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How The Super Bowl Ended with a Marketing Lesson

Super Bowl marketing lessonEven if you don’t follow football, you likely heard about or saw the incredible ending to this year’s Super Bowl.

Some businessmen and marketers proclaimed the final offensive play by Seattle a “calculated gamble” by a coach known to roll the dice. But it wasn’t a gamble. It was walking away from the poker table with a great hand just seconds away from the jackpot.

And it was an example of how not to operate in business and marketing.

The Summary

To set the scene, the Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from rare back-to-back Super Bowl victories – a mere 25 seconds from finishing a competitive and compelling game. The coaching staff decided to throw a high-risk pass for that one yard and all the glory. The play resulted in a New England interception, and the game was lost.

A Deeper Look

A few people (not many) piped up in defense of the decision, arguing that Seattle’s coach, Pete Carroll is a gambler, and it just didn’t pay off this time and that football coaches, like CEOs, make quick decisions and sometimes they win, sometimes they lose.

Taking calculated risks is one thing. But in this case, it wasn’t playing the odds at all. It was folding in poker with two pocket aces and a great chance at success. Put another way, Seattle had two incredible assets – a literal beast of a player in Marshawn Lynch and – just as important, key knowledge of their opponent’s weakness.

Lynch, one of the all-time great power running backs, is known to either knock down or drag along 250 pound professional athletes trying to stop him. A lot. Tacklers have been alleged to actually get out of his way or avoid tackling him. His nickname is “Beast Mode.” That moniker is not typically given to those who go down lightly. Oh, and his runs have actually caused fan celebrations to register on seismographs…so there’s that.

Just as compelling is this little factoid – New England has a terrible “power” run defense. Dead last in fact during the year. When opposing teams have only needed a couple yards, they’ve usually succeeded. Their pass defense is quite good.

So when Seattle receiver Jevon Kearse made that phenomenal catch (despite great pass defense), and Marshawn Lynch powered his way down to the one-yard line on the very next play…the outcome seemed inevitable. Give it to your best player again, and let him take it home.

But a fateful decision intervened.

Don’t Ignore The Obvious

In sports, business, marketing, checkers and every other endeavor under the sun, knowing your, and the opponents’, strengths and weaknesses is paramount. It can be the difference between properly calculating your efforts and making a gross error that leaves you, and in this case millions of others, wondering “wait, what just happened?”

We see it ourselves every day with businesses that come to us with inconsistent, or non-existent, marketing. It’s inconsistent from not acquiring enough data or acting on incorrect data. It’s non-existent out of uncertainty or misguided thoughts that marketing isn’t needed.

It’s why a marketer’s first step is (or should be) research. What is the client doing now? What have they done before? What worked? What didn’t? And dozens of other points. Test. Monitor. We also educate our clients on it so they know why we do it. We go in fast and fix what is broken, such as local search and local directory listings – and get results quickly. We see what’s working and we strengthen it.

Professional marketers first work to know the client and exactly what they need, then integrate that into their existing knowledge.

Know thyself is a common refrain, but it is not even half the battle. Know thy opponent and know thy situation, and make your business and marketing efforts that much more certain.

Bottom line: don’t gamble with your business.