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3 CX Marketing Lessons from the Legends of the Chicago Bulls

When I introduce myself to new people, I make sure to include the phrase born and raised in Chicago as I’ve always felt pride in saying that. It acknowledges that I’ve grown up knowing what makes a pizza superior, and I never complain about 94-degree weather in August because I know what a negative 30 windchill feels like in winter. And I also know, without a doubt, that the 90’s Chicago Bulls remain the greatest sports dynasty with the greatest basketball player of all time.

I recall being a youngster cramming on the couch next to my siblings with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew, a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, and turning on our family TV to watch Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen score outlandish amount of points against the Utah Jazz. I relished Dennis Rodman dominating the paint, sporting hot pink hair. These childhood memories have infiltrated my wardrobe even as a 30-something woman as my inner voice says, “another day, another Bulls jersey.” Let’s just establish that if I ever do randomly run into Dennis Rodman, the odds that I’ll be wearing his jersey are very high.

When I joined the Oracle CX team and found out the Chicago Bulls, were a customer through Chicago Bulls Kid Nation, my heart skipped a beat! This excitement led to finding out why and how the Bulls are using Oracle CX Marketing. Bulls Kid Nation leverage CX Marketing in a very similar fashion that the 90s Chicago Bulls played, and here’s how.

Aside from collecting championships, the 90’s Chicago Bulls were known for 3 things:

1. Differentiation

Before Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls in 1984, they had faltered as a team and as a franchise. From 1975-1984, the Bulls had only made the playoffs twice. They had never won a championship title before Jordan. At the time that “Mike” Jordan was drafted after leaving UNC early, the NBA was dominated by players who played center. The big guys ran the show. Jordan was a guard, so there were many who questioned his abilities before they saw him play. There’s no question that drafting Michael Jordan was instrumental in differentiating the Chicago Bulls into franchise greatness. Just watch this compilation video from his rookie season.

Before using CX Marketing (Eloqua), Bulls Kid Nation realized that many teams had “too playful” of a design that was geared more towards kids than parents. Now they use Eloqua to deliver differentiated content and experiences. Their design is clean, information is easy to enter, and for parents signing up their kids, it’s quick and efficient. Eloqua gives their marketing team full control on how items function and it’s been a win-win for both customers and internal users.

2. Personalization

Every individual on the Chicago Bulls team had a specific gift that elevated the team’s play as a whole. Dennis Rodman didn’t care about the glory that the offense got. He was a true believer that defense won the game. He often sacrificed his body to win a rebound. Scottie Pippen is an all-time great along with Michael, but he was always seen as Jordan’s right-hand man. He put himself in Jordan’s shadow for the greater good of the team. Steve Kerr’s decisiveness at point-guard was pivotal in shooting and scoring the winning shot that earned the Bulls their 5th title in 1997.

The marketing team knows that their fans all have distinct talents and likes. Therefore, building unique ways to communicate with them is critical. When gathering data from their fans to access in Eloqua to better understand their likes and interests, they go beyond asking the simple and mundane questions such as name, birthday, and gender. They also collect insights from answers by asking fun questions such as favorite player, do they play basketball, have they attended the United Center – all to communicate with them more effectively. This helps deliver a stronger message that adapts and grows with the child as they continue in the youth fan funnel.

3. Branding

We’ve talked about the distinct players for the Bulls, their attributes, and what they brought to their team in terms of talents. But what we can also establish is the unique ability that each player contributed to the very brand of the team. The Bulls franchise went from being valued at $18.7 million to over $105 million in 1985. Forbes has estimated the Chicago Bulls value to be over 3 billion dollars. Much of this can be attributed to the 90’s Bulls, the championships they won, and the characters on those teams.

Branding isn’t merely a logo but is the perception of the sum total of every interaction a brand has with its customers. Feelings, thoughts, and insights that are evoked when someone in a room speaks your name is the true worth of your brand.

If you were a Chicago-suburban kid in 1996, you’d venture into the city via the Kennedy Expressway. As you entered the city limits, you’d be greeted by a 75-foot mural that often featured Dennis Rodman’s distinct hair color of choice. This mural caused so many motorists to brake, that traffic jams stretched for miles, sometimes causing accidents. As traffic increased on the expressway, the mural had to be taken down, only to be brought back up after the Bulls clinched their fourth title.  Rodman and the Bulls built the brand from the ground up. They were exceptional at what they did, which was more than just play basketball. They had a level of authenticity that was inspirational. Who else had leopard print hair in the NBA in 1997? Who else starred in a little-known movie featuring Bugs Bunny and the other looney toons? Speaking of Space Jam, check out their website that hasn’t changed since 1996, in anticipation of the sequel coming in 2021.

In marketing, the customer doesn’t care about the tools being utilized when interacting with a brand. They care about the experience. And that experience with the customer is what builds the brand. Falter with the experience, you’d just as easily lose your customer. Continue to progress with your organization’s brand, the more you’ll see your pipeline expand, which is exactly what Chicago Bulls Kid Nation leverages Eloqua to do for them –  deliver a constant and seamless customer experience, from when the parents first sign up their kids and input their information to when they get their first Kid Nation package in the mail. This experience is heightened, individualized, and customized making their brand of singular importance to their fans and members.

The next time a youngster tries to tell you about an up-and-coming new player being drafted in the NBA, make sure you remind them of the greatest NBA franchise of all time.

Want to learn more about Oracle CX Marketing? Find out more here.

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