A Pre-Game Pep Talk for Marketers


The Scene

We’re all familiar with the importance of pre-game pep talk in sports. It’s a chance to finalize strategy, remind everyone what success looks like and emphasize your team’s purpose. 

You know the scene. It looks a lot like this Gene Hackman classic from Hoosiers. (Video courtesy of MGM.)

So with March Madness in the air, we want to give our pre-game speech to marketers everywhere.

The Speech

In a dimly lit locker room, with a stack of papers in hand, our marketing coach walks in … 

We know our audience behavior. What they like, what they care about, what they do. They’ve told us through research, through information they’ve provided to us and through their online journey. It’s who they are. And it’s who we need to understand.

We’ve put in the work, the time, the energy and the focus to find out what these people want and how we’re going to deliver it to them in a compelling fashion. The time? It’s now. But don’t forget the planning. Don’t forget what you went through to get here. For every email sent, every tweet published—there was blood (OK, this is a little over the top), sweat and tears.

And we did it together. There have been some bumps along the way. Heck, we’re marketers, not the living embodiment of perfection. Different people with unique talents and skill sets came together to create the best path forward. That’s collaboration. That’s integration. That’s what it takes.

You’ve heard it before: It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as we, and our clients, succeed.

Crowd noise builds in the background.

And even though you’ve planned for it, know you’ve put in the time—you still have to execute. The great John Wooden said it best. It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” Focus on every detail and execute to perfection.

The opposing team has just left its locker room. You can hear them bouncing in the hallways, slapping the wall and then their intro music plays. Off they go.

This game of marketing … it’s sometimes stranger than life. Despite all this work, it’s not about what we know. It’s about what we can prove. We need to go out, play hard, play with purpose. But let’s commit to making the right choices. New paths may present themselves, better ideas may come. Every idea is an opportunity. Let’s go with what’s working. Don’t be afraid to double down, and at the same time, don’t be afraid to pull back. This game is fluid, and we can adjust.

An assistant coach steps in, holds two fingers in the air to indicate how many minutes are left until the squad needs to start warming up.

Results matter. Put aside your personal agendas and put results first. If we do that, together, we will win. Let’s go get it!

Through an explosion of cheers and clapping, the team sprints onto the court. And so it begins …


Marketers and creatives can find inspiration everywhere. Our chief creative officer, Mark Stone, says it all the time. Everyone is creative.” And often times, sports and marketing are symbiotic. Just look at some quotes from legendary coaches and think about how these could just as easily apply to marketing.

It’s harder to stay on top than it is to make the climb. Continue to seek new goals.”
—Pat Summitt

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
—John Wooden

A coach should never be afraid to ask questions of anyone he could learn from.”
—Bobby Knight

Setting up a system that rewards you for meeting your goals and has penalties for failing to hit your target is just as important as putting your goals down on paper.”
—Pat Summitt

The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
—Vince Lombardi

One Last Thought

Look, Mike Schwabl is a huge Notre Dame fan and this blog needs an ending. So let’s get pumped up one more time before we go conquer the world of marketing.

(Video courtesy of TriStar Pictures.)

Fun fact about Ryan: He’s 10 inches taller than Rudy. And that’s without shoes on.

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