Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marketing In Tough Times - The Relentless Pursuit Of Positive Outcomes

Because Business In Tough Times Is An Extreme Competition Where The Clock Is Against You

By David Miranda

Team sports is the most ubiquitous metaphor used in business to illustrate the similarities between a successful enterprise and a winning team. Examples abound such as "There's no 'I' in team" ; "We need to play our 'A' game"; and "Business is a contact sport". Even quotes from sports legends make their way into the boardrooms of corporate America such as the famous saying attributed to legendary Coach Vince Lombardi "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing".

Okay, we get it already. Business and team sports do have a lot in common, but sometimes we can take the team sports thing a little too far and forget the critical difference.

Let's consider that critical difference.

Unlike team sports, in business there are no time outs, no half times, no off season, no spring training. Business is a relentless 24/7 high stakes competition. If things are not going your way, you can't call a time-out to get your bearings. The competition goes on relentlessly and it's not just you versus another competitor - it's you against a world of competitors, all the time. The "season" is 24x7x365. Hard to imagine any team sport as gruelling.

Marketers, therefore, must understand that marketing, particularly in tough times, is a verb - an action verb. Successful marketing must embrace a culture of the relentless pursuit of positive outcomes. Gone are the days when a business had the luxury of spending months to develop a marketing plan with its strategic direction and tactical elements to be executed over the next fiscal year.

Today, marketers must employ a "stratactical approach" - a concept that conceives and executes the enterprise's strategy and tactics in tandem. Using a football sports analogy, this is like allowing the quarterback to call an audible - to change the originally called play at the line of scrimmage in order to exploit a defensive vulnerability or counter a defensive threat.

The ability to exploit opportunities and counter competitive threats as soon as they occur requires a new marketing perspective - one that is more agile, more athletic, more manueverable and less bureaucratic, less cumbersome, and less traditional in form and function. Old school marketers will find this approach uncomfortable and, maybe unnerving at times, but it's a brand new "game".

There is no "I" in team, but there is an "us" and "I" in business.

It takes bold leadership and strong teamwork to achieve positive outcomes in a relentlessly challenging world.

Game on!