WHAT SPORTS TEAMS CAN TEACH US ALL ABOUT MARKETING
I am a bit of a car guy, motorsport in particular.
Not sure if you have ever watched a car race but there are some interesting parallels between car racing and marketing. The races are very strategic with lots of moving parts (no pun intended). They are quite technical in terms of getting the car set up right for the track and the conditions and, after all of that, the driver must be both flexible and creative while driving to a plan.
Here are things we can learn from motor racing when marketing your business.
1. It’s not a level playing field
In any motorsport category, there are big teams and little teams. And the money each has to spend on their cars, drivers and crew are all different. But no matter what end of pit lane you are at (at the top level, anyways) what you do notice is just how clean and professional their approach to race day is. From impeccable white garage flaws in an inherently dirty environment, to beautiful uniforms and spotless cars ready to hit the track. The concept is simple – be clean and pristine and you will find it far easier to find and identify issues when they arise and it also promoted a disciplined and process driven approach. The quality of the competition is rarely an issue, these teams work tirelessly to put themselves in the best position possible on the track. Because they know that even their biggest competitors can have a bad day and when that happens they are there to capitalise. Ultimately, being in the race is half the challenge what great teams do is look for the areas where their competitors fail to make speed and focus their energy on that niche opportunity. And they work hard, relentlessly trying to perfect their approach to get an advantage. Our approach to marketing should be the same.
2. Strategy is important
You can be the fastest driver on the track but ultimate you must manage tyres and fuel and this is where strategy is so important. The best teams are not only fast because of their drivers, they are fast because they are clear in the processes they use to achieve their speed. Marketing requires the exact same approach – create a strategy that is clear and build your processes around executing the strategy. Identify the opportunities for your business and develop your game plan around exploiting them.
3. Plan for the season not for the race.
Marketing is a slow process at times. So how is it possible to compare it to something a fast as a race. If you think about any sport, motorsport included, it is a season of games or races. In many ways, your marketing is exactly the same, although, we tend to call them campaigns. If you look at great race teams, they treat every race as an opportunity to test their strategy and test their equipment – You should be looking to do the same with your messaging and approach. But like the race team, at the end of the race no matter where you came (or how the campaign performed) look at all the data and understand what happened, and then trial, amend and innovate for the next round. We see so many small to medium businesses who expect results instantaneously which is understandable because it can be hard to invest money and not see an instant result. But the truth is each race has to be taken on its merits and in the knowledge, that it is a long season. So invest in a strategy and a plan over a 12-18 month period and learn and grow with each campaign.
4. Pick the best team you can afford
Winning is clearly the aim of any race but as was mentioned before there will be plenty of competitors out there with more money to spend on their marketing. This doesn’t put you out of the race – Remember if you are the driver you will never win if you have to jump out of the car at the pit stop and change the tyres and fill the fuel yourself. YOU NEED A TEAM. So, buy the best one you can afford and build a plan. Get to know one another and build trust. Let them make some mistakes and learn together. Neither the driver nor the team can be solely responsible for performance on the day – so work together.
5. Pick your moment
Ok, so you have put in all this hard work and you have toiled with messaging, channel plans, social marketing and advertising placements… It’s all going to happen, right? No, it might not actually. You still have to turn up and perform on race day. I recently turned down a client who was prepared to invest in the marketing required to grow her business but it was clear to me that they didn’t actually have the resources, processes in place to deliver the marketing work. At the end of the day, what you say and the effort you put into telling your customers what you’ll do for them must be backed up with the ability to actually do it. And when you do – just like on race day this is where your team has to really spot the opportunity – because any race driver will tell you that despite all the work the ability to overtake and even win a race comes down to but a few opportunities per race. You need to be on the look out for the moment to make your move, be it capitalising on your competitions misfortune and reaching out to their customers or innovating your products or messaging to propel you past them during a key sales period. Just like the race you must stay alert and be ready for that opportunity – and that means working together as a partnership. Your marketing can’t simply be treated as semi automatic function.