In an Olympic year, the decathlon provides a fair analogy to marketers aiming to assess their peak performance and top events.
What makes the decathlon remarkable is not only the specific ten events themselves, but rather how closely all the events are pursued to one another. It’s a constant test of strength, stamina, focus and mental power. Sounds like marketing.
The records held for the individual ten events are slightly under the overall world records for those same events when competed individually. For a decathlete, there is no time to prepare, rest, or recover. Indeed, now for certain, it sounds like marketing.
Overall winners are determined by the combined overall performance across all ten events. You can’t win if you’re a one-trick pony. Marketing is the same – there is no one unifying theory or playing field – it requires peak performance across all events competed in the stadium of the marketplace.
Consider the ten track and field events and their parallels to marketing performance. To win today, a marketer needs to perform strongly across all ten events.
The 100 metres: Big Data
Featuring power and speed, the 100 metre dash is the equivalent to the marketing decathlete’s Big Data strategy; fast-moving, happening in realtime, and creating immediate results.
Long jump: Strategic Planning
With an emphasis on distance and momentum, strategic planning is this event’s proxy. Soaring beyond the jump-off point of today, it sets a longer view and a decisive trajectory.
Shot put: Objective Setting
The transference of potential energy into kinetic energy is powerfully seen in the shot-put, and in the setting of solid marketing objectives – the “put” – identifying and placing effort against single-minded goals.
High jump: Customer Community
The decathlete demonstrates fluidity and flexibility as they clear a raised bar; the marketing decathlete must do the same when creating customer communities through social media – following the flow of customer dialogue and engagement, without dominating or controlling.
400 metres: ROI
The mix of stamina and speed required to perform in the 400 metre race is what is required to measure and act on ROI results – achieving the right balance between depth of analysis and ability to respond and act.
110 metres hurdles: Promotions and tactics
The fast-paced tempo of hurdling mirrors the role of promotions and tactics; the clearing of temporary obstacles to go beyond the baseline, at a pace that meets a business’ demands using bursts of staccato energy.
Discus throw: Product launches
The winding up and launching of a disc approximates the dynamics of new product introductions; today’s marketing decathlete must coil sufficient energy behind the launch of a new product in order for it to soar the furthest into the field.
Pole vault: Innovation and R&D
What better event to represent R&D but the pole vault; the achieving of heightened goals and the catapulting effect of releasing unsprung energy to achieve them. Without perfecting it, a marketing decathlete remains grounded.
Javelin throw: CRM
The powerful precision of the javelin; it is aimed and thrown with great efficiency to land with authority. A marketing decathlete should waste no energy in identifying, targeting and reaching unique customer needs with javelin-like accuracy.
1500 metres: Branding and Communications
The event requiring the steadiest levels of endurance and commitment is the best analogy for brand building and communications. It’s the longest event, and it’s an event requiring strategy and a constant level of measured energy in order to get ahead, stay ahead, and surpass the rest of the pack.
Does your marketing decathlon comprise these ten “events”? Winning in marketing demands performance across all of them, and the best of the best who set the pace become heralded as the greatest athletes in the world. That’s worthy recognition for attaining marketing gold.