What Football Can Teach Us About Marketing

Marketing Game Plan

Like Football, the key to winning is having an effective “game plan.”

In many ways, football and marketing are very similar. Both require a sound strategy, an effective game plan and good execution to win!

Generally there are two key elements for effective marketing. One, is to have a strategic marketing plan;  the second is to determine which are the best marketing tactics to execute the plan.

Since it’s football season, let’s use a football analogy to help clarify between these two.

Think of the coaches of a football team as being responsible for developing your strategic marketing plan – the  “game plan” on how to win your next game. They will analyze and research their next opponent – compare the strengths and weaknesses of their team versus their opponents; consider the opportunities they can exploit during the game and the threats the other teams pose against them. Many of you may recognize this as a typical S.W.O.T Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).

This analysis and research helps the coaches develop their game plan (your marketing plan). The coaches may decide that on offense they will try to establish a running game that will control the clock and keep the other team’s offense off the field. Or they may discover a weakness in the opponent’s secondary and decide to go with a quick strike offense, throwing the ball deep to score quickly and force their opponent to play from behind.

On defense, they may counter with putting “eight-men-in-the-box” to stop the run, or use a two-deep zone to take away the deep strike.

Similarly, your marketing plan should include your specific marketing strategy and competitive advantage you’re going to exploit in the marketplace versus your competition.

“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” – Vince Lombardi

A football team’s game plan will also include the plays, formations and players to be used in specific situations during the game – will they utilize two running backs and tight ends to establish the power running game, or four wide receivers to stretch the field for a passing attack?

In much the same way, your marketing strategy will determine which marketing tools, tactics and media you will use, when you will use them and how often. Will your strategy rely on TV advertising, or newspapers? Will public relations be your primary marketing tool or is direct marketing more effective? Will the Internet be used to support these other tools, or will it be your main offensive threat?

In marketing, just like in football, where the coaches don’t actually run the plays on the field, you may find that the firm which developed your strategic marketing plan may not be the best choice to handle the actual execution of your game plan.

For example, if your marketing plan calls for a heavy emphasis on public relations and direct marketing, you are probably better off getting two separate firms that specialize in each of these two key disciplines, rather than a generalist who really is just a bench warmer and not a star performer!

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