Coach your customers and move on when marketing misses


As a youth lacrosse coach I have come to learn that drilling athletes is very similar to marketing to consumers. Getting players to practice the same skill over and over and over again is akin to coaching your customers about your offering, its features and benefits with frequent, consistent and targeted messages.

As a coach we need to keep drills exciting for the players on our team and you need to keep the messages that make up your marketing campaign compelling for the same reason. If it’s not compelling your target audience will not grasp on to it with the power necessary to close a deal, make a sale or create the brand retention that translates to loyalty.

When you plan your annual or semi-annual marketing effort attempt to insert a level of excitement that your target audience may not be used to. Keeping potential customers interested in your offering is a lot easier when they’re jazzed about your message. Even if you only supplement your traditional messages with one new concept, vehicle or offer a quarter, the freshness of your campaign will contribute to its effectiveness. Youth lacrosse players get bored when commanded to do the same drills practice after practice, but, when those drills are modified or supplemented with new experiences their interest is peaked and they become more responsive to the objective.

This doesn’t mean switch directions every month but, within the framework of an annual campaign and corporate standards, it is possible to broadcast a consistent message using evolving creative. Similarly, if a particular vehicle, say direct mail, isn’t working for your company you’d be unwise not to devote marketing muscle down other potentially successful avenues. Like the ever-improving lacrosse team, your customers expect a vendor that evolves as their knowledge increases so try to allow your marketing mission to grow with the market segment.

Keeping things interesting is important for coaches and marketers at all levels but there’s no worse criticism for a coach, especially at the collegiate and professional levels, than being labeled as inconsistent. Nearly every column I have ever authored about marketing has driven home the need for consistency in your effort and image campaigns and this one is no different. You can create excitement but still present a unified image and cohesive message.

One way to effectively and compellingly coach, or market to an audience, is to utilize circular messages. For instance, the first part of a practice warms players up by introducing them to a concept, fundamental skills are consistently drilled throughout and we always circle back around to illustrate how those skills support the concept. Introduce new concepts but keep your marketing messages consistent by continually circling back to you company’s fundamental offering.

As lacrosse coaches we begin with fundamentals and slowly introduce more skills to players but guess what? We never stop hammering home the basic skills necessary for them to do their job and you shouldn’t either. Even when you’re broadcasting to a highly evolved market it’s important not to abandon the messages that got you into that market in the first place.

That being said, when we try a new drill in lacrosse it doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s too much too soon for the players, other times the concept just doesn’t click with a particular group. Instead of attempting to mandate that drill be mastered, we immediately modify it or scrap it all together in favor of a different tact that will accomplish the same result and teach the same skills. If an ad or offer isn’t pulling for you it could be the vehicle but it could just as easily be the message, which once modified, can elicit more response.

Your individual marketing efforts, like any structured practice, should always end on a high note so what’s reinforced is a positive, memorable message. In fact, during our lacrosse practices as in our marketing consultation, we try to inject as much positive energy into the messaging as possible at every stage of the educational process.

The important thing to remember is that your potential customers, like a group of players who don’t know as much as they should but think they know everything, your clients can be coached.