With the National Basketball Association’s 2016/2017 season off to a thrilling start, it’s important to understand the segregation between big market and small market ball clubs. The NBA is a big business in itself, but incorporates smaller teams that can’t afford to shell out the big bucks to market themselves and recruit top-tier players from around the league.

Discussions in the past suggested that these small market teams would never be able to compete with top gun franchises like Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. And in some ways, small businesses can learn a great deal from these small market teams because, just like small business, their marketing strategy is tailored around far more than a reduction in available capital.

Here are 3 ways that your small business can learn from small market teams in the NBA.



In today’s NBA world, more and more large market teams end up ditching their draft picks for ready-made assets. If a player isn’t successful within several years, a replacement is made at the ready. Smaller market teams like the San Antonio Spurs don’t have the luxury to make those costly moves, so they must strategically plan their draft strategy, picking and choosing the right talents at entry-level price-points.

With the right drafting strategy in place, the Spurs have been able to sustain a winning formula for nearly a decade and a half. They did not need to explore beyond the draft to enlist players from around the league, maintaining a single initiative to glory.

So how does this relate to small business? Small businesses need to develop a solid strategy that fits their budget and their resources. Marketing success doesn’t happen overnight and it won’t happen with resources spread too thin. When small businesses go social, for example, statistics show they find the most success on Twitter and Facebook in terms of building a following. Be like the Spurs and focus on what you’re good at and what’s proven.



Engagement is not only key to sales and growth, but also to gain the customer’s satisfaction and trust (which effectively leads to sales and growth – it’s great how that works). In today’s NBA, many of the league’s high paid players on big market teams offer a perception to their fans as being selfish, both on and off the court. They don’t express a commitment and adoration to the team’s fans and are often disloyal. While big market teams don’t have to worry about their player’s attitudes or fan appreciation due to the high number of fans and consistent level of attendance, small teams have to care, or face the possibility of relocating or bankruptcy.

Russell Westbrook plays for one of the smallest markets in Oklahoma City and has been able to connect with the fans on a whole different level. With his optimistic personality and passion and commitment to the game, Westbrook goes beyond basketball and attains fans’ interest by taking to Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis, answering questions directly and posting pictures of his everyday activities. Being on a small market team, Westbrook realizes the potential impact he has and does a great job building fans’ loyalty to, not only the Thunder, but Oklahoma City, bringing major revenue to the area.

If you own or work for a small business, have a passion for what you do and are able to share that passion with your customers, you’ll form a connection that allows you to create relationships and get feedback to benefit your business. Using social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to connect has the potential to outshine larger companies by virtue of its personal approach and realness. Attracting new customers is one thing, but forming lasting bonds with your customers can benefit your business and your community.



The product of the NBA is its players. The tremendous skill set that these athletes have acquired over the years is the main reason why the NBA has remained a four-plus billion dollar industry. But sometimes it’s not about the players on the court. Your customers’ experience of any business goes way beyond the product. For small market teams and small businesses, it’s about what else the customer can experience from investing their time and money into something that will grant them self-fulfilling benefits. If you’ve ever attended an NBA game, you’ll know that it’s about much more than the game itself. Contests, halftime performances and big screen showings give an experience beyond the players on the court.

As a small business owner, you have a tremendous skill set too. Your expertise in your product/service and market, when shared, is invaluable to your customers and prospects.

For it’s first playoff series in six years, the Golden State Warriors (a California based team that competes with the Clippers, Lakers, and  Kings in its regionalized market) made its fans giddy just by making the postseason. By going a step above and offering specialized t-shirts to its fans and giving away tickets via social media, they’re adding value beyond their product, and that’s the kind of idea that small businesses can easily embrace. We’re not suggesting to create special edition t-shirts, but by providing manageable, but effective, incentives – like a sharable coupon – you’re allowing your customers to gain and share an appreciation for not only the product/service you offer, but for your small business itself, resulting in a stronger customer relationship. Who doesn’t want that?