It's hard to live in Minnesota without relating everything to the Minnesota Vikings these days. In case you missed it, the Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs in an instant classic that featured four lead changes in the final 3:01 and an "I can't believe my eyes" game-winning touchdown by Stefon Diggs. It's being called "The Minneapolis Miracle," and you could probably hear our Skol chants (that's a Minnesota thing) all over the country.
You can watch the fantastic finish here, but the Vikings proved themselves worthy of this article much earlier in the season. After losing their starting quarterback and starting running back in the opening weeks, they rallied behind journeyman quarterback Case Keenum, undrafted wide receiver Adam Thielen, a no-nonsense coach, and a ferocious defense to post the second-best record in the NFC. Why should this matter to marketers? Because the Vikings are a true team, relying on strategy and teamwork as much as talent. And we can all learn a lot from them.
What Can Marketers Learn from the Minnesota Vikings?
Even though landing page conversions are very different from 2-point conversions, there are many similarities between all successful teams, not to mention successful strategies. So, when you tackle your next marketing challenge, remember these lessons we learned from the Vikings this season.
1. It Takes a Team
Digital marketing is a complex discipline, and a modern team needs to understand content, social media, video, analytics, conversion, SEO and more. It sounds obvious, but how many football teams treat it like one more draft pick or free agent signing will put them over the top? And how many marketers treat it like the next shiny object will solve all their problems? The Vikings are proof that having a lot of good things working really well together is more important than one or two really good things.
2. Look Forward, Not Backward
Minnesota is no stranger to defeat (and neither is Keenum). Every day is a new day, a new chance to start fresh. The same is true for marketing. There's always another chance to do better next time. New tools, technologies, and strategies are always evolving in marketing. So, if you don't like your results today, you can always do something fresh that will get you there tomorrow.
3. Diversify Your Strategy
The Vikings defense doesn't use the same strategy on every play. In fact, their secret is mixing coverages and surprising opponents with well-timed blitzes. Not every marketing strategy is going to work for every situation/goal, so it's important to master the fundamentals, develop a broad playbook, and match the right plays to the right situations.
4. Put in the Hard Work
There's no magic button. Games are won by a series of small methodical actions, not just one big play. Even before Diggs' touchdown, the Vikings had to make many other big plays to get into position to win. And they had to win many big games to get to the playoffs in the first place. In marketing, you really do need to do the blocking and tackling, the persona-building that helps identify the audience so you can create the targeted content that drives traffic and leads to conversions. It might be nice to push some kind of magic button to get results, but there really aren't any shortcuts.
5. Faceoff Against the Best
If you want to be considered one of the best in the game, you have to beat the best in the game. The Vikings' walk-off win wouldn't have felt quite as important if it hadn't come against Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks in the business. The quality of the competition gave the win some extra credibility.
In marketing, if you want to win at SEO, you have to take on the #1 players. You can't write crappy content and expect to wind up on the first page of Google. If you want to beat the best, you have to BE the best.
6. Review the Tape
Football is all about scouting and preparation. The Vikings analyzed and scouted the Saints tendencies, and that helped hold them scoreless in the first half. They also self-scout, analyzing their most effective plays for various situations, and you can bet that helped them call the right plays down the stretch.
Marketing is the same way — you need analytics to understand what's working and what's not. Analyzing your audience is a lot like scouting an opponent, looking for opportunities to drive traffic, and conversion analytics are like self-scouting, analyzing the best ways to get results. In each case, the analysis is the start. What you do next (your strategy) is what determines your results.
7. Follow Your Game Plan, But Don't Be Afraid to Call an Audible
Like most football teams, the Vikings' gameplan always starts with 15 pre-scripted plays. They represent the best strategy based on all of that pre-game scouting and research. But once the game is underway, and once they get a chance to see how the other team is countering their strategy, adjustments must be made.
The Saints clearly made some changes at halftime, and Keenum clearly improvised on some of the biggest plays of the game.
Preparation sets you up for success, but analysis and adjustments actually get you there. How does that play out for marketers? Know your unicorns. If you are getting extra traffic from one post, do everything possible to capitalize on it. Boost your post, add it to your email blasts, write a supporting piece, or do a webinar on the same topic. Once you've identified an opportunity, jump on it!
The Vikings still need one more win to get to the Super Bowl, so their season is still evolving, just like your next marketing plan. But a win in Philly will bring them home to Minnesota where we are hosting the Big Game for the second time in history. It can be easy to feel like you are facing the MN curse, but remember, your big marketing miracle might be just around the corner, it just takes a little luck and a lot of hard work.