National Basketball Association Marketing Plan

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball organization based in North America and internationally. It was founded in 1946 by ice rink owners in New York City under the name Basketball Association of America (BAA) (National Basketball Association, 2017). Following a merger with the National Basketball League (NBL), its name was changed to NBA in 1949. (Medeiros, 2013). The league's offices are in New York's Olympic Tower. It consists of approximately 30 teams, 29 of which are from the United States and one from Canada (National Basketball Association, 2017). It is widely regarded as the world's best male professional basketball league. NBA is also considered an active member of the United States of America Basketball (USAB), a body recognized as the federal governing authority for American basketball by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) (National Basketball Association, 2017). It is a part of the four chief professional associations in America and Canada with its athletes being world’s best remunerated on the basis of annual mean salary per player. NBA broadcasts its games in about 215 countries and more than forty leagues (National Basketball Association, 2017).

NBA offers different products and services to the public through its central business of advancing the basketball sport. More than 100,000 stores in over 100 countries sell their merchandise, which comprises of male, female, and kids’ clothes, jerseys, footwear, and accessories (National Basketball Association, 2017). It also presents entertainment through NBA. Entertainment which is its production arm that generates NBA-based films, team championship clips, and entertainment publications. The thrill of the league is also presented through NBA TV, which broadcasts all NBA matches (Medeiros, 2013). Other multimedia products involve invitation of basketball stars to shoot films and music. NBA’s direct extension products include; borderless basketball, foreign competitions, the NBA training camp, and basketball carnival and caravan.

In the beginning, NBA started as a sloppy league that had no business-related aspects involved (Sue, 2015). It received 39,000 American dollars as its first transmission fee of about 13 games for about 53 to 54 seasons (Sue, 2015). NBA also introduced international basketball stars who brought a large audience to the sports.

Data and Analysis

This section will analyze some internal and external aspects that affect advertising decisions.

Internal Environment

The internal dynamics consists of potential forces that influence the NBA’s strategic promotion activities that exist within the group (Mullin et al. 2000). These factors can include the group's mission and its culture.

NBA’s Mission Statement.

The organization aims to be the fabulously prosperous and honored sports league in the universe (NBA, 2017). It anchors itself upon two principles: the growth and celebration of basketball games and the game itself. It focuses on the players and the teams as well as the excellence, history, and culture of its franchises and the motivational abilities and accomplishments of players (National Basketball Association, 2017). It also supports the education of the game at entry level. The second principle pays attention to the notion that the recognition and the discernibility of the teams, athletes, and the league mandate the NBA to exhibit headship in social responsibility (National Basketball Association, 2017). All components of the association are required to improve the quality of life in their communities.

Organizational Culture

The NBA embraces four values it endeavors to live and work by, and they consist of teamwork, novelty, honesty, and respect (Medeiros, 2013). The group prioritizes the provision of the best conceivable experience, products, and services. Its principle of working is a single entity without departmental lines of split rhymes with the model of Open-Systems Theory (Medeiros, 2013). The theory states that the presence and optimum functioning of one portion are dependent on the being and proper working of other parts. Despite conforming to this approach, the NBA is still mostly hierarchical (Medeiros, 2013). At the top are the Chief Executive Officer and other managerial staff with everyone else below them.

Novelty or innovation involves encouragement of entrepreneurial and innovative thinking. The association focuses on being on the cutting edge and beforehand all competition. Employees do not get treated like robots who are assigned to do the same work in a particular way all the time, but as people with the capacity to generate ideas and means of getting their job done in a manner that is productive to the organization (Medeiros, 2013).

The NBA conducts itself with fidelity or integrity. The practice conforms to the highest levels of honesty, ethics, and fair actions. Respect is also important to the association. It highly regards the presence of distinctiveness and diversity. Courtesy cuts across the members, fans, and the business partners. Miscellany gets depicted by the fact that the NBA runs its business in more than 200 nations, making it the professional sport with the most varied fan base (Medeiros, 2013).

SWOT Analysis. The NBA applies the idea of SWOT analysis for strategic decision making (Kerin, 2009). An essential advantage of the NBA is its logo. It ignites a promoter’s aspirations like respect, enthusiasm, quality, vitality, and enjoyment. The logo is recognized globally by different kinds of people. More strengths include famous, successful legendary players such as Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird, top-notch broadcasting and exciting merchandise, high competitiveness, frequent attendance by top celebrities and politicians, and a large fan base in America.

The NBA has some weaknesses. Employees say promotions are hard to come by since many members of staff tend to take long durations in their employment, especially the senior employees (Medeiros, 2013). Employees find it enjoyable to work with the NBA but find it difficult to strike a balance between their lives and work. Their job is time-consuming. The NBA's global penetration is still a challenge. Despite the fact that the number of fans has grown in the world, it is always not popular in the Asian and European markets (Medeiros, 2013). Fans have also complained of high ticket pricing.

Some weaknesses create an opportunity for the growth. It has a chance to grow its fan fraternity around the world by staging match exhibitions outside America. It can also bring onboard more international players to give it an authentic global face.

