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Marketing Lessons From March Madness: Go Deep Young Team!

by Jonathan Moran  |  
April 2, 2014

Michael Jordan once said, "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships."

Every March, college basketball programs strive for balance: closing out the regular season in style and peaking for the conference tournament while building toward the longer goal—a favorable seed and successful performance in the NCAA Tournament.

Though individual superstars account for some wins single-handedly, the teams that go deep in the tournament year after year play as a cohesive unit. The starting five can't bring home the trophy without a strong, skilled bench.

MJ's wisdom applies equally to modern marketers. Let's break it down to his three components: talent, teamwork, and intelligence.


What happens to star players who aren't surrounded by a capable squad? They become demoralized; they can't win by themselves and they can't get the support they need. Star marketers without the right team or tools get just as frustrated. Starved for resources, their marketing projects and programs fall short—or fail to get off the ground. More specifically, they lack the insights or data to know—for certain—how to move the business forward. It happens all the time.

Talent coaching tip: To go deep into March Madness, the team has to be solid. So what should modern digital marketing departments look like? Start at the top: The days of the creative whiz at the helm are over. CMOs and digital marketing directors have to become analytical, data-driven. Inundated with data from a dizzying array of sources, marketers must learn from that data or lose in the early rounds. From top to bottom, the marketing organization must blend creative with analytical talent. Encourage your executives to hire folks that balance the art (the creative) and the science (the analytical) of marketing.


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Jonathan Moran is senior product marketing manager for SAS Customer Intelligence Solutions. Jon is particularly interested in the rise of social, the profitability of customers, and best-practice retention strategies.

Twitter: @jmmoran12

LinkedIn: Jonathan Moran

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