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The Olympic flame has been temporarily extinguished, the athletes have gone home, and the sidewalks of Turin are quiet again. As we look back at the highs and lows of the winter games, there are three definitive business and marketing lessons to be learned.

1. Don't become overconfident

Lindsey Jacobellis's wipeout in the snowboard cross finals, just before the finish line, is a prime example of how cockiness can take you from gold to silver in an instant.

Businesses and organizations that become overconfident as a result of success run the risk of losing direction or making errors. It's always best to come from a place of hunger, no matter what the size of your business is. It helps keep you focused on serving your market segments with a competitive spirit.

2. Don't put all your marketing weight into one vehicle

NBC paid over $600 million for the exclusive broadcast rights to the Olympics for the American market. Although NBC claims that its viewers totaled over 170 million, one can't help wonder how many more would have tuned in had the programming not been delayed until prime time.

Years ago, before the advent of the Internet and satellites, the time difference wouldn't have mattered. But now, so many of us are online or receiving RSS feeds for instant news, that it's challenging for television to capture market share when event results and the names of the winners have already been plastered on Web sites across the globe.

Even when marketing budgets are small, it's best to choose at least three marketing vehicles to promote your message. Relying on one medium alone reduces your chances of being visible.

Consumers and business-to-business clients have distinct preferences in how they prefer their communications. And when people are bombarded with over 3,000 messages daily, yours can easily get lost in a sea of messaging in a variety of channels.

3. Develop a plan

According to "Athletic Insight," athletic performance has three parts: physical preparation, technical skill, and psychological readiness. However, it claims that psychological preparation is the component most often neglected by athletes and coaches.

Goal-setting is one element of mental preparedness for