The NBA does not operate in isolation. It faces threats from competition from alternative leagues. For instance, over the last few years, soccer popularity has been on the rise in the United States. It also faces threats from other American sports such as baseball and ice hockey (National Basketball Association, 2017). The league meets a credibility risk due to instances of doping.

External Environment

It consists of forces outside the NBA and may have an impact on strategic decision making. The contingencies incorporate the economy, physical environment, technological aspects, social-cultural elements, political factors, and competition - PEESTC analysis (Blair, 2012, p. 16).

PESTLE Analysis

The physical environment is a vital element to the NBA. It can impact sport in many ways. Extreme weather conditions such as the hurricane Mathew have an impact on the practice schedules of the NBA teams, and it is due to this reason that the association has gone a step ahead to join other leagues in the war against climate change (Blair, 2012, p. 17).

Federal and local economic aspects affect the NBA. The economic boom of the 1990’s to 2000’s forced the NBA to emphasize on club seats, suites, and party rooms in a bid to get more money from customers (Blair, 2012, p. 20).

The NBA is always changing with the evolving technology. New technologies have enabled consumers of the sport to get sports products in a more convenient and timely manner (Mladenovi, 2014). For instance, smartphones have increased the ability of customers of NBA's sports access their products. NBA marketers are now focusing on applications development that allows people to retrieve score updates, live coverage, and articles. They also use social media sites such as Facebook to pass information (Medeiros, 2013).

Social-cultural trends have an impact on the consumption of sports as well as their marketing. For example, allowing for the participation of the African-Americans in the NBA games in 1950 brought about new aspects such superior jumping capabilities, speed, ingenious ball handling, and agility (Medeiros, 2013).

External factors Effects

During economic depressions, consumption of the association’s products go low. Technological advancement has enabled the NBA’s marketers to popularize the sport outside America (Blair, 2012, p. 23). Incorporation of African-Americans into the group brought about new styles of play.

Opportunities and Threats

Progress in technology in Africa provides the NBA with a chance to propagate the sport in the continent. However, the league faces a threat of competition from other professional associations such as the National Football League and the encroachment of the European soccer which is becoming popular day by day in America (Medeiros, 2013).

Goals and Objectives

The NBA’s marketing goals serve as a platform to allow for the implementation of marketing programs. They give meaning to the marketing plan, guide the planning process, and define the deliverables. A goalless plan lacks focus and direction. The NBA is a for-profits organization whose mission is to be a successful and respectable league in the world and therefore, the goals of its marketing plan should tie-up with its purpose (Medeiros, 2013). Promotion should aim at increasing profitability through the use the company's strengths (Medeiros, 2013). A profitable NBA can create value for its sponsors by delivering the return on investment.

For every goal set by the NBA, there exist established marketing objectives. They measure the specific performance scores required to achieve the set-out goals. They should be particular, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) (Mladenovi, 2014). Being measurable implies that they should be quantifiable to allow for the measurement of the progress towards achieving the goal. Achievability means reachability (Mladenovi, 2014). Relevance indicates the presence of a strict connection to the purpose. Timely objectives consider deadlines. For instance, increasing profitability calls for bringing in quality players who are attractive to the consumers, engaging essential partners like Nike in the production of quality merchandise over a period, and offering a few oversea competitions at a specified time during a year (Mladenovi, 2014).

Target Markets


A survey conducted in 2000 by the NBA revealed that out of the 54 million fans in the United States, 62 percent of them are male while female represent 38 percent (NBA average attendance statistic, 2017). The average age for the fans stood at 36 years. 65 percent of the fans were identified as married. Approximately 64 percent of the fans had attained college graduate level of education (NBA average attendance statistic, 2017). The household income for the customers stood at 72,400 American dollars (NBA average attendance statistic, 2017). 65 percent of NBA fans live in a household with earnings of about 40,000 American dollars or more, 45 percent reside in homes with a household income of 60,000 United States dollars or more, and 33 percent come from homes with a salary of 75,000 American dollars or more. About 18.5 million of the American adults have played basketball (NBA average attendance statistic, 2017).

Product Usage

According to NBA average attendance statistic (2017), the average attendance per game of the NBA for the last 11 seasons stood at about 17,521 fans. The average price for an NBA game ticket for the same duration ranged between 30 and 123 American dollars. The total attendance for a regular season reached the highest point in the 2015/16 season with the value hitting 21.95 million people (NBA average attendance statistic, 2017).

Product Benefits

Fans can use NFC technology by tapping their smartphones on NFC-enabled labels on their jerseys giving them real-time, individualized experiences that draw the nearer to their favorite athletes (Medeiros, 2013). Through this technology, they are also able to access exclusive deals. Fans are also able to enjoy the thrill of the games through live television coverage.

Positioning NBA

The NBA can focus on social media channels. Different platforms call for different strategies. Each strategy can be tailored further to suit the specific needs of the diverse target markets (Mullin et al., 2000). The team can also utilize the influence of celebrity fans. Stars from other sports who are fans of NBA can be used to change people into basketball lovers (Mullin et al., 2000).

