Content Marketing Lessons from Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is the oldest, and arguably the most celebrated, annual marathon in the world. Its grueling 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay attracts more than 20,000 runners each year and literally hundreds of thousands of spectators. Whether you’re running in the race today or on the sidelines like I am, the 116th Boston Marathon can be used as an analogy for some valuable lessons. Applied correctly, they will help you to be successful in content marketing, business, and life in general.

Lesson 1: Preparation Matters

People don’t run a marathon on a whim; they spend months preparing for it, diligently following a schedule that most of us find exhausting just thinking about. Through a combination of interval training, cross training, and other techniques, they slowly build up their endurance and speed so that their bodies are ready to perform come race day.

Takeaway: A content marketing strategy isn’t going to pay off over night. You need to consistently invest resources into it over time to get your desired results. Stay the course and one day you’ll be ready for your victory lap.

Lesson 2: Things Don’t Always Go According to Plan

It’s impossible to predict all of the variables that can potentially affect your performance on race day. From how well you sleep the night before to how the weather turns out, there are a litany of factors that can negatively impact even the best-trained runners. With temperatures expected to top out at a record-breaking 88 degrees today, the Boston marathon runners know this all too well.

Takeaway: You have to be able to adapt your content marketing strategy to account for unexpected changes. A report you spent weeks working on may need to be completely rewritten if the market suddenly changes and the topic is no longer appropriate for publication.

Lesson 3: There Are No Shortcuts

Rosie Ruiz proved this lesson to the world in 1980. After being the first female to cross the finish line of the 84th Boston Marathon, she was ultimately stripped of her title when it was discovered that she hadn’t run the entire course. Instead of going down in the history books for an incredible accomplishment, she’s just another example of why cheating isn’t a winning strategy.

Takeaway: Doing things the right way is always the best approach. For content marketers, that means creating quality content using high ethical standards. If you plagiarize someone else’s stuff or try to cheat the system in any way, you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run.

Lesson 4: Perseverance is the Key to Success

Runners approaching mile 20, the beginning of the treacherous heartbreak hill, know just how important perseverance is. By that point their bodies are tired and aching, and they’ve really got to keep focused, taking the race on step at a time, until they cross the finish line.

Takeaway: Keep going, no matter what. There will always be set backs along the way, but if you are steady and consistent with you approach to content marketing, you’ll succeed over the long term.

Lesson 5: Push the Limits

The world is closely watching the Boston marathon this year to see if Geoffrey Muttai can do what was previously thought impossible by running the 26.2 miles in just two hours. Just a few years ago, no one would have thought this would ever happen, and today if very well might.

Takeaway: To push the limits of content marketing, you need to be innovative and ready to try new things. A few years ago, no one was producing infographics, and today, they’re ubiquitous. What new kinds of content can you come up with to push the limits?

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image provided by: Stew Milne / AP Photo