12 Things Marketers Can Learn From Olympians

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It’s time for the summer Olympics. Here are twelve characteristics of successful athletes and what marketers can learn from them to produce gold-medal results.

1. Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. Olympians aren’t victorious every single time they perform, but they always strive to achieve victory.

Takeaway for marketers: Every campaign isn’t a winner, but you can always gain knowledge from failures. Don’t scrap your losing efforts and never look back. Instead, analyze them to figure out what didn’t work. Applying this knowledge to future marketing campaigns will make it more likely they’ll be winners.

2. Olympians embrace challenges in order to grow. They understand that facing adversity is a necessary part of becoming a stronger and more successful athlete.

Takeaway for marketers: The best creative emerges out of challenges. Allow stakeholders, prospects and consumers to provide input into marketing efforts. Diverse opinions will help shape them into something that will resonate with a broader audience.

3. Olympic athletes are disciplined and monitor progress. They expect — and demand from themselves — measurable results for their efforts. If they’re doing something that doesn’t improve performance, they stop doing it and replace it with something else.

Takeaway for marketers: It’s critical to set goals for every aspect of a marketing campaign and track results toward them. If your tactics aren’t working, change them. It’s the only way a campaign will succeed at gold-medal levels.

4. Olympic athletes learn new things all the time. They spend hours practicing, studying their competitors, watching videos of their performances and constantly researching ways to improve their diets, uniforms and equipment.

Takeaway for marketers: Marketing is a competitive field. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest strategies so you can find creative ways to apply them to your campaigns. Also, watch your competitors so you’re aware of how they’re marketing their products and services. It’s the only way you know you’re staying competitive and beating them at their game.

5. Olympians understand that “very good” is isn’t good enough. In other words, great athletes never settle.

Takeaway for marketers: Many marketers get complacent when they achieve their goals. Why not set loftier ones once you reach your targets? It’s always possible to sell more, generate additional leads or achieve higher engagement rates.

6. Olympic athletes never stop. At times when most people feel tired or burned-out, Olympians find the inner resolve to keep going and achieve new break-throughs.

Takeaway for marketers: Marketing isn’t a 9 to 5 job, especially in today’s digital world. Make it a point to monitor campaign performance during off hours. It will allow you to optimize your marketing sooner and avoid having something negative (bad comments, website issues, system breakdowns) continue for too long.

7. Athletes depend on their coaches. Most people are okay with some coaching. However, for the vast majority, ego eventually gets in the way and they stop listening to feedback. Winners never stop paying attention to what their coaches have to say.

Takeaway for marketers: Constantly ask for feedback on your marketing efforts and make it a point to listen to and act on it. Leverage focus group input, online surveys, user reviews and social comments to improve your product and service offerings and make your marketing better.

8. Olympians keep emotions in check. They’re able to set aside feelings and focus on performance.

Takeaway for marketers: Marketing is an emotion-free zone. You may love a piece of copy, photo, tagline or other campaign element, but if it’s not performing well, you have to set feelings aside and change it.

9. Olympians think big. Nothing but gold is ever good enough.

Takeaway for marketers: Even when you have a successful campaign, you owe it to yourself to work with others to brainstorm ideas on how you can top it. You never know where the extra effort could take your campaign. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box.

10. Olympians love playing the game. They’re passionate about the sport, not just the win.

Takeaway for marketers: If you’re a marketer, you must love marketing. If you’re only going through the motions, it will show in your campaigns. If you don’t feel passion for the field, find work in another one.

11. Winners know there is no “I” in “team”. Even athletes that perform solo are backed-up by coaches, trainers, dietitians and more. It takes a village to become a gold-medal athlete.

Takeaway for marketers: Almost more than any other field, it takes a lot of specialized support to create a marketing campaign. Ensure that all team members are heard and their expertise is fully incorporated into every element of the campaign.

12. Olympians keep it positive. Negative energy doesn’t win gold medals, positive intent does.

Takeaway for marketers: Don’t let setbacks get you down. Every marketing effort will have something go wrong. Find ways to use setbacks to improve your campaigns. This is a powerful opportunity to use your creativity to break through and go for the gold.

Need help taking your marketing and advertising campaigns to Olympic levels? Contact Carpenter Group, an agency that has produced award-winning work for more than 30 years. Check out some recent prize-winning work we’ve done for SEI Investments and S&P Dow Jones Indices.