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Lessons from the Winter Olympics: Mediocre Won’t Result in a Podium Finish

Olympic athlete Elizabeth Swaney is making history for one of the most mediocre performances in Winter Games history. She found the loop holes and earned herself a last place finish on one of the biggest stages on Earth.

She coasted up and down the halfpipe Sunday in two qualifiers with virtually no artistry, finishing last in the event for her grandparents’ home country, Hungary.

As an alpine sport hobbyist, I applaud her. The 33-year-old’s game plan appeared to be twofold: First, she knew that she needed a certain number of top 30 finishes in World Cup sanctioned events to get to the Olympics. Swaney made the cut by attending events with fewer athletes competing, which virtually guaranteed her a ranking.

Second, she stayed on her skis at those events by playing it safe. The way the scoring works allowed her the opportunity to finish better than some athletes who took greater risks, but fell along the way.

As much as the story plays to our own Olympic daydreams, seeded from such fairytale stories as Cool Runnings, this strategy won’t win you clients in the world of digital marketing.

Mediocre will get you in the game, but not on the podium.

[clickToTweet tweet="Mediocre will get you in the game, but not on the podium. #winterolympics #localmarketing " quote="Mediocre will get you in the game, but not on the podium. #winterolympics #localmarketing"]

Win loyal fans by doing more

What does this have to do with digital marketing, exactly? Think about your products and services mix. Your clients want much more than a Swaney alley-oop (the only stunt I saw on her qualifier runs). They want to know that you have all the tricks that will help them succeed.

According to the Local Search Association (LSA), 86% of local businesses want to work with one trusted provider or best-of-breed specialist who can help solve all of their marketing challenges. That is to say, if you aren’t offering everything businesses need in terms of customer acquisition, retention, and upselling, they’ll go to someone who does—and that includes ALL of the products and services across their entire customer journey. Not just websites. Not just digital ads. Not just social media. The whole marketing stack.

You want to qualify and prove your worth with podium finishes in multiple disciplines. Essentially, you want to be the Marit Bjoergen of marketing, not the Elizabeth Swaney.

Related Reading: Unleash the Competitor Killer: Product Diversity

What works in 2018 may not work in 2022

Elizabeth Swaney may have scored some headlines and astonished looks from fans, but future ambitions in the sport (if she has them) may be out of reach. The Hungarian Olympic Committee is considering a change to its selection process, which may force Swaney from future competition.

Rules can change, and they have in marketing. Customers have more information and choices than ever before. They’re making decisions about what they need before they even enter a store. What you did yesterday to help SMBs bring in customers is not be as effective as it once was.

Not to mention, clients are changing too. By 2025, three out of four small businesses in the United States will be run by millennials, according to LSA. Further, 500,000 new small businesses are started every month, and they have large companies with big marketing teams.

The big companies have technologies and tools to deal with these changing needs that SMBs don’t have. It’s David vs. Goliath, and guess who is winning.

Brendan King

CEO, Vendasta

The competition is fierce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, and 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year.

Translation: There are more fresh faces coming, and many of them have the same needs for advanced marketing tools that will allow them to compete and win.

Finish on the podium

How are you proving your worth to clients? Once you’ve ‘qualified’ and gained their business, are you drifting down the halfpipe, or doing the work that results in cheering crowds and rewards? If your fans came to watch you win gold, you better deliver a stunning performance.

You never want someone to watch an Olympic athlete and think, “I could do that.”

Don’t waste your clients’ time. Give time back. By fulfilling all of their digital marketing needs and evolving with customer habits, you can give your clients more time to do what they love.

Believe it or not, local business owners spend only 36% of their time practicing their craft and a whopping 64% of their time doing things they don’t enjoy (read: marketing). If you can prove that you’re driving revenue while giving them back their time, their loyalty will go unrivalled—much like the most die-hard national pride of any opening ceremonies audience.

How, specifically, do you provide the most value?

As our resident motivational coach & CRO, George Leith, would say: Focus on needs-based selling, provide proof of performance, and tame the terror of the post-sale follow-up.

The rest is all about execution. As much as we’re marvelling at the Swaney example, the confused faces of fans at the bottom of the run said it all. No one wants mediocre results when they are expecting an elite performance.

Does all this talk have you itching to hit the slopes or talk more about scoring new clients? Why not do both? Join us for VendastaCon in Banff April 3 - 5.

About the Author

Dani is the Director of Public Relations. She's a former journalist and news junky who spends her days finding creative ways to brag about the innovative work Vendasta does.

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