I am sure over the last 18 months the majority of sports rights-holders have been contacted by every possible NFT platform, marketplace or organisation, making innumerable commercial promises.
The platform in question will invariably claim they can generate millions of dollars for you in revenues while simultaneously boasting that they best understand your fans and have the technology and vision to reach them. They might also say that you will need to hand over all of your IP to give the NFT collection the maximum chance of success.
Well, I hate to break it, but none of this is true. What’s more, if you go down this route, it will be to the detriment of your relationship with your fans.
95 per cent of NFT projects will fail and are already failing.
But launching an NFT project really shouldn’t be this complicated. Yes, there are a number of technical aspects that you need to consider (such as the correct blockchain, how you connect wallets and how fans will purchase NFTs), but the main concern should always be your fans.
In this respect, launching an NFT should be no different to launching a product or a membership rewards program.
Let’s take a kit launch as an example. Every season, clubs around the world spend months and months with designers and their kit partners discussing every tiny aspect of how their shirts will look, what the marketing plan will be, how it will be promoted, what the sales targets are, and how it will be distributed. When the time comes to launch, the new kit has the full force of the club behind it.
NFTs should be the same. In fact, given NFTs are digital assets stored on the blockchain forever rather than just a season, some of these considerations should hold even more weight.
Here are a few fundamental rules that rights-holders should bear in mind when creating an NFT offering.
Keep the consumer journey within your own channel or branded webpages. The NFT space is still largely unknown to your fanbase, so when you direct them away to a new third-party platform, you will lose over 50 per cent of your audience. Given less than 2 per cent of sports fans are willing to buy NFTs, you must do everything in your power to keep them engaged by creating a seamless consumer journey.
Let’s go back to the kit launch example. Every fan of every sports club is aware when a kit launch is happening – because it’s communicated across all owned media channels and in most cases has a paid element as well.
This should be the case when educating your fans about what an NFT is.
Using the right buzzword does not mean your fans will understand or care. You must talk to them, engage with them, and educate them in their own language.
Some NFT platforms will promise to build you a new community when launching a new collection, but this is nonsense.
Let me spell it out for you simply: your community is your fanbase, and your fanbase are the ones who will buy your NFTs.
So, educate your fanbase, create an NFT community within your fanbase and your NFT will sell.
But the only way to do this is to engage, promote, talk and explain to your fans why NFTs are so important. If you cannot do this, or are not willing to do this, then don’t launch an NFT collection. You’re just setting yourself up to fail.
‘Utility’ is a word that normally follows ‘community’ when people talk about NFTs. What it really means, is ‘benefits’.
What added benefits are offered to someone purchasing an image, or video clip or whatever you are trying to sell as an NFT?
Utility is one of the most important aspects of your NFT collection. This is what allows fans to become engaged, will drive them to purchase and will really help build your community.
Imagine launching a limited number of NFTs that come with exclusive content, like a private message from a manager or coach, and after every game only the NFT holders can watch it.
This is something that will drive true engagement and make fans feel special. In turn, it will allow them to talk to other NFT holders about their experiences, and through this you can start to build your community. Offering fans meaningful, money-can’t-buy experiences is what NFTs should be about.
Forget the money. If you are solely focused on revenue, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons. Yes, I am aware that every sports club needs to make money, but if you focus on creating the best and most engaging NFT strategy, then the revenue will come.
If you set out with money as your only focus, then your vision across the project will not be focused on what makes a truly great NFT collection.
You are going to have to put time into your NFT strategy. Putting John from the partnerships team on it because you heard him mention Bitcoin before, is not the best way to approach things. This is a product launch that needs daily work. Without this, everything will be sub-par. Put a team on the project and make sure you take a consistent approach.
Focus on the fan
You know your fans and you know the ethos of your club better than anyone. Don’t underestimate this point; use your knowledge to share with the world why your club is so special.
Your fans are your fans, not your customers. As a club, you have a duty to protect the fans that love and care for your club. Remember they are the ones who will probably buy your NFTs out of loyalty.
Without a robust and long-term strategy that takes all of the above into consideration, your fans will be left thinking that NFTs are nothing but a worthless JPEG.