We're in the middle of football season, and it seems appropriate (and hopefully not too cliché) to examine what we in marketing can learn from football.

At the most basic level, we can see a strong relationship between football, or any team sport for that matter, and business. To succeed, players must work together to execute well-orchestrated plays . We're all aware that in business, just as in team sports, weak players create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the opposing team.

Although football metaphors abound in business, this article explores the idea of outkicking your coverage—an example of an overly strong player harming a team's performance.

Before we talk about how that applies to business in general and marketing in particular, we should explain what the phrase means. When an exceptional punter kicks the ball too far down the field, the receiver for the opposing team, aided by his blockers, actually has a greater chance of gaining precious yardage for the big play.

Essentially, the punter has created an opportunity for the competition because his team is unable to be in proper position.

How does "outkicking your coverage" apply to business and marketing?

A system—whether a team or other organization—comprises interdependent and interacting elements that function together to form a whole. Systems serve a purpose and are usually made up of subsystems. Marketing and Sales are part of the business system, and each is a subsystem.

Keeping the system in balance is critical to optimizing performance. Overperforming elements can just as easily knock a system out of balance as an underperforming element. Maintaining balance among all the moving parts is a real skill (which is why coaches, CEOs, and chief marketing officers earn the big bucks).

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM