Marketing Lessons From 'Loud Mouth' Lavar Ball

There's been plenty talk about this rambunctious basketball dad. If you haven't heard of him by now, then clearly you don't watch sports. He's the hottest athlete's parent since Richard Williams and Earl Woods. It's starting to feel like Lavar Ball is becoming the Kris Jenner of basketball, and If he keeps at this pace he'll be doing more than just "Keeping Up With the Kardashians"; he'll be taking the crown as top 'Parentrenpreur'. So regardless of the controversy, here are three (3) marketing lessons we can learn from a dad with no MBA, just sons with NBA dreams.

ATTENTION Always Wins

At its core what is the fundamental purpose of marketing and advertising? To call the public's attention to your business. Yes, the ultimate goal is to sell your product or service but that does not happen without first grabbing one's attention. Over the last few months, Lavar Ball has done nothing but grab our attention. Telling us his son is better than MVP Steph Curry or that he can beat Michael Jordan 1-on-1. Leading us to begin the chatter about his crazy, all the while bringing relevancy to the Big Baller Brand (BBB). In this social media era, there is nothing more interesting to networks than a memeable, headline-making personality like Lavar. Networks like ESPN, Fox Sports jumped at the opportunity to give him air time, and guess what Lavar's uniform was every time? BBB fitted hats, shirt and probably underwear if he could. Who needs a media buy, when you got this.  

You can understand, hate or don't care in this Trump, "Cash me ousside" world but whether negative or positive, attention has value. Many times more than not that value amounts to currency. Too often we like to glamorize the way we'd wish to grab consumers or just people's attention. We like to get cute, clever or classy but sometimes it helps to just be raw. We're moved by the unexpected and no one expected anyone to speak about the GOAT like that or challenge the sneaker behemoths Nike and Adidas like Lavar. Lavar Ball and his sons have a heck of a job to do to keep our attention, but it's obvious they have it now. 

Let Demand Dictate Delivery

Pundits are balking at the $495 price tag of the ZO2 signature shoe, but he's merely manipulating the market. One, offer your product at a price that creates more conversation - excluding everyone out but the innovators and early adopters (who can make the financial commitment). Two, eliminate the possibility of overhead by making the product available for pre-order six months ahead of release date. BBB will be able to collect revenue from pre-order sales to seed the production of the signature line. Anyone in startup USA would gawk at in envy of how lean of a business model BBB created for themselves. For upstart and aspiring entrepreneurs out there, you don't always to need a product today or tomorrow. You just need to develop scalable demand.

Be Unapologetically You

Lavar Ball is not very different from many black sports fathers I've experienced. Go to a black kid in the neighborhood and tell him to ask his dad about his younger sports days, it's highly likely a hyperbolic "I was better than ___" blah, blah story is about to come. When I think of Lavar Ball, I think of my Uncle Eddie. He had my cousin, brother and I believing he was Allen Iverson before Allen Iverson. Have my Uncle tell it, and pre-injury he was a Big East star point guard who none of us were "better than at that age". With no tape to really prove it, we just believed it. My cousin who eventually became a D-1 athlete told me the majority of his drive for basketball was that he had to be better than the imagined legend his Dad had him believe. Now in his adult years, it wasn't until my cousin got to college that he realized a lot of his dad's talk was just "talk". I guess if it inspired my cousin than maybe it was worth it but more relevant is it's a classic example of many Black basketball dads. Whether Lavar Ball can actually beat Air Jordan or not doesn't matter, ain't nobody better than Dad in his household! LOL...Oh and Dad damn sure ain't backing down from that bravado in front of his kids. Doesn't matter who it is! Lavar is being himself in and outside of the house, and doing just that has been an incredible marketing tool. Brands or businesses often want to capitulate for dollars, but sometimes just saying what you want to say versus what you think people want to hear is the best way to connect and/or grab attention. 

It is rumored that Big Baller Brand sold 5,000 pairs of its signature shoe in 24 hours. I doubt the truth of this, but the opportunity for them to trailblaze should be of interest to us all. We are in a "be owners" movement of culture, and in some cases that is more powerful than a $20 million endorsement deal; even if they never amount those sales. The Ball family has decided to bet on themselves. Whether their "success" story is accomplished or not, I will certainly be back with a part two. Nonetheless, for now, let's continue to take notes from "loud mouth" Lavar Ball and family.