We can learn a lot about business from sports.
Sports are all about mental toughness, ability, and strategy.
Look at the greatest sports leaders of all time and you will find one major lesson: winning games is as simple as repeating moves.
The same applies to business and marketing. In the digital age, it seems like everything is getting more and more complicated.
We ignore the simple. We don’t see the patterns and clues right in front us even when we know those are what can win championships or make us MVPs. We discount simple moves and the fundamentals though they’re key to playing a strong game.
Any truly great coach will tell you fundamentals win championships. One of my favorite stories comes from one of the best coaches ever, John Wooden. John Wooden made UCLA the first real basketball dynasty.
UCLA won 10 NCAA Basketball titles in 11 years. Wooden achieved this through consistency and practicing the fundamentals.
It might sound crazy, but his first lesson was how to tie your shoes.
No fancy footwork or advanced shots, just practice tying shoes.
This is so simple, but it sets an important tone. It’s the fundamentals of fundamentals.
Tying your shoes properly prevents injury. Preventing injury means practicing more, playing more, and growing confidence in every move.
Tying your shoes isn’t sexy, so we discount it.
What’s the “tying the shoes” of your marketing?
If you know me, you might think you know the answer. First, let’s talk about another basketball fundamental: the free throw.
The greatest game of basketball anyone has ever played was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1962.
That night, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA basketball game. This wasn’t a college mismatch or a Harlem Globetrotter game.
This was the NBA.
In that game, Wilt Chamberlain shot 28 out of 32 from the free throw line. That’s 87.5%.
It’s not just about the points. When you shoot free throws like that, being fouled isn’t an option. Shaq’s career could have been the best ever if he followed Wilt Chamberlain’s lead. Instead, other players knew they could foul him to stop the game, and that’s his biggest failure as a player.
The season before his 100 point game, Wilt shot in the 40% area at the line.
Then, Chamberlain shoots nearly 90% the VERY NEXT season. He went from averaging 38.4 to 50.4 points per game.
What’s the free throw of your marketing?
The difference in Wilt’s game from one season to the next isn’t that he drastically became better at free throws.
What made him better was that he went back to the basics with the Underhand Foul Shot (AKA the Granny Shot).
The Granny Shot isn’t glamorous, but it’s known as the best way to shoot free throws. Wilt threw Granny Shots in his 100 point games.
The only other player to shoot underhand was Rick Barry who would miss 9 or 10 shots PER SEASON.
So why did Shaq decide he’d rather shoot zero percent than shoot Underhand Free Throws?
They aren’t sexy. They’re like tying your shoes.
Your customer stories are The Underhand Free Throw of your marketing.
Your customer stories aren’t the one trick that’s going to make you a million dollars. They’re not glamorous. It’s awkward to ask for them. You don’t spend time practicing asking or even making them, so they can’t be that important.
You probably won’t hear a new Chief Marketing Officer get up and say, “I’m going to change our company through our customer’s stories.”
Customer stories and, more importantly, videos of your customers are the Underhand Free throw. Like tying your shoes, they will make every other technique better.
Other companies will discount the fundamentals. That’s why you see things like viral videos, breakthrough campaigns, Facebook hacks, and windmill dunks.
Maybe these things will win a game or two, but they won’t win the championship.
No matter how the game changes, being great at collecting, crafting, and delivering your customer stories will WIN YOU CUSTOMERS. If you keep working on the fundamentals, you’ll eventually have that 100 point game.