MarketRMan said...

Thanks for the comments guys...I'll make sure to check your blogs out and link up to them...Again, thanks for keeping an open mind....I enjoy getting feedback, both positive and negative. I would never remove any comments even I am completely against them.