What If Marketing Were An Olympic Sport?

Feb 20 2014, 3:41pm CST | by

What If Marketing Were An Olympic Sport?
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Meryl Davis and Charlie White got me thinking about some of the parallels between competitive sports and marketing.

You remember their 4 ½ minute performance in the ice dancing finale? It was mesmerizing, wasn’t it? And under such pressure!

They were the last pair on the ice and their Canadian rivals had been fabulous. Meryl and Charlie had to be even better. They’d chosen Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherezade” as their music and that was a good idea because it got the Russian crowd at least not unsympathetic.

That’s when it occurred to me that in so many ways, the two ice dancers were great marketers. Consider:

  • Marketing takes a lot of trial-and-error testing to learn what works and what doesn’t both for the marketer and for the target audience. I’m pretty sure that Meryl and Charlie tried all kinds of different programs, fell many times but got right back up and continued to work toward excellence. Great marketers do that all their lives.
  • Marketers need outside help, suppliers and consultants to make programs extraordinary. Davis and White had a great coach (the same woman who coached the Canadians!) but they also thought outside the rink and asked Derek Hough, choreographer for Dancing With The Stars, for advice on unique dance steps.
  • These gold-medalists were not an overnight success. They’ve been together since they were about 10 years old and now they’re 27. They stayed committed, worked their way up slowly and became masters at what they do.
  • Marketers stay committed over time, too. They learn from every success and learn perhaps even more from every failure.  There are very few legal get-rich-quick ideas and most people who try crash and burn. Steady improvement over time will get you there as long as you keep testing, learning and becoming better and better.
  • Sacrifices along the way? I can only guess at the Davis and White financial challenges before the US Olympic Committee began to help. Their Moms, sitting together in the stands, looked like very nice women but not like overly wealthy matrons. And the time and the commitment must have seemed extreme at times.

Sounds a lot like my life in marketing. Budgeting, racing off to give a speech followed by a major presentation to a new client the next day, reviewing results, growing winners and dropping losers.

  • More than anything, though, after Davis and White had put themselves in position with exhaustive preparation, they put themselves over the top by … being unique. Not just better but differently better, memorably better.

Their program didn’t resemble any of the others. They were not ordinary in any way.

Oh, how I wish we could all be like that with products or services that stand out. Or a brand that stands out. Consider just one example from the last Super Bowl: Budweiser’s Puppy Love commercial stood out because it was beautifully done and it could have come only from Budweiser thanks to the Clydesdale. It takes time and commitment to develop that kind of simple and unique brand power.

  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White radiated confidence on the ice. They looked and acted like they were winners, like they’d done everything they needed to win and they expected to win. That feeling is half the game in the Olympics and in what you do.

And if you run your business as well as Meryl Davis and Charlie White run theirs, you deserve a Gold medal. And a standing ovation. If you were here, I’d even play the National Anthem.

Source: Forbes Business


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