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5 valuable marketing lessons you can learn from sports

Lessons everyone can appreciate and implement.

Everyone likes sports. It doesn't matter if you love football, or hockey, or tennis; there are so many things you can learn from it; life lessons, leadership lessons, marketing lessons and the list goes on and on.

Being a marketer myself, here are the valuable marketing lessons I've learned from sports.

1. If you don’t have a clear goal, you don’t have a game

Just like sports, achieving success in marketing takes a lot of time and effort. If you are not clear about what you are trying to achieve, then you’re preparing to fail. And every marketer knows that. But what they can learn from sports is that goal setting is not a task; it’s a process. The best way to achieve success is not only to set goals but to set them the right way. Also, you need to plan, execute, and monitor your actions to achieve those goals over time.

Remember, the road to success is a process, not serendipity.

2. If you want to master everything, you’ll achieve nothing

Most marketers focus on too many marketing activities to be at the top of their game. But that’s a false notion; you don’t need to be a master at everything-- the secret lies in mastering a skill. Every successful sportsperson scores more in their preferred strike zone. Why? Because they know that by playing to their strengths they can increase their chances of doing well. And, so can you.

Don’t forget, if you aim to master everything, failure is around the corner.

3. If you are too afraid to fail, you can’t win

Everyone wants to succeed always, and no one likes failure. There is nothing wrong with wanting success. But, it’s impossible to succeed all the time. Even the best sports people fail too many times. If they can fail, so can you.

Mickey Mantle says, “During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.”

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan


There’s a lot every marketer can learn from these sports people, regardless of whichever sports you follow.

“If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful!” – Charles Barkley

4. Disobeying the rules can cost you your game

Every sport has a different set of rules. And every sports player knows they can’t win the game without following those rules. Like sports, marketing has rules too. No matter which marketing channel you use; email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, etc. you must know the rules and follow them too; both legal as well as general. For example, email marketers know their marketing emails have to be CAN-SPAM compliant. Likewise, there are other general rules every email marketer needs to follow to keep emails out of the spam folder.

If you want to win the game, you’ve to learn the rules.

5. You can’t eliminate risk

The greatest athletes are known to be risk takers. They earned their athletic success by getting out of their comfort zone and by not playing it safe at all times.

Muhammad Ali famously said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

This makes for a great marketing mantra for modern marketers. To achieve success in marketing, you need to take creative risks especially when the consumer attention spans are getting shorter and gaining eyeballs is tougher than ever. Smart marketers are constantly optimizing their campaigns by trying & testing new tactics to enhance their brand image and increase profits. And, no matter how risky it looks, some of these risks will eventually pay off.


Mario Andretti (Racing driver): “If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough.”

Marketing and sports are quite similar. No matter how much you prepare and plan, sometimes things will go your way, sometimes they don’t. You’ll have some successes and few failures too. Patience and persistence are the keys to keep improving yourself.

“Marketing is no different from being an athlete—knowing your path, setting it early and accomplishing it.’ – Adrienne Lofton,