Have you ever seen little kids playing organized youth soccer? Without fail, they swarm like bees to wherever the ball is--sideline to sideline, end to end. Then the ball gets kicked or squirts out and the swarm buzzes in a new direction.

The kids haven't learned to play their positions yet, or don't want to. They're little kids, they want to be where the action is, they want to make a play. The temptation to chase the ball is too great.

I've seen companies market this way--and not just young companies who don't know any better. Companies that aren't sure of their position in the market, or are constantly changing it, or believe their position is everywhere.

Companies desperate to make a play. Companies that believe opportunism is the best strategy.

They see a potential market (the ball), and rush over to capture it (score a sale). More often than not, they spend most of their energy buzzing from market to market, occasionally landing a sale, but never staking out and defending a position that will help them win over long term.

The analogy to soccer isn't perfect, but you get the idea.

I've seen this "soccer marketing syndrome" most often in companies offering products across multiple industries. When I work with a client, one of my first questions is what is their target market. I get nervous if they proudly say, "Every market!"

"Every sales person needs one!" they shout.

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