Peyton Manning - Marketing BudgetThis is not another article extolling Peyton Manning’s commercial virtues as a TV pitchman. Nor, is this another article arguing that he’s a the greatest regular season QB ever and he needs to win the Super Bowl to cement his legacy.

This article is something different. This is about what Peyton Manning does at the line of scrimmage and how it relates to YOUR marketing budget.

The Line of Scrimmage

If you’ve never watched Peyton Manning quarterback an NFL team before (and if you haven’t, you’re in the minority) I’ll explain what it looks like.

Peyton Manning makes something of a spectacle of himself at the line scrimminage. He’ll wander to the line and then start pointing and shouting things like a crazy person. He notices the linebacker walking toward the line as if he’s going to blitz. Should he change the protection? Should he change the play?

But, at the last minute, Manning sees a safey lean to the sideline. So, Manning knows, instantly, that the linebacker likely won’t blitz, instead he’ll drop back into coverage.

As the play clock ticks down Manning continues yelling random things and pointing at the defense. He’s sending his own players in motion, changing protections, changing the play, he does all of this in the 35 precious seconds between plays.

Then he yells a few codewords, something like OMAHA!!’ and the ball is snapped. The average NFL play lasts just over 5 seconds. Some are longer, some are shorter.

Everything from that week of preparation, the summer of workouts, the hours in the film room, and the 35 seconds of diagnosis at the line are condensed into the next 5 seconds.

All of it is boiled down into a very small time period.

What Can We Learn From This?

1) Preparation

Manning has been described as a ‘savant’ and ‘obsessive’ by his coaches. He spends every waking moment in the film room. He analyzes his opponent fastidiously. He will sometimes rewatch the same film 5 – 10 times in an effort to pick out every possible scenario and nuance of his opponent.

The average week of preparation generally involves 80+ hours of work.

How much effort do we as marketers put into planning our budget? How long do we spend analyzing CPA, CPL, and other metrics for each campaign we conduct? Do we fly by the seat of our pants, or do we plan EVERYTHING?

2) Use the Data

Despite the planning, the study, and the preparation–or, perhaps because of those things–Manning is not afraid to use information he gathers at the line. When he sees a linebacker walking toward the line it tells him something. When he sees a safety lean back on his heels, it tells him something else. When he sees the defensive end shift the left, it tells him something else. All of this data is used to make a decision.

Marketers gather data too. Or, rather, we should. The big question then is this: how quickly do we react to that data? We certainly don’t need to make decisions in 35 seconds, but we need to make them very quickly, and we need to make them based on the data.

Read our article about having a Hunger Games marketing budget. 

3) Be Willing to Change, Quickly

Think about this! By the time the Super Bowl rolls around, Manning will have spent nearly 200 hours studying the Seattle Seahawks. He will have spent this time figuring out their tendencies, exactly what works, what doesn’t ,and figuring out a PRECISE game plan for the Seahawks.

Most offensive coordinators go into games with specific plays scripted and specific things they want to accomplish. The plan is made days before the game. Players learn the specifics of the plan and precisely how to execute the plan.

And then…when Manning sees the linebacker walking toward the line he has to have the incredible courage to change the play, to throw out hours of preparation and change the play. Think about that!

The team has spent literally HUNDREDS of HOURS coming up with specific plays that work in specific situations and yet Manning is willing to throw all of that out when he sees a linebacker take two steps to the left or right? That’s crazy. This was a carefully crafted plan and he, with limited time to make a functionally accurate decision, is just going to throw it all out?

Yes. Because that’s what people do when they use the data. They roll with the punches. They throw their entire plan out when the data indicates something different.

Marketers must be willing to throw out their entire budgetary model, their campaign plans, their CPL and CPA calculations if the data demands it.

That’s why analytics are so important. That’s what makes Peyton Manning great.

4) Act

NFL teams boil down all that preparation into 5 seconds of action. That’s incredible.

As marketers, there is a time to prepare, and there is a time to act. When there is money to be made, when accounts are on the line, when jobs are in the balance, the time for action has arrived.

Act. Make decisions quickly. And GO!

Note: Marketers that gather more analytics make more money. That’s a proven fact. Call tracking and call analytics can help you close your marketing loop, attribute your leads, and improve your ROI. Long story short: call tracking is a critical and likely missing analytics element in your marketing toolbox.