As a long time marketer who started his career in journalism, I’ve recently gotten back to my roots and gotten to do some writing for my job. In writing my e-book Championships Start with Strategy for my company, I got to thinking a lot about the parallels between football and business. A whole lot. And because I love both topics so much, there were some similarities that did not make it into the book that I thought might make for some interesting additional reading.

1. It all starts with Strategy:

Before the X and Os of day to day operations go down, teams and business have to decide on some fundamentals. We talk about here at ifridge the essential questions of “Who You Are” and “What You Do” but you could equally call it the Fundamentals. Are we a heavy blitzing, hit ‘em where they ain’t looking kind of team on defense, or a more of a reactive, smothering blanket of coverage? On offense, do we pound the ground game, or air-it out whenever we can? Everything that follows in a season – from player personal to coaches to a playbook stems from that decision.

Once you’ve made the choice, you should test its viability by taking what we call the Reality Check – and ask if you can put the team that your strategy calls for on the field, and then can they execute the vision you’ve called for.

2. Operations isn’t a dirty word:

How does your team get to the game, and how early do they arrive? If you’re playing at a higher altitude or warmer climate that usual, do you arrive early, or stick to your normal travel routine. These are the dirty, ugly questions that need to get answered before you even think about getting your team on the field. And in business, the same is true. Do you have your business plan buttoned up, your budget done and your cash flow analysis completed? And no, they aren’t all the same thing.

3. Too much Innovation is NOT a good thing:

Chances are you started your company or division because you had an idea to do something differently than anyone else at time. Be it a better product or a faster, more efficient service, you innovated and established a new business. On the football field, its the Wildcat and its predecessor the West Coast offense. But ever watch a team that was trying to execute either one of those and couldn’t…it was over innovating. So try to keep that spirit that got you on the field in the first place with your new idea, but don’t try to do too much. Set a plan – a roadmap – tell everyone involved about your plan – and stick to it.

4. Go to Market just means working together:

Teams that win do it as one, with one voice. There’s no in-fighting between different groups. There’s no confusion as to who does what. There’s no deviation from the plan. They just get it done.

Go to market is the best when it works the same way. Everyone is speaking with the same voice, telling the same story thanks to your company’s great content strategy. Sales and marketing are working well together, with marketing generating valuable rich leads through its integrated campaigns that sales then close with raptor like efficiency. What, your business isn’t working on the same level? Better fix that immediately.

The similarities don’t stop there, but I think you get the point. Winning teams work together on a plan and execute, and that planning starts with a great strategy. Your business should too.

Liked the outtakes, then you’ll love the full ebook, Championships Start with Strategy, available now from
ifridge & Company. Inside you’ll learn the secret power of pitch and deliver (no, its not a running play) how great teams learn to all talk the same language, and what the secret to winning really is.