As a college basketball aficionado, it occurs to me that the lessons of basketball — or any competitive sport, really — have much to teach us as content marketers.
Since we’re in the trenches of March Madness, now’s the time to get comfy on the couch and settle back for a game or two. Consider it bonafide research to sharpen your content marketing skills when you keep these common-sense lessons in mind:
Practice, practice, practice. What equates to practice in the marketing world? Testing. Are you doing all you can to make your next piece of content or campaign a success — testing headlines, subject lines and offers, even the color or placement of the “Learn More” button on your landing page to see what resonates best with your audience? Top coaches and players are constantly adjusting their game plan to maximize their team’s shot at the big dance.
Rely on the fundamentals. Sure, you’re taking the offensive lead by integrating the latest tools, technology and thinking into your marketing stack. But at the same time, be sure you’re guarding your hard-earned market share by nailing defensive basics — supporting players like responsive service, attention to detail and a stellar customer experience.
Be prepared to sweat a little. Whoever said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” clearly wasn’t a baller — or a marketer. We know it’s the so-called small stuff that can make or break your campaign, your sales, and ultimately your brand. Small to you (annoying site navigation, an unreturned message) can be huge to a customer. Your job is to make sure the details are covered every step of the way.
Double-teaming always leaves somebody open. When you’re most often losing to the same opponent, it’s human nature to concentrate on countering their specific activities. But don’t get so caught up in the rivalry that you leave the rest of the court wide open. Be prepared to defend against other competitors who may be creeping up the sidelines to steal your glory.
Dramatic three pointers get the crowd revved up, but high-percentage lay-ups put more points on the board. Sure, you want to pump up your prospects with content that boosts the “wow” factor and gets people excited. Just be sure to balance riskier approaches with tried-and-true tactics. When mapping out your strategy, give sixth men like nurturing campaigns or newsletters the playing time they need to lay the foundation for brand recognition and lead generation.
Use your teammates — all of them — to best advantage. A great point guard instinctively knows where his teammates are on the court at all times during the game. In addition to your employees, are you capitalizing on the skills your vendors bring to the floor? For example, a seasoned printer can often lead you to big postage savings with small tweaks — the size of your mailing piece, cleaning up your data, or using consolidation to improve delivery. Similarly, your IT pro might also be an expert in marketing automation technologies to make your process more effective.
Just as true victory is more than the score of a single game, marketing is much more than the success or failure of a single effort. By taking a team approach to planning and executing your marketing strategy, you’ll be well on the way to a winning run. As soon as you put down your bracket and get off the couch, that is.