As a youth basketball coach, there is nothing like the thrill of seeing a young athlete “get it” after putting in the time at practice to become better at the fundamentals. My championship teams always have a few players willing to work on the little things that often go unnoticed until that skill is needed during the season. I’ve long believed that coaching winning teams means players (and parents) understand that there is a right way to do things. Oftentimes, we ask the players to “trust the process” and good things will happen. And it’s the same for marketing.
Whether I’m coaching 8th graders in basketball or seasoned marketing professionals in new media channels, it starts with fundamentals. In basketball, it’s dribbling. In marketing, it’s as basic as knowing your customer to measure and monitor your progress.
It’s not exciting, but it’s important. You can’t score big if you can’t move the ball.
After you run your dribbling drill, here are five other fundamentals that come from my 25 seasons of coaching hoops to include in your marketing process.
1. Know Your Role
Questions to ask yourself: What role does your product play in helping your customers win? Do you clearly articulate this message in your ad copy, whitepapers, or on your website? The best marketers can clearly articulate the role their product or service fufills to help solve their customers’ problems.
Consider this: One of my favorite players on my 8th grade team is a boy named Anthony. Simply put, Anthony is a bad shooter and, for as much as we practice the fundamentals, his shot just does not fall. But Anthony is a tenacious defender. He has the strongest will to keep his man from scoring. On any other team, he may not see much playing time, but because he knows his role, he is in the game at crunch time because he is a great defender. By simplifying the game for Anthony and focusing on his strengths, his value and role on the team is clear to him and his teammates.
2. Know your goal, work together
I’m a big believer in fit over talent. If a team has the right make-up, it is easier to get them to work together for a common goal. And know that not everyone may buy-in, at least at first.
More and more, our ad agency partners are asking us to help them find content marketing solutions to help our shared clients tell their story. Since creating content that connects to our readers is what we do best, our agency friends find great synergy in asking for our help. It’s a win-win for the agency, the customer, and us, and we become more engaged in the success of the customer.
The fun basketball analogy: Last season, my team lost 6 consecutive games by 20 or more points. It was the low point in my coaching career. After a particularly humiliating loss on our home floor, I asked the boys to write down their goals for what they wanted for the remainder of the season. Every player said they wanted to play in the championship. From that point on our attitudes improved, we worked on different fundamentals, and rattled off 12 straight wins on the way to becoming city champions. My nine players became partners when they worked for a common goal.
It was not easy, but extremely gratifying. Remember what the letters in TEAM stand for … Together Everyone Achieves More.
3. Be First or Be Best
When we practice the fundamentals, there is a lot of repetition of drills focusing on proper form and footwork. I constantly remind my team to be the best at the little things, like jumping off the correct foot when shooting a lay-up or, if they miss a shot, be the first back to help on defense. When we are first or best at what we do, we are a stronger team.
It’s doubly important when you’re in the office–especially when you launch a new product or service. The most effective messages are short and convey why they should be considered first or what makes this product the best. It’s no longer about features AND benefits, it’s about: “What’s in it for me?” Winning content, especially on social media, is built on being first or best. When you are both, and your customers agree, it’s like hitting a game winning shot.
Championship B2B marketing campaigns take a fundamental approach – a frequent, multi-channel messaging strategy (we should be considered first) where you convey why you are the best product or service (what’s in it for me). This process has been trusted by B2B marketers for 100 years. It just works and create wins.
4. Keep Your Feet Moving
Ask yourself: Does your content help move the reader to do something more with you? Are they inspired to give you information to contact them? Does it move them from interested bystander to engaged prospect or customer? By understanding how to move your customer, you can better determine the frequency of your message, the targeted audience, and the benefits they desire to win with their attention.
My basketball practices and my marketing messages are all about movement. I play upbeat music throughout practice to keep the energy up. I use drills that involve multiple players. I make sure every player has a ball in his hands for the majority of practice. There is no idle time. Movement creates energy, and in basketball once your feet stop moving on defense, it is easier for the other team to score. The same principals apply to your content marketing. Your story should create an energy to move your customers closer to your product or service.
5. Don’t Wait to Ask for Help
I spend a lot of our time in practice working on defensive positioning, teaching the team to anticipate how our opponent will attack us on offense. This usually involves the pick and roll. We drill into our players that they must talk with each other by calling out the pick so the player they are guarding can’t get by them. If they get picked, they yell “HELP” immediately and everyone must respond to be in a position to react and stop the dribbler from getting to the hoop. The earlier we yell for help, the more time we have to assist our teammate.
You have help. Let the Babcox Innovation Group coach you with your content marketing needs. Our team of editorial experts can help build a winning game plan to tell your story to our fans of qualified buyers and influencers. Our data and analytics team can connect you with the right audience. Our research team can provide insights how others view your products or services. Get in the game today by contacting BIG for your next project.
Randy Loeser joined Babcox Media in 2013 as publisher of Tire Review and was later given additional responsibilities as the Director of Digital Media and Group Publisher of Engine Builder. In 2018, Randy transitioned into the role of Group Publisher of Content Services to provide creative and custom content solutions to our clients. Randy has worked for several national B2B publishers in a variety of roles, including publisher, business development, marketing and internet products management. Randy is a 1995 graduate of John Carroll University. Connect with Randy by email or call (330) 670-1234 ext. 285.
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