Start, Bench or Cut? What Marketers Can Learn from Football

The 2014 NFL preseason is underway. After 25 Sundays without football, it’s finally time to pull our jerseys out of the closet.

At this point in the season, teams are hard at work setting their rosters — looking closely at their options for the year ahead. Which players will start? Who will come off the bench to make an impact? And who just won’t make the cut?

Developing a solid roster is critical to finding post-season success. We’ve seen time and again that the coaches who most effectively evaluate players’ strengths and weaknesses often have the best chance of winning it all.

It got us to thinking — if this selection process works so well for football, it surely must apply to life science marketing, right?

Choosing a successful marketing lineup requires a careful look at all your communications options. Here, we provide a guide to help you evaluate your resources and put together a winning marketing roster for the year ahead.

What to Start

Practically everyone who watches the NFL knows their team’s top starters. Why is this? Because being a starter means being the face of the franchise. Starters in the NFL provide the most “bang for their buck”; they are effective and versatile. For example, San Diego Chargers’ great LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the most versatile backs in the game. He could run, catch and lead the team.

Just as LaDainian Tomlinson was the face of the Chargers, your marketing strategy is the public persona of your company. Identify the most versatile elements of your marketing plan, and make sure they’re in prime health for the year ahead. Content marketing, social media, SEO and an engaging website are some of the highly versatile elements to think about. Just like a starting quarterback, every piece of your starting marketing lineup should be integrated into the overall plan to effectively hit each desired target.

What to Bench

Bench players provide auxiliary support for the starters. They possess specialized skill sets and are best used in specific situations. Though, they can also fill the void if a starter gets injured. These players need coaching and practice to develop, but they often possess the potential to become full-time contributors.

Similarly, many elements of your marketing strategy may require more attention to become fully effective. For you, it could be your paid advertising plan or your thought leadership strategy. Furthermore, if you have a marketing tactic that can serve a specific purpose, like a pass rusher that plays on a third and long, you can utilize it to supplement your “starter” strategy. This might be a pay-per-click campaign to bring extra power and attention to new content.

What to Cut

Players are cut from NFL teams for many reasons. The Cowboys cut DeMarcus Ware because of the high cost of his contract and recent injuries that limited his productivity. If elements of your marketing strategy start to fade, it might be time to part ways. While it can be difficult to cut these strategies, it is necessary. If a strategy isn’t providing the desired return, it could be time to move on. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and invest in something else.

Remember, winning the Super Bowl takes refinement. Even the best coaches undergo countless changes to their lineup. Developing and executing a winning marketing strategy means you too must make the tough decisions. Be ruthless in your selection process. Hold your marketing strategy accountable. And know when it’s time to let a tactic develop.

Now, who’s ready for some football?!