What Do The Olympics Have To Do With Marketing?

Millions of people around the world tuned into the Games of the XXVII Olympiad for the extraordinary displays of physical strength and prowess offered by the world's greatest athletes. They weren't disappointed.

Neither were the savvy business entrepreneurs who watched the games from Athens for insights and ideas to advance their marketing efforts.

What do the Olympics have to do with marketing, you ask?

Plenty... if you consider that the same strategies that led to victory on the track and in the field in Athens this year can also be used to bring you world-class success in your sales efforts. Here's how:

A Sprinter's Strategy - Hold Nothing Back

For the short distances that sprinters cover, a burst of speed that never lets up is the winning strategy that leads to gold medals. From the instant they hear the starting gun, sprinters put every ounce of available energy into a full-out, full-speed, nothing-held-back run for the finish line.

The headline of your marketing message needs to be as explosive as a sprinter's start… and twice as fast.

Consumers are hit with thousands of advertising "pitches" every day. They probably ignore as many as they notice. In order for your message to hit the mark, it needs to come out of the gate strong with all the power you can muster.

Sprinters bulk up on carbs for energy to win the race. Headlines bulk up on benefits, arouse curiosity, present what's new, and offer a quick and easy solution to win the hearts and minds of consumers.

A Marathoner's Strategy - Pace Yourself

A runner who comes "off the blocks" at break-neck speed and expects to go the distance in a marathon may pass competitors early on, but he/she will likely run out of steam long before the finish line. To stay in the race for 26 long and grueling miles, you need a carefully modulated and always flexible strategy

A "Big Picture" perspective is also what's required to keep your business in the race for years to come.

If you model your approach on the marathoner, use short-term initiatives to get you through "the first mile" (free gifts to customers) and you'll have far-reaching plans to make sure that you're still going strong at Mile 26(upselling, back-end sales, etc.)

Just as importantly, you'll have a flexible approach to all your strategies. A marathoner never knows what's around the next corner, and neither do you. (In business, only hindsight is 20/20.) So be prepared to "go with the flow," and make changes in both your short- and long-term plans.

The Hurdler's Strategy - Clearing All Obstacles

When the race starts, a hurdler needs to know in advance the obstacles that are going to come along -- when, where, how big -- so that he/she has the right strategy in place to leap over each and every one… before making the last dash to the finish line.

A successful marketer must be able to hurdle sales resistance… in every way, shape, and form.

When you craft a marketing message, you need to anticipate why a consumer might say "No" -- too expensive, too risky… and then help them "hurdle" that obstacle with a bonus, benefit or iron-clad guarantee.

A Relay Racer's Strategy - One Step at a Time

They say there's no "I" in team, and the relay race demonstrates the importance of a group of individuals working together like a well-oiled machine to achieve the highest level of success. In order for the team effort to work in the end, a series of carefully executed "hand-offs" are required.

Pass the baton in your sales message with a flow of benefits and resistance-killers that seamlessly move the customer from "start" to "finish" (aka a purchase)

A well-crafted sales message starts with an irresistible headline that "hands off" to a compelling opening paragraph, that in turn leads to benefit-oriented lists, testimonials, ordering, instructions, etc. The key is that as each section draws to the end of its "run," it passes the baton to the next section in line without every losing the consumer's interest and attention.

The High Jumper's Strategy - Raise the Bar

There's only one way to win in this event -- jump the highest. If your competitor jumps 7-feet in the air, you must be prepared to go to 7'1". You won't be a winner if you equal your competitor's efforts…you need to do better.

Don't be content to be "as good as" when it comes to what you offer. Raise the bar to a new level that your competition can't surpass.

If your competition is offering shoes at "Buy 1 pair, get a 2nd pair at 50% off," then you should offer "Buy 1, get 1 free." If the "other guy" is offering a mechanical product, then you can offer the same product but include "free annual service call."

The Long Jumper's Strategy - Go Further

Long jumpers seem to defy the laws of gravity -- flying through space high above the ground. Like high jumpers, medal-worthy long jumpers must put in the extra effort it takes to go beyond what their competitors are able to achieve. And they don't win by miles; they win by feet... by inches… by tenths of an inch.

An extended warranty or guarantee is the best way to "out distance" your competitor… regardless of how much further you ultimately go.

You don't have to be twice as good as "Brand X," but you must be better. If they offer a 12-month warranty, then you should offer 18 months. If their "free trial period" is 30 days, make yours 90. And don't be worried that your "we go further" offers will bankrupt you. Studies show that expanded guarantees help convince many people to buy… even though few take advantage of the guarantee.

It's good to know that even if you'll never be an Olympian…even if you can't bench press 500 lbs. or run a mile in under 4 minutes…you can still "go for the gold" -- by the bar… by the box… by the Brinks Truck full! Just translate what you've learned from the sports arena to the business arena!

Copyright 2004 Quick Turn Marketing International, Ltd.

Dan Lok is the World’s First Quick-Turn Marketer, with a proven track record of selling over $ 17.3 million dollars of merchandise and services. He’s the rebel copywriter who’s created hundreds of money-making ads and sales letter for over 39 different industries. And now you can get inside the head of one of the world’s top copywriters without paying a dime at

Dan Lok