Article first published as How Soccer Explains Successful Marketing on Technorati.
It was the Summer of 2006 and I decided to take my wife, newly married, on a new adventure. At 5 in the morning. To a pub.
It was the World Cup, and I wanted (nay, NEEDED) to show her there was so much more to soccer than just a bunch of guys rolling around on the ground pleading for mercy. It was important that she see the beauty of the game. Not in goals or wins or defeats. But the little things that make up the final score.
The games within the games.
I think of this story when I talk with folks about marketing and what it means to be successful with your brand.
We're wired to think about the end results - the final score - to determine how we gauge an event, sometimes forgetting to revel in the amazing intricacies that play an incredibly important piece.
The beauty, and enjoyment, of marketing is the game within the game. The tactical pieces that make up the campaign and overall success.
It's not enough to drive millions of page views to our sites. That can't be the end result that gets us off our bar stools to cheer.
We want quality visitors - we need quality visitors. A quality visitor is someone who keeps coming back and contributes to the story, becoming a brand evangelist (either through sales or / and word of mouth).
Now, how do we get these quality visitors? It's easy. And hard.
We define a long-term objective, then break up that time-frame into smaller chunks with measurable and definable points. We design, test, implement, test, review, update.
In soccer terms, if you're Arsene Wenger, you review the competition, think about the upcoming 90+ minutes, and then break it down into 15 minute chunks. Map out your starting eleven, your formation, follow the pace of the match. Change players as needed.
Design. Test. Implement. Test. Review. Update.
Arsenal (Wenger's team) is a great example of this, and so is Barcelona. The next time you have the chance, watch a Barcelona match. It really doesn't matter who they are playing (although, the Real Madrid matches are always a touch more entertaining).
But don't watch it for the final score. Watch each pass. Each run. Each flick of the ball. Listen to the applause from the fans for the simple and effective give-and-go.
Then, apply that thinking to your next marketing campaign. Think about the little pieces that make up the end result.
In fact, it might even give your end result a little more meaning.
The end result of that adventure in 2006? We later returned to the same pub to watch England v. Portugal. She still talks glowingly about the environment, how much fun she had, and how much she enjoyed the game.
And she doesn't remember the final score.