How marketing is like ice dancing in the Olympics

With the Olympics finally drawing to a close, America has been successfully inundated in all kinds of marketing images, from Coke’s iconic polar bears to Visa’s inspiring photos with Morgan Freeman voiceover, to P&G’s feel-good “Thanks, Mom” commercials.

Olympics-SEO500x255Effective marketing strategies aren’t creating on a whim or whipped up over night, anymore than a person can pick up Olympic level slalom skiing over the weekend.

In fact, the creation of good marketing strategies is a lot like the creation of an effective ice dancing performance, as Lois Geller, Forbes contributor, recently realized. She was awed by ice dancing gold medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis who skated a new Olympic high score with their “Scheherezade” routine. After thinking about the similarities between marketing and ice dancing, Geller came up with a few interesting parallels for marketers to consider.

The trial-and-error approach

“Marketing takes a lot of trial-and-error testing to learn what works and what doesn’t both for the marketer and for the target audience,” Geller explained. Similarly, you can bet Meryl and Charlie didn’t come up with their gold medal-winning routine the first time they danced (at ages 8 and 9). Some of their earlier routines didn’t work—they fell short of gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, winning silver behind their Canadian rivals—so they revamped their approach and worked harder to win the judges and audience over to their side.

Getting outside help

“Marketers need outside help, suppliers, and consultants to make programs extraordinary,” Geller mentioned secondly. Obviously, marketers work best when they aren’t in a vacuum. They need teams and analysts and partners to bounce ideas off of before coming up with the solid gold approach. Meryl and Charlie also needed a number of coaches throughout the years and recently even went to Derek Hough, choreographer for Dancing With the Stars, for help coming up with a more complex step routine.

Anything but ordinary

“More than anything, though,” Geller said, “after Davis and White had put themselves in position with exhaustive preparation, they put themselves over the top by . . . being unique.” In fact, the pair wasn’t just unique, they were outstanding, surpassing their rivals and making history with their high score. That’s the key to successful marketing: being anything but ordinary. You must stand out in some way from the rank and file of your competitors and make sure it’s in a way your audience will never forget.

Source: Forbes

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