“Every Play Every Day”; Are You Focused On The Ball Or The Goal?

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The Women’s World Cup has kicked off and I’ll enjoy watching as these top athletes compete. I also have the pleasure of watching my kids play in their summer soccer league. Not exactly World Cup caliber, but entertaining all the same. In fact, as I was watching my kids play I was amused as they all bunched together and chased the ball. As I observed a game I noticed some correlation to many marketing organizations.

No focus, no strategy, too many people playing the same position, not enough coverage, attention to where the ball is but not where it’s going ….

Are You Focused on the Ball, or the Goal?
Lack of focus appears to be an epidemic across many organizations. If you watch little kids play soccer you’ll notice that their heads face down the majority of the game. They follow the white ball and move as herds as the ball bounces with little direction. They haven’t learned to focus on the goal, the actual goal, nor do they understand the need to anticipate where the ball is headed. 0259cd3

Most marketing organizations become very focused on tasks and tactics. They focus on that ball but don’t understand which direction to move it or how to engage others on the team to gain positive momentum. Others haven’t defined a strategy or even measurable goals. Their goal is broad, like “grow awareness”, and because it’s so broad they never know when they score. To be successful marketers must understand how to unify the team and define supporting tactics that will result in a defined goal.

And this can be a challenge when you consider the different personalities that emerge on a team.

Can You Manage the Players?
My kids’ coach is great with the children, but he’s more familiar with American football. He refers to the defensive line a lot. I give him credit though. He’s tasked with managing lots of personalities. Like most teams he has a couple of ringers, but most of these 6 and 7 year-olds are unsure of their role in the game.

You have the “possessor” that wants to keep the ball to himself.

The “hot potato” that can’t wait to get rid of the ball by kicking it as far away as possible, absolving them from responsibility.

The “along for the ride” player that is always in the mix but somehow manages to never actually touch the ball or contribute anything.

The “meddler” that forces their way into the bunch and gets touches on the ball with no concern for direction or purpose. They just want to be a part of the action.

The “observer” who remains outside of the bunch and is ready to work once the rest are done wasting their energy with little progress.

And of course the “la-la land” players that really have no clue what’s going on.

Marketing teams, like soccer teams, can be an exhausting bunch, but each player on the team is in fact on the team and it’s the responsibility of the manager to identify their talents, manage their quirks, and harness the contributions of each team member.

Don’t focus on what you want to change with the individuals, rather focus on the skills each possesses. Develop a skills matrix that identifies the skills requirements of your organizations. Map the existing skills to the required skills and recruit or train for the gaps.

Most children will never achieve World Cup status, and neither will most marketing organizations. But with the rights focus, tactics, and players you can certainly evolve your team past the summer recreational league program.

How are you working to overcome needless penalties, lack of focus, and dead balls?

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Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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