I’ve been struggling with thinking bigger while the world is so crazy, and I’m quite certain I’m not alone. 2020 has brought us a pandemic, an election year, societal unrest, and economic upheaval – and for crying out loud, we’re just midway through. Every day I fight a wait-and-see attitude, and find myself focusing on smaller tactical items that, if I’m being honest, make me feel like I’m moving forward and adding value. That need for control is probably something most of us crave right now.
But there has to be more. Being from the Detroit area, I grew up a Red Wings fan with an appreciation for excellent hockey. Not your “just show up to play” hockey, but the passionate, driving sort of play that fully engages fans in the arena and more importantly, in their hearts. I believe we can apply that same intensity to get through this patch, and not just survive but thrive. These are the correlations I’ve drawn between best practices in marketing and hockey.
- Anticipation: The key to success in hockey, and marketing, is anticipating where the puck will go – not where it is. If you focus on now, you’re too late. Your marketing strategies need to quickly evolve to 1.) meet customers where they are right now and 2.) anticipate where they are going. Your customers’ expectations and motivations are vastly different in 2020, but do your lead generation and content strategies reflect that?
- Focus and Energy: You can either show up to skate or show up to win. Commit daily to The Cup. Block out the distractions and the time needed to focus on your purpose and fuel your thinking by studying the world and your opponents to continue to evolve. Fight to stay positive and stay the course. On the rough days, given our current climate, one or the other of those can be enough.
- Offense and Defense: Now more than ever marketers need to stay true to their brand and serve existing customers like their life depends on it. But defense is not enough. Now is not the time to wait and see what plays out – your attack game is critical. Aggressively seek new ways to connect with and sell to potential customers and remember the offense game is never won by doing what’s expected. If we’re all skating for the obvious puck, we’ll get checked (or lost in the shuffle).
- Team: Hockey and marketing are at their best when the full team is engaged and contributes. In marketing the team starts with the client and extends to agency strategists, managers and creators. In a fast-changing and predominantly virtual environment, everyone needs to work harder to hold up the team.
An Example of Anticipating the Puck:
Many Industrial marketers have been faced with the challenge of replacing in-person events in 2020. Trade Shows, client entertaining, distributor seminars, conferences have all gone by the wayside, and so have the networking and lead-generating opportunities that accompanied them.
Rather than waiting to see how his industry reacted when Covid-19 hit, our client Ed Kammerer (OPW Retail Fueling) worked with our team to quickly replace two different in-person events with virtual events. Our recent webinar with Ed will give more detail on goals, execution and results (you can catch it here: Webinar Recording). The takeaway? By aggressively moving forward and creating a Virtual Trade Show at the start of the pandemic, OPW Retail Fueling realized significantly more leads (10X and growing) at less expense than with a traditional trade show. The Virtual Trade show lives on their website, fulfilling its original lead-generation purpose but also providing a new understanding of the opportunities for training and community that weren’t clear earlier. Moving forward, virtual and in-person trade shows will be strategically combined to maximize lead potential and value to the channel and the customer. What a game-changer! Had OPW Retail Fueling waited to see where the industry was going, they would have missed out on the thousand+ leads their attack team is now driving to the net. Virtually, of course.
Don’t Just Take My Word For It
This success story from OPW Retail Fueling does not stand alone. Since marketing in recessions became a topic of study in the late 1940’s, one thing has held true: businesses that advertise aggressively during recessions are rewarded. Just search “marketing during a recession” and you’ll see support in case studies, articles and research from Harvard Business Review, McGraw-Hill Research, Penton Research Services / Coopers & Lybrand / Business Science International, The Strategic Planning Institute, Meldrum & Fewsmith among others.
Aggressive marketing isn’t directly correlated to spend, but it is correlated to energy. It’s about marketing smarter and not getting deterred from the goal. If revenue is dropping and customers aren’t returning calls don’t assume you can’t do anything about it. Think differently. Anticipate where the puck will go for your business and for your customers and forge ahead.
We still have a lot of 2020 left, so let’s get innovative and fight for it. It’s time to get in the game.