5 Marketing Lessons Inspired by an Olympic Gold Medal Runner

Marketing is often said to be a marathon, not a sprint. But in honor of Lord Sebastian Coe’s keynote address at Modern Marketing Experience Europe 2015, I would like to split the difference between those two distances.

Lord Coe won four Olympic running medals and broke a dozen world records in middle-distance track events—including three in the space of 41 days. He became the only athlete to take gold at 1500 metres in two successive Olympic Games.

1. Planning and Preparation are Keys to Victory

Whether you are creating a short campaign, or even one that goes out into the middle distance, be prepared. Take advantage of the expertise of other members of your team to make sure you have all the information needed before starting. Pilot or test campaigns can limber up your marketing skills and make sure you know what challenges you will face.

2. Expect to Win at the Start

No world-class runner starts a race expecting to finish in second place. First is the goal. When you step into the starting blocks of your campaign, have very clear goals in mind. The gold medal equivalents of marketing goals for a successful campaign are SMART goals (Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Relevant-Time-bound). Understanding what you wish to achieve is necessary to achieve it.

3. Run Your Race

Marketers are easily distracted by the daily crisis, but runners know how to focus on what they need to do. Don’t worry about competitors. Don’t worry about your preparation. Once the campaign or activity is launched, continue on to reach your goals. Runners know to run the race that they prepared for. That doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments along the way, but they need to be strategic rather than reactionary.

4. Continue Through the Finish

Every runner is told not to slow done when the finish line is in sight, but to continue and run through the finish. The same is true for marketers. When the end is in sight and you have nearly reached your goals, that is not the time to lay back and coast. Everything needs to continue on pace until the end.

5. Examine Your Performance

Runners review their performance after every race, so they know how to improve next time. Well, unless you win a gold medal or set a world record. If your marketing is meeting your goals every time and winning awards, you are probably doing something right. But it also means you should increase your goals and strive for more. Even those at the top of their field can improve, and need to improve, because those chasing you get closer and closer every day.

This post originally appeared on the Modern Marketing Blog.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen