I graduated from Auburn University in 1991 with a degree in marketing. As you can imagine, I’ve joyfully celebrated their miraculous wins in football over Georgia and Alabama over the past two weeks. Many sports experts have said that those two Auburn games were the most exciting finishes in college football history! So, I’m pretty proud of my team.
But, what does Auburn football have to do with marketing, you ask? Actually, a lot. Last year, Auburn only won three games the entire season and played so poorly that the head coach got fired. The entire program was embarrassed and deflated. A new coach, Gus Malzahn, was hired to turn the team around. Amazingly, he turned things around in less than a year – with most of the same players who struggled the previous year. What created such a dramatic change? Two important factors that affect college kids playing football and anyone trying to market books, products, and services:
1. A Dynamic Plan
Coach Malzahn made football fun again at Auburn by changing how the offense plays the game. He didn’t copy the previous coach and do more of the same. Instead, he brought a completely different style to the team. It required learning a lot of new plays, adding some new elements, but his plan fit the strength of the players.
In marketing, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and do the same promotional activities over and over. I’ve worked with a lot of clients who view marketing as a necessary evil or something they must endure. There’s no joy or enthusiasm in their attitude. If you don’t feel excited about promoting your own products, imagine how underwhelmed your customers probably feel?
If you’re not getting results, take proactive steps to mix up your marketing plan. For example, spend less time on social media and focus on getting in front of live customers at events more often. If few people read your blog, reach out to build partnerships with other people who have a larger following. Revamp your promotional campaign with an attention-grabbing hook or take a contrarian position that draws people’s interest. If you’re losing the game, you’ve got to change your plan.
2. Confidence in Skills
Coach Malzahn taught a group of defeated young men how to believe in themselves again. He maximized their strengths, set small goals, and restored confidence that winning was possible. The players bought into his vision, started to believe winning was possible, and eventually their belief became a reality.
In marketing, you must have confidence in the value that you offer people. For example, if you’re an author, do you really have confidence that your book is good? Can you provide examples of reader response that prove it? If you run a non-profit, do you have confidence that a donor’s money is making a tangible difference? Can you point to case studies that prove it? If you’re a business owner, do you have confidence that your product is superior? Can you show sales data and customer reviews to prove it?
Confidence in marketing doesn’t come from trying to fake success or motivate yourself with empty platitudes. It comes from believing that you’ve got legitimate value that helps people and satisfies customers. If you’re not able to create tangible results, you may be playing the wrong game. It’s okay to change positions and do something else.
Imagine the challenge that Coach Malzahn faced when trying to transform a bunch of college kids from losers into winners. He did it in less than a year by implementing a better plan and instilling a sense of confidence. You can use the same two factors to reach new levels of success. When you do, feel free to shout “War Eagle!”