Opinions

What You Can Learn From Your Crappy Football Team

Posted by Jeff Rosenblum on January 30th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

If you are like 94% of football fans right now, your team is crap. I'm sure you didn't invest every Sunday watching your team play for over 16 weeks just to watch somebody else's team play in the Super Bowl. But there's something to be learned from your disappointment. And it's an adage that applies both to football and to marketing: Championships are not won by the team with the most stars.

Both teams playing in the Super Bowl have the same number of stars as any other team. Perhaps even less. Where the two contenders truly stand out is that neither team has a glaring weakness. They don't have any players that can't perform at a superior level. They don't have holes in the roster.

Now, compare those two teams to the thirty teams watching from home to see what you can learn about your marketing team. The teams that didn't make it all the way have weaknesses that were exploited by the competition. My team is the Jets (keep your snide remarks to yourself). Our weak link was Eric Smith. Eric plays safety, which is a relatively obscure position to the casual fan, just like many marketing positions are obscure to clients. He is an absolute gamer, but he is relatively small. When he plays against smart teams, they send tall receivers against him and he fails. If Eric was better, the Jets would have made the playoffs. But, in reality, the Jets were crap.

Now let's equate these football strengths and weaknesses to a marketing team. Sure, it's great to have the super cool creative folks and the charming account guy. That's like having the amazing quarterback and wide receiver who make the big plays. But, two super stars alone aren't enough to win in professional football, nor in marketing.

Our business has changed dramatically. Agencies can no longer count on a snazzy piece of creative or front-row client seats to the ballgame as the path to success. Technology, research, project management, analytics and media are all paramount. Great marketing touches consumers in every way as they go through a journey and build momentum that ultimately leads to a sale. That means brands are connected to consumers online, on mobile, in stores, in cars, on the street, on the phone and countless other places. Every single one of those touch points are critical. Great advertising can't overcome a breakdown in the consumer/brand relationship, just like a great quarterback can't overcome a glaring weakness at safety. Because every touch point is critical, every member of a marketing team is absolutely critical. One single weak player can lead to disastrous results. Just like on a football team.

It's easy to think that marketing is all about the latest shiny object, be it social, tablets, or online video. But the real key to success is people and a strong lineup from top to bottom. You want a roster with no weaknesses. You don't just need superstars. Sure, super star players are sexy, but it's better to have a super star team. One built by better recruiting, better on-boarding, better training, better communication and a relentless commitment to better culture. You might be tempted to make some flashy off-season acquisitions, but it's the day-to-day commitment from the entire team that leads to a championship.

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