When we started Nifty four years ago, we had a radical idea… in fact we had two.
Second, offering the Niftyverse for free – or at least with only small up-front costs – based on a commission or joint-venture model where we would reap the rewards of our work together with our clients.
Sounds simple, right? Well, no. In 2018, people didn’t really get it… at least not everyone. Most people understood that with content we could provide access – something all fans desire – and with access we could build fanaticism, which ultimately increases revenue. What was harder to explain was the role digital played in that.
Back then, only four years ago, the commercial element of sport was still pretty old-school and centred around the traditional shirt-sponsorship style of commercials we all know so well. Branding boards, exclusive partnerships, sponsoring corner kicks, these were still the main focus of the day and we struggled to get sports organisations to understand that digital offered so much more than just reach and engagement.
It wasn’t that people didn’t think digital was integral to their plan, or even that it was the future of brand development for many organisations, it was simply that we couldn’t get people to see digital and its potential in the way we saw it here at Nifty. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case outside of sport and Nifty was soon growing through our service delivery with forward-thinking industry leaders in the B2B, D2C and B2B2C spheres and it wasn’t long before we boasted more non-sports clients than sports clubs in our portfolio.
Fast forward four years and things couldn’t be more different. The pandemic kick-started a new wave of digital innovation and awareness. This realisation was combined with hugely-damaging falls in revenue for sports clubs across the world. It wasn’t so much that digital could be ignored anymore but that there was no choice but to embrace it.
As rights holders struggled to combat their drastic drops in income, they turned to digital and the endless potential it offers. NFTs may have led the debate around digital and its endless opportunities with a focus on Web 3.0, resulting in 16x the amount of searches for the term ‘NFTs’ than ‘Blockchain’ in the past 12 months. This is great but organisations were waking up to the opportunities that lay immediately before them in 20/21 as well. From subscription models to social pay walls, no stone has been left unturned in the quest to fill the void in revenue created by Covid.
I’ll be honest, here at Nifty we still boast more clients outside of sport than in but our portfolio in the realms of rights holders has grown exponentially in the last 24 months. The rate card still exists in certain elements of our portfolio, and it’s not likely to go away any time soon as some of our work just doesn’t fit a joint-venture approach (and nor do our clients want it to) but in the sports space it’s different.
We always say content is king, and that’s as true today as it’s ever been, but the objectives of that content are key. Today there’s less organisations sharing content for content’s sake, with the aim of generating vanity-focused likes and engagement, and more people working back from the objectives.
What does the content need to achieve? Where is the club or rights holder going? What do they want to achieve? How can their fans help achieve those goals? Today, these questions are asked, and answered, before content strategies are built. By working backwards from these all-important aims, we help our clients understand their own roadmap and the role digital will play in it.
It’s taken four years, a pandemic and the usual turbulence many start-ups experience but Nifty’s stronger than ever and ready to conquer the world. It’s still our aim to become the UK’s leading marketing agency by 2025 and with an innovative team, strong community mindset and new members joining each month, that milestone is getting closer by the day.
So, as we celebrate our fourth birthday today, I look back on the past 48 months with great pride and ahead to the next three years with huge excitement. Take note because this is the age of digital.
It’s time to be Nifty.