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Olympians and B2B Marketers

Team GB has had its best Olympics in modern times, primarily due to the nature of the athletes themselves and the support networks on which they rely. But B2B marketers may identify a number of traits found in Olympians that they recognise in themselves and their colleagues...

Perfectionist An Olympian will tinker with the smallest details of his or her technique until it is absolutely faultless, basing decisions on how tiny individual changes alter overall performance. Meanwhile, a B2B marketer must be constantly evolving the marketing activity based on statistics and outcomes – for example, A/B testing subject headers on emails or altering which terms to invest in with PPC. That’s not to say that statistics should drive all activity or that the activity should be meddled with on a weekly basis, but regular review of reliable and conclusive data that drives small changes can yield results.


Seeking Competitive Advantage Team GB has Performance Directors in almost every Olympic sport, many with a specific responsibility for determining how to identify where winning margins will come from, no matter how small, working on the basis that multiple small advantages can total up to victory, even with room to spare. Similarly, B2B marketers need to keep an eye out for the latest developments in marketing trends and tools. For example, is the latest social media network able to be used to your advantage, or is it just hype? Or, how can the latest trend for displaying, presenting or distributing content be put to use for your messaging?


Core Strength Look at most athletes’ training regimes and a strong core and abdomen is the foundation of their fitness, upon which all other strength training is built and all their power and stamina relies. Likewise, successful B2B marketers must concentrate on building a strong core of content of various shapes, sizes and tones – thought leadership, case studies, video, infographics, blog posts and so on. Without building such a library of materials and collaterals, no other marketing activities can function.


Controlled Rivalry It would be impossible to reach the Olympics without being competitive and ambitious, and from this, rivalries will inevitably arise. But as any sport commentator will say, athletes have to “run their own race”, or “play their own game”, else run the risk of aiming for the wrong target. Equally, B2B marketing teams have to keep a watchful eye on the competition, yet not become so overwhelmed with countering their rivals’ messages that their own become distorted. A successful B2B marketing team will know what its competitors say and how, but will not lose sight of its own goals and what messages and methods are appropriate for its own brand and purposes.


Patience – How many races did we see where the winner came from behind, biding his or her time before dashing for the line? Ultimately, this comes down to an enormous amount of patience and confidence, and exactly the same is required in B2B marketing. A message, campaign or new initiative that does not resound with the target audience immediately should not necessarily be abandoned, especially if it is controversial or innovative. The best B2B marketers know that such ideas need time to filter through and take root before producing a return, though also know when to return to the drawing board.


Specialist Support Clive Woodward memorably hired visual skills experts who helped the world cup-winning England Rugby Union team to train their eyes, improving anticipation, reaction times and hand-eye co-ordination. In exactly the same fashion, Olympic athletes often have a network of specialists who contribute in their own, sometimes seemingly modest, ways to bringing overall success. Specially-trained coaches, strength & conditioning trainers, physiotherapists, nutritionists, psychologists and even data analysts are becoming standard components of a winning athlete’s support network. A B2B head of marketing will likewise rely on a variety of experts – internal and external – to provide guidance in such arts as SEO, social media, copywriting, design and so on, each contributing their own expertise, knowledge and specific experience. When it is all co-ordinated correctly, the campaign is destined for success.


Image Conscious – The Team GB kit was famously designed by Stella McCartney and the subsequent flurry of tweets and comments in the media from athletes showed how well it was received. It has been said many times that confidence breeds success, and so an athlete wearing kit that looks good and that they like can perform that fraction better – it may just be one of those tiny, infinitesimal advantages mentioned earlier. A B2B marketer will know how important image is – your website meets your prospects before you do and you don’t get a second chance to impress. Just like an athlete wants good kit, a B2B marketer needs a good website that’s user-friendly, visually appealing and full of impact, while being clear about its message and that provides plenty of useful information in a digestible fashion.


So how much of the above did you recognise in yourself and your team? Do these traits make your marketing faster, higher and stronger?! Can you be a medal winner?!