At ConvergeDirect, we’re all missing the World Cup excitement. The tournament brought a competitive and exhilarating sensation not only to our office but to the entire country. Although we loved watching the best players in the world kick, run, and tumble their way to victory, we found that there’s much more to the sport than just playing football (soccer, if you’ve yet to embrace the international sport’s title). Marketers can learn and take away important lessons from the sport, two of which CMS Wire did an exceptional job of analyzing. Marketers must be “agile enough to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with users and our brands, convert new customers, and engage with users on social media.” Agility in soccer players is crucial; capturing or missing the right opportunity can make or break a game.
Lesson 1: It’s okay to bend the rules, but don’t bite!
Luis Suarez’ aggressive move toward Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini certainly just a few FIFA and social behavior rules. Marketers quickly jumped on the easy opportunity and spewed out clever responses to the jaw-dropping event. Trident wrote one of our favorites:
Chew Trident. Not soccer players. #ITAvsURU
— Trident Gum (@tridentgum) June 24, 2014
Although the World Cup has little to do with Trident gum, the company “[bent] their own branding rules to get in on the action.” According to SEO Best Practices, it’s necessary to engage with users on topics that are trending on social media, but it’s even more important to tie all trending topics to your brand. Attempting to cash in on trends that have nothing to do with your area of expertise can cause Google to dole out penalties, which are inconveniences that no one wants. By clearly connecting their product to current events, Trident experienced success with its marketing strategy.
Lesson 2: Don’t get a yellow card. Stay in the game.
As CMS Wire explains, a player receives a yellow card “because he went too far” and “a second yellow card boots him from the game.” The team cannot replace this player and often suffers because of it. Marketers work best when the whole team is involved, as more creative thoughts are shared and business is done more efficiently. If a marketing team is working on a blog and one member continuously ignores the best practices by Google (i.e. incorrect anchor text, non-optimized Title and Meta tags) they can penalize the website, which affects the entire company. The entire team needs to be on the same page and playing by the same rules.
Lesson 3: A coach can only do so much; trust in your players is key.
In sports like baseball or basketball, coaches have many opportunities to give their players pep talks and guide them through the game. A first-base coach in baseball encourages his batter to run faster, tells him whether to stay on first or continue to second, and reminds him of the game statistics. Unlike baseball, a soccer coach’s voice is one of a million other voices screaming at the players. At a certain point, a coach must leave the game to his players and trust that what he has taught them will work. In marketing, a leader has to trust his or her team members. After giving responsibilities to coworkers, we have to trust that the work will get done in a timely, high-quality manner. Managers and coaches are often controlling but in order to build healthy relationships with our players, we must trust that they know what to do and how to do it. By doing this, the entire team feels respected, valued, and that their working style is accepted. Remember; soccer isn’t baseball.
Lesson 4: A game is a 90 minutes long; use every minute to your advantage.
Soccer games are enduring for both players and fans. In the span of 90 minutes, no one could score, a single goal could be scored, or multiple goals could be scored. Games can be tedious and boring until the last 3 minutes when the home team scores a miraculous bicycle-kick goal. Digital marketing is similar in this regard; things can be slow moving until a sudden change in the situation. Patience is a necessary virtue in marketing; we often cannot control how immediately our clients implement our solutions. But with patience comes success; offering new solutions and searching for new ways to score marketing goals is the best way to spend the long game.
Lesson 5: Mix new ideas in with classics.
As marketers, we all have an arsenal of solutions that have worked in the past and that we rely on. With experience comes knowledge of what works and what does not. Similarly, soccer coaches have veteran players who they know will play well; however, like the USA did with rookie John Brooks, sometimes it’s worth the risk to try new techniques and players. The only way that we can advance past our competitors is by testing new ideas.
So while you’re sitting at your desk and missing the World Cup excitement, reflect on what you learned from the quadrennial soccer competition other than how to fall dramatically.