The Super Bowl is an amazing spectacle. The two-week lead-up to the big game, media day, anticipation about the commercials, can easily overshadow the actual game itself. But this is the perspective of everyone except the coaches, players and team management. And of course the NFL and the officials, which I talked about last week.
Every player in every sport dreams of playing for the title. How many of you have ever played in a championship game? In any sport, this is an amazing accomplishment.
We see other championship moments in business when a group of potential suppliers competes and one wins a lucrative contract. When you win a big sale the feeling is exhilarating.
And other than an individual sport, where even individuals like golfers or tennis players have a full coaching and training staff, a single player cannot win the game. A single player on a team can make a play that wins the game. On offense you have a TD pass and catch, TD run, or a game winning kick. On defense you have an interception or fumble return for a score, blocking a kick to preserve a win, or even knocking down the Hail Mary pass to ensure the victory.
But that single player is simply doing what they were taught to do, what they trained to do, what they practiced to do, and what they knew they had the confidence to do. As fans we see this as a single great play. We do not necessarily consider the amount of blood, sweat, tears, mistakes and mental toughness that was generated and developed to allow the performance when the performance was needed.
Football is a game of inches and small improvements that create long-term growth and the ability for breakthroughs or big plays.
Marketing is the same. I mean the overall definition of marketing that is “all activities that help create and keep a customer – profitably.” The marketers’ knowledge, insight, training, love for their job to understand human behaviour, the ability to lead across departments, and the ability to be financially prudent are some key traits required.
Great marketers also know that they are not a one person team. You may have a big idea, but it is the full ability and execution of every member of your marketing team and entire organization that will help ensure success.
And because customers can come and go, an organziation can never stop playing their game. The cycle is continuous and that is also part of the fun.
When you consider pro football dynasties (I am a Steelers fan, particularly the Steel Curtain version in the 70’s) these players and coaches didn’t want to just get to the top for a single experience, they wanted this to become the standard.
I am in no way a Patriots fan, but I marvel at the consistency and level of excellence that Coach Belichick, and his 6th round pick at QB Tom Brady, have achieved. Lots of different players and coaches surrounding them in the past decade+, and yet they are very consistent. And consistently good.
Many organizations are renowned for excellent product quality, Mercedes and BMW; outstanding customer service, Hilton Hotels or Disney; or ongoing combinations of both product and service excellence like SouthWest Airlines under Herb Kelleher (RIP). In all cases there is an obsession with their customers. And in all cases they understand that their employees are the most important factor to ensure the ongoing delivery of great products and service.
Customers and employees. You can’t have one without the other.
T – Together
E – Everyone
A – Achieves
M – More
You do your job and you trust that your teammate will do theirs. This is not just at that moment of truth. It is the confidence and trust that you and your co-workers have in each other that the necessary preparations have you both ready for key moments, and that you know how everyone will act and react to the situation.
It is all the small things on a daily basis. It is also the big things like every employee knowing how their job fits within the organization and how important they are. All the best companies know that success can be fleeting if you do not continue to focus on preparation, review, and improving on execution.
And yes, celebrating the big wins are important to recognize the collective efforts of the entire organization.
Just like when the captains are called up and they get a chance to hold the Lombardi Trophy signifying the championship of the NFL. While they are selected by their teammates and coaches, this does not put them above any other player – it gives them more responsibility as team leaders. It gives them the first chance to hold the trophy, but it is how quickly they ensure that every other person gets to hold that trophy as a thanks for their contribution that makes all the efforts so worthwhile.
Enjoy the game.
And know that the best teams start preparing for the next season a couple of days after the championship – win or lose.
And that is how champions are made. An inch at a time on a regular basis.
Just like championship marketers.