In case you haven’t heard…Football’s coming home! Well, at least as England fans, we still dare to dream...

England’s meteoric rise from quarter final hopefuls to World Cup final favourites has no doubt come as a shock to all of us. But to Gareth Southgate and his team of heroes this has come as no surprise. For them, luck has had little to do with it. Countless hours of work, research, trial and error have all placed them on the path to success.

As marketers, our content marketing strategies have a lot to learn from England’s world cup heroics:

Gareth Southgate has proven to be the leader that English football has been crying out for - for 28 years. His leadership has got the squad, the media and the country actually believing that football is coming home.

Like Southgate, you can help your consumers believe in your business by demonstrating thought leadership through your content strategy.

Thought leadership content drives awareness and engagement for your brand – but how much impact does it have on B2B buying decisions? Linkedin recently did a survey of over 1,300 business decision-makers to find out. Some of their key findings were:

30% say poor thought leadership has led them to decide NOT to award business to a company.
91% of business decision makers describe brand thought leadership content as ‘important’.
45% say thought leadership has led them directly to award business to a company.
37% have included a company on an RFP after seeing its thought leadership.

Set Piece Specialist:
Of the 11 goals scored at this year’s world cup (to date) 3 have come from open play. England are set piece specialists. There is no fortune about it. It is well documented that Gareth Southgate’s stroke of genius was bringing in a team of specialists to help them improve their set pieces. The team’s planning is meticulous. Every player has a role to play, and they stick to it like glue. Most importantly they all work together as a unit to score (do you remember Stones’ headed goal against Panama? Incredible).

A well thought out coherent marketing strategy is key to its eventual success. It is imperative that you carefully research and plan what content you are going to use and why. Above/Below-the line, whatever your channels, whatever the content, they should all compliment each other, and work together towards a common goal. Doing so improves share of thought, reinforces your message, improves ROI, and helps you achieve your goals.

VAR has played a key role for England. Usually undone by injustice in tournaments past, England can now play with confidence knowing that VAR has their back if the referee doesn’t. Should a questionable decision arise, VAR ensures the referee can switch between viewpoints so that he can see key events unfold from multiple perspectives (apart from when Harry Kane was wrestled to the ground against Tunisia, but who even remembers that anymore?!).

Examining your content plan from the perspective of your various audiences is critical. Your brand’s story will be more engaging when it is individualised to fit within the context of specific audience segments.

As you work on content, think about the needs, interests, experiences and potential biases of the people you are trying to reach by truly immersing yourself in their world.

Cast your mind back to England vs Columbia; Henderson steps up to take his penalty…misses. Heart stops. Through the gaps of your fingers you see Columbia miss one penalty and Pickford sensationally save another. Heart stops again. Eric Dier (please no, not Eric Dier) steps up to take the decisive winning penalty… he scores! Complete euphoria! We never doubted you Dier! Top is off swirling overhead. Singing ‘Three lions‘ at the top of our lungs in the garden. Life could not be better.

Football captures the joy of triumphs, the frustration of setbacks, and the heartache of loss, and as a 27-year-old Englishman that heartache had become all too familiar. England have won people over with the way they have evoked emotion with fans since they kicked off against Tunisia three weeks ago.\

Consumer brands have long made emotion a staple of marketing, but B2B brands have traditionally struggled. However, marketers targeting businesses are making increasingly innovative use of content that connects with customers and prospects at an emotional level. Don’t only look to successes for compelling stories. Addressing lingering challenges can make for great story telling while casting your brand in a more authentic light.

P.S. It’s coming home.