The Marketing Triathlon
Six years ago I attended an interview for a sports event management firm that are leaders in promotion, presentation and organisation of triathlon and sporting events. While driving back I thought of the similarities between marketing and triathlons.
It’s your overall game
I’m an average runner and cyclist, but a good swimmer. In a triathlon, you need to be able to perform each event well. To be a winner, you can’t just bank on one strong point.
It’s the same thing in internet marketing. You need to bring your A-game to all characteristics of your promotional campaign. It’s not enough to be an all-star Twitter or Facebook user. You can’t just be a great copywriter or search optimization specialist. You and your team need to do everything well…all the time.
Especially in highly competitive markets, there’s very little room for error.
You have to be quick to change
A triathlon includes two transition periods: between the swimming, biking, and running stages. Transitions are my weak point. While I’m getting my shoes adjusted, the pros are flying through the area. Even if I could beat them in a straight race, this transition time is added to the overall race time, and slowed me down a bit.
The best hotel marketers are like those pro triathletes. They’re unusually intuitive about which tools & tactics are worthwhile, and can quickly develop an effective strategy for using them. Mediocre hotels are either slow to discover new methods, or their stuffy bureaucracy dooms implementation to failure.
Be quick, be nimble.
You need to train…hard
When preparing for a race it’s not uncommon for me to train several hours a day. For many amateur triathletes, it’s almost like a part-time job. If you want to do well in this sport, you need to be committed.
This work ethic shows up in the best marketing professionals as well. If you’re not devoted to being the best in your market, someone else will come along that’s hungrier to win.
You snooze, you lose
The athletes that try harder, perform better. I watch some athletes coast down hills on their bikes, while other pedal like mad. Guess who comes out ahead?
Similarly, I see some organisations just trying to get by with as little risk or innovation as possible. That’s fatal in today’s rapidly changing landscape.
Only a few seconds separate the winner from the loser
This is true of many sports, but participating gives you a unique perspective. Over a period of several hours, you see a win determined by a single burst of speed – halfway through. It’s the seemingly insignificant things that make winners.