One of the more fascinating niches of sports fans is the Uniform Geek – those fans who notice every little pinstripe and commemorative patch and worship at the feet of UniWatch’s Paul Lukas.
And those people are exactly the biggest audience segment that Center City Philadelphia’s Pro League Authentics – a sports apparel store that opened in October 2011 – is looking to attract. “PLA” sells pro sports jerseys and authentic uniforms, whether you’re looking for official NFL gear or a throwback Wayne Gretzky jersey from the World Hockey Association.
This still-very-young business has decided that a content strategy is a critical component of its marketing strategy. So in the second quarter of this year, just six months after opening, they launched a blog, Authentically Speaking. The early results are promising as they seek to further the discussion and to engage those uniform zealots who can’t get enough.
“The two owners realized … they had to offer additional information about their products and lifestyle that was relevant to their customer,” says Brad Bierman, who’s charged with running PLA content marketing effort. “In our discussions they quickly realized that (with content, SEO, links, social media, text, etc.) more eyeballs would see their products online, than would be walking in off the street to their retail location.”
The content is focused on the nuances of sports uniforms. Bierman says they are trying to nurture customers and potential customers so that they enthusiastically join the community. PLA’s goal is to draw closer to them and gain understanding.
The ultimate goal is to increase sales. PLA believes that with its brick and mortar store experience as a home base for information, it can have greater engagement with its customers online, get to know them better, and provide exactly the type of content they’re interested in. The content strategy is designed to begin to create a comfort level and fuel PLA’s social media engagement.
“If folks are comfortable with being part of this ‘uniform lifestyle,’ they’re more willing to provide their information,” says Bierman. “It’s important for PLA to know its customers, preferences, past purchase history, to target and engage that customer specifically in the future.”
PLA has multiple writers delivering content and publishes at least five posts each week.
Early indications are promising. Bierman says that web traffic and sales numbers are both headed in the right direction. The day-to-day coordination can be challenging with all the moving parts.
“It’s imperative that everyone is in sync,” says Bierman. “The store for information, photos, content; the web editor and graphic designer for the e-commerce platform; the folks handling Facebook, Twitter YouTube, Flickr and message board social interaction. It all has to be in sync to have the best opportunity for success.”
Bierman sees not only growing the audience, but also increasing the frequency and pace of content. He says the goal is to include customer posts on weekends, and build it to a point where there is enough quality content for it to be pushed to the audience daily through an email newsletter.
For Pro League Authentics, it’s still just the first inning. But they think they’ve built a team and a strategy that can help them win in the end.
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