Marketing Strategy

A game plan for the league annexes from this section. Porter's generic strategies will be applied to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for the NBA (Baker, 2014, p. 25). It incorporates three necessary policies that offer a competitive advantage.

Differentiation Strategy

The NBA can offer exclusive products that are not provided by competitors. It can present itself as the only league that is star-driven whereby its players have a more significant effect on the outcome of the game than in any other sport (Baker, 2014, p. 26). It can put itself as the most technology-savvy league by adopting new exciting technologies such as the NFC as well as maintain a continuous social media presence that keeps it closer to its fans.

Focus Strategy

It involves narrowing down to small targeted market segments with products that suit their expectations (Baker, 2014, p. 28). It can choose to focus on high school students through having an NBA high school league.

Cost Leadership Strategy

Cost is an important marketing tool. Presenting lower costs than its competitors could make the NBA more attractive (Baker, 2014, p. 29).

Tactical implementation

The NBA can employ the 4P’s decision tactic that is, product, place, price, and promotion (Baker, 2014, p. 31).

Product Decision

The NBA deals with both intangible services and tangible goods. The intangible services include sporting events, clubs memberships, and sponsorships. Product decisions, in this case, are made based on the experience of the service and not its physical properties (Baker, 2014, p. 31). The tangible goods comprise of merchandises such as T-shirts and jerseys. These can bear the organization’s logos and theme colors.

Price Decision

It takes into account of the amount chargeable to viewers, participants, or sponsors (Baker, 2014, p. 32). The cost of an NBA match is subject to the amount the people are willing to pay or the market allows. Faced with an economic threat of lowered economic growth, NBA can low the match prices to keep the turnouts high.

Promotion Decision

It relates to communication with the targeted customers (Baker, 2014, p. 34). The NBA's promotion decision can be connected to various goals such as the creation of awareness, cultivating demand, encouraging test of products, and customer retention.

Place Decision. Products need to get to the consumers, or the consumers need to get to the products (Baker, 2014, p. 36). Place decision involves access to the produced items by the buyers. In situations where NBA arenas reside in areas with limited parking, the organization can arrange with local transportation authority to incorporate tickets into the public transportation fares.


Consumer Personas

A consumer persona develops by first of all identifying the target groups (Baker, 2014, p. 41). The varied nature of customers creates their different characteristics.

Content Calendars

The contents of a marketing plan are very crucial. The nature of wording, types of images, and the videos used serve different purposes (Baker, 2014, p. 43). They should first be in a position to inform the clients about the business. The content should be in a place to meet their personas, meaning that it should carry the appropriate tone, the accurate information, and proper timing.

Campaign Logbook

The campaigns can have incentives that are appealing to customers to create a high conversion rate (Baker, 2014, p. 46). It may contain inducements such as discounts on a favorite product like lowered ticket prices for those who book in advance.

Social Media Plan

The NBA can keep posting and interacting with its customer continuously through different social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (Baker, 2014, p. 47).

Key Performance Indicators

A marketing plan requires monitoring for its performance. It helps identify the area that is working well, those that need a tweak, and the ones that have to change (Baker, 2014, p. 50).


To be on track the marketing plan, NBA may implement the following evaluation tools to review and decide on their performance.


Customers take questions asking them to give their views on the marketing efforts employed by the NBA (Sevier, 2004). Their feedback contains valuable information about their thoughts on the effectiveness of the advertising methods.

Computing Conversion Rates

Successful sales give crucial information about the effectiveness of the marketing plan (Sevier, 2004). An increase in conversion rates implies that the marketing campaign is efficacious.


A marketing plan should give a clear introduction of the company highlighting on its mission and products. It then provides a concise data analysis of the operational environments and its SWOT analysis. It should define the goals and objectives of marketing as well as examine the target markets. A marketing strategy gets its definition including its implementation and evaluation of its success.


Baker, M. J. (2014). Marketing and Corporate Strategy. Marketing Strategy and Management, 25-59.

Blair, R. D. (2012). The Business of Sports. Sports Economics, 16-45. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139016957.004

Kerin, R. A. (2009). Marketing. Boston: McGraw-Hill/IRWIN.


Medeiros, M. D. (2013). NBA. New York: AV2 by Weigl.

Mullin, B. J., Hardy, S., & Sutton, W. A. (2000). Sport marketing. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

National Basketball Association (NBA). (2017). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics and Society. Retrieved December 1, 2017 from

NBA average attendance (regular season) 2006-2017 | Statistic. (2017). Retrieved on November 30, 2017, from

Sevier, R. (2004, January 1). How Effective Is Your Marketing? Heres How to Make Sure Youre Evaluating Marketing Effectiveness Intelligently. University Business.

Sun, Z. (2015). Brief Probe into the Brand and Marketing Strategy of NBA. Asian Social Science, 11(16). doi:10.5539/ass.v11n16p183

May 02, 2023

Sports Economics


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