We’re deep into the 2021 football season. Regardless of where your team is in the rankings, there is something to be learned about marketing from what the head coach tells the players on your favorite team.

What does coach speak have to do with marketing? Listen carefully enough, and you’ll discover that there’s plenty. We’re going to take a close look at five coaching cliches and tease out the marketing strategies hidden therein.

Give 110% / Nothing comes easy in this league

Coaching is part strategy, part psychology. Great coaches are experts at applying psychology to motivate their players. They preach mental toughness and they insist that every player bring their “A” game. That’s because they know there’s a tendency to let up when things get tough. But an exceptional level of intensity often leads to positive outcomes. You know a great brand when you see it. Successful brands resonate with their customers. Yet the great brands have access to the same marketing tools and talent as the brands that fail.

In my experience, numerous variables contribute to a brand’s success. However, it’s tough to conquer a highly motivated team. And that goes for marketing strategies as well as sports.

We have the utmost respect for the other team

Coaches often say this about their next opponent. They’ve spent endless hours studying film and analyzing the other team’s tendencies. The goal is to anticipate the other coach’s moves in critical situations. Similarly, good marketing teams devote time to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their primary competitors. They know that their customers can choose between multiple brands. Consequently, they don’t assume their brand is better than the other brand.

They periodically scan the competitive environment and see the market from the customer’s point of view. This form of “respect for the other team” can yield actionable insights for astute marketers. Conducting a brief analysis of a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses can often spotlight potential opportunities to exploit.

Study the playbook from cover to cover

Smart players are intimately familiar with the team’s playbook. They have to be because the entire coaching staff, their teammates, and the fan base count on them to play smart football. In addition, the players perform their role in a system. Players have accountability to one another.

The same goes for great marketers. They have a deep understanding of their brand guidelines. The company is counting on them to be the champions of the brand. This requires a working knowledge of what the brand stands for. They’re conversant not only in the visual aspects of the brand but the brand’s voice as well. Every positive brand impression, no matter how small it may be, contributes to the brand’s overall success.

Take things one day at a time

As a lifelong sports fan, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard this cliché spoken by coaches. In marketing, we operate day to day in the trenches. However, we have to think longer-term than just days. We develop plans that are a year or more in scope. We measure the performance of our tactics in terms of weeks, months, and quarters. That’s why it’s vital for business planning to ensure marketing has a seat at the table.

I want to see team spirit

To borrow a phrase from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, “winning breeds winning.” Celebrating success is an essential element to building teams, both in business and sports. Yet, as obvious as this seems, it can be overlooked. Don’t take celebration for granted.

This is especially important when things get tough. We’ve all been there. Unexpected market events are commonplace. Fostering team spirit is your insurance policy against losing momentum when business is slow or the economy is experiencing a downturn. Be sure to celebrate your marketing successes. It lifts the entire team. And it helps team members feel like they’re part of something special.


You don’t need a whistle, clipboard, headset, or any other piece of coaching paraphernalia to learn a little about marketing strategies. Now go out there and show them what you’re made of!

About the Author: Michael Quill

Known for delivering successful marketing outcomes by providing strategic and tactical leadership. Passion for shaping product strategies that resonate with the target market and implementing marketing campaigns that align with business objectives. Add immediate value by taking marketing management to the next level and supporting the sales funnel.
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