Digital strategy

5 Things Your Digital Program Can Learn From Ted Lasso

“Be a goldfish.” 


“Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

Not only has “Ted Lasso” become one of the most quotable and heartwarming pieces of pop culture in recent memory (and the winner of a whole host of Emmys!), there are also a lot of lessons about life and leadership – as well as the art of biscuit-making – to take away from the hugely popular Apple TV+ show. 

Those lessons extend to your digital program, too: from creating inroads with your audience to not being discouraged by testing that fails to move the needle. In between binging new episodes and scrolling Bantr, check out some ways to impart a little bit of Lasso into your organization’s work online.

1. Invest in relationships. From little things like remembering the names of club support staff to more grand gestures (elevating kit-man Nathan to assistant coach), Ted cares a lot about relationships. He also realizes it’s not all that hard to nurture them on a daily basis: It involves showing up, taking an interest, and always making people feel valued.

Similarly, your digital messaging shouldn’t just be an endless stream of asking supporters for donations. Turn the lens back on your audience every now and then: Utilize tools like priorities surveys to learn about what really matters to your supporters and why they connect with your mission. Develop opportunities for them to share their own stories. It’s critical to provide a wide array of content that doesn’t just speak at them, but invites them to be part of what you’re building. By the time match day rolls around, your own personal Nelson Road Stadium will be teeming with supporters ready to cheer on your incredible work.

2. Give everyone what they need. One-size-fits-all coaching fails to recognize the fundamental differences between players like Jamie Tartt, Sam Obisanya, and Roy Kent – and doesn’t capitalize on their unique strengths. That’s not to say every audience member should be receiving a different email (quite the opposite!), but leaning on segmentation and personalization strategies to build distinct groups of supporters helps ensure each touchpoint gets as close to a one-on-one interaction as possible.

This is especially critical when it comes to high-value audiences like mid-level or sustainers, who’ve indicated a much deeper relationship than the general supporter base and should be receiving content that references their generosity. Regardless of how you slice-and-dice your audience, paying attention to the signals they’re sending is paramount. Sometimes the best way to learn is to listen.

3. Victory is only possible with teamwork. Despite what he thinks, the supernova talent Jamie can’t win games without a little help. Every player on the pitch needs to be hitting their spots, anticipating the next pass, and coming together as a team to move the ball.

Strong relationships between online and offline teams are critical when it comes to building a program that feels like one cohesive messaging stream. Whether someone’s opening a piece of direct mail, catching a DRTV ad, seeing your ad on Facebook, or reading an email, all pieces of your organization should be working in concert to tell a singular story. That means breaking down silos, bringing partners together, and ensuring everyone is on the same page about upcoming campaigns and initiatives.

4. Failure breeds success. Not every play Ted and his coaching staff draw up is a winner; sometimes they actually result in heartbreaking outcomes! But, as he reminds us, “panic” is one of the two worst buttons to press. (The other? “Snooze.”) The only way programs can get better is by learning what does and what doesn’t work – and sometimes, it’s more important to focus your energy on the latter. That means testing is critical as you learn what your audience responds to best. Done correctly, small gains through testing can add up to big increases across all your key goals. 

5. Take it one game at a time. It’s a pretty well-worn sports cliche at this point, but dynasties weren’t built in a day. Long-term successes start with small victories: one standout campaign, crushing a year-over-year metric, a successful EOY season. These individual accomplishments have the power to snowball over time, building momentum and driving success that can compound for years on end. So while long-term goals are important, never lose sight of the day-by-day work needed to get there.