As a huge soccer fan, who follows several leagues religiously, I’ve been tempted to write about similarities between soccer and marketing for a while. Since the much anticipated Euro 2012 is now in full swing, I figured that now is as good a time as any, so let’s go for it.
The coach is responsible for determining the style of soccer that a team plays throughout the season (or throughout a tournament). But that doesn’t mean that the strategy is the same for every game. In fact, even during a particular game, it’s crucial to adapt to its flow and to new situations quickly. You may have gone into the game with guns blazing, but then you had to concede an unexpected goal, and that completely changes the way you need to move forward. Agile marketing is just like that. Of course, you want to set your goals and your objectives and develop your marketing strategy with those goals in mind. But what’s crucial is that you’re agile enough to stay on top of emerging trends and channels, and that you constantly strive to optimize your approach.
Sometimes, you just have to take a shot.
Many game-changing goals in soccer have been scored out of seemingly impossible situations. Sometimes, it’s worth taking a shot, knowing that you may not score. In marketing, opportunities may arise that don’t necessarily look like a slam-dunk. You may think about an unusual blog post topic, going out of your way to respond to a customer’s or prospect’s question, or consider an unorthodox way to promote your product or brand. Feel empowered to take a calculated risk.
Team comes first.
In soccer, it’s not just about who scores the most goals, but more importantly, it’s about the contribution that each team member makes. Sure, Lionel Messi is known for being an exceptional goal scorer, but he’s also an unbelievable team player who will always pass the ball to a team mate who is in a better position to score. Inbound marketers realize that nothing is achieved in isolation. Instead, you identify every team member’s strength and leverage them as much as possible. In addition, successful marketers always give credit where credit is due.
It’s about how much you care.
One of my most favorite things as a soccer fan is seeing teams succeed who don’t just go out and spend a ton of money on superstars, but who develop their youth teams, nurture them, and really foster a passion for the game. FC Barcelona and German champion Borussia Dortmund are prime examples of teams who are fueled by how much each player cares for the sport and for their teams. With regard to marketing, sure, you can “buy” success to a certain extent if you invest heavily in Pay Per Click ads, in ginormous trade-show booths or in a large marketing team. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance if your budget is small and your marketing team scrappy. After all, you will reap the benefits of out-caring your competition.
When you have a losing streak, work yourself out of it.
In soccer, when you have a losing streak, even the simplest of shots tend to miss the goal. You always seem to be a split second or a step and a half away from scoring. To top it off, you end up deflecting the ball into your own goal. There’s only one thing that a team can do to break a losing streak: work themselves out of it. Put in more miles than the other team. Fight for every ball. Similarly, inbound marketing requires serious commitment. Don’t expect an overnight success. Only if you make a commitment to providing fresh, quality content and by listening to and interacting with your target audience can you develop a sustainable strategy. If your marketing campaigns are in a rut, try changing things up, interacting with individuals that can help you out, and don’t give up. And, of course, measure as much as you can and identify what works best, so that you can optimize your campaigns.
Don’t underestimate the power of your fans.
In Europe, some of the hard core fans wear team jerseys with the #12 on the back, indicating that they’re basically the twelfth man on the field. In marketing, your fans and supporters are essential and can catapult your brand to new levels of recognition. Therefore, engage them, thank them, interact with them, and provide incentives for them to continue to support you.
What’s your favorite sport, and how is it similar to or different from marketing?