We started a team meeting like so many others do around the country: by talking about sports. Our business focuses on omnichannel offer optimization, so perhaps we were inherently biased, and maybe I am stretching this a bit, but I swear in each point of our Monday morning quarterback session, there was a marketing lesson/reminder wanting its ways to the surface. So, while there is no shortage of business-to-sports analogies out there, I have come to find nuggets of marketing insight can be found in much of the seemingly unconnected conversations that happen in the office. Let me elaborate.
“How can you stop (insert your favorite quarterback), he can read every defense you throw at him? Better yet, how can you be that good?” He walks up to the line with a plan in mind. (He knows his channel strategy, messaging segmentation, offer matrix.) His team is committed to a position (the assets are created, ready to be deployed) and he can only move a few players around (offers), before the clock (season/retail window) expires and without being penalized (out of touch, poorly accepted). Yet he sees there is a blitz coming (competitors are slashing prices aggressively and have launched a new campaign that will impact the imminent campaign), so he calls an audible and completes the pass. Here is where it gets tricky for marketers. Some plan campaigns, create assets, make advertising commitments and then, because they aren’t prepared for the new real-time information economy, fail to hit the mark.
But how, you ask? Just like your quarterback you have done your research (you know the various, mostly predictable market contingencies and have creative assets and a channel strategy prepared for getting the message out in each instance). And just as he surveys the line and gathers clues to what’s next, your strategy has fresh data guiding the decision making process (your cheat sheet on the arm). Note: this also requires a playbook (offer database) and help from upstairs (a decision engine that can process the data and dynamically match offers to instances).
Can’t do that yet? Maybe your brand isn’t big enough (blame the league), or you haven’t developed the right technology stack (blame the franchise) to provide optimized offers at every touch point. Then, do what so many other quarterbacks do, call an audible in the places you can (social, email and digital advertising) and work your way towards championship status.
Now, the audible scenario is just one of many that marketers and organizations can learn from, let’s look to a team like the New England Patriots. They are winning despite adversity, overcoming distractions and bringing along rookies because of good leadership. AKA, they are doing what all businesses must do to win.
They are playing the full 60 minutes to pull out victories in the end (not panicked after a bad month or quarter), and they are using those distractions and adversity to build the confidence of players and esteem of the brand. Notice the Hernandez murder debacle. While surely souring the team’s spirit for a stretch of time, the organization didn’t just issue a statement; they offered to switch out Hernandez’s jerseys for another. A simple idea, but one that instantly leapt past the dark cloud that threatened to drag them along an entire season. That move alone stoked loyalty, inserted distance between the brand and one of its prominent “products” that went awry and helped somehow increase brand equity for the organization.
This Monday when you and your team roll in for a seemingly unproductive banter about sports, or even what you did this weekend before “getting down to business,” take a second to step back. My guess is you’ll hear a marketing lesson pop up one way or another.