The best marketing plans are a combination of data, customer insight, lessons from the past and educated guesses about the future. But what if, instead of planning, we could enjoy the benefits of a preseason like NFL teams? So I raised the hypothetical with our CEO Mike Caccavale, who like most of the crew in our Boston office, is a big Patriots fan. Here are some of his ideas.
What if you cut dollars by 30% in a particular channel to see if it really makes a difference? What if you could do that without worrying about top line sales for the rest of the year?
Year-long budget goals, while essential to a full view of your marketing success, can severely stifle creativity and risk taking, even in the most daring of marketer. No matter how good you think your idea is, if a small failure could ruin your entire year, you’re not going to try it. But if you had a preseason, you could make that move without having to worry about ruining the rest of your KPI’s.
Mastering the Basics
How about we coordinate all messages without worrying about putting “points on the board”?
Sometimes, in order to perfect a play, you need to focus on the mechanics of it and not on the end result. The preseason lets teams try out techniques multiple times without having to worry if they don’t score every single time.
Try a few creative “Hail Mary” versions in both the digital and offline worlds without worry about the owner of your company worrying that the marketing department had one too many beers
Hail Mary passes are exciting but they are most often a result of desperation. They don’t always work but they are damn spectacular when they do. A preseason would let marketers try out ideas that might have a huge chance for ROI and an equally huge chance of failure.
Beat Up the Veterans
Beat the hell out of a good, trusted 12-year veteran-like promotion. Run it for three months straight without having to worry about the impact on the regular season – or regular customers.
This is something even the Patriots won’t attempt. What would happen if you ran your best campaign again? And again? And again? We’re not going to put Brady in for every snap of the preseason and we’re not going to run the same campaign over and over again for the same reason: fatigue. Neither Mr. Brady nor your best marketing campaign can run forever (though many New England-based marketers may hope otherwise), but we’re much more likely to test #12’s limits than we are to push the performance of a campaign that we rely on.
The preseason offers NFL teams an opportunity for creativity, mechanical practice and a few crazy ideas. There is no time in our year as marketers where we aren’t under the watchful eye and tracking of our KPI’s. But finding the bravery to execute creative ideas, even if they might fail, is critical to the growth of any marketing department. We need to balance opportunities for that creativity while still holding ourselves accountable to goals. A preseason sure would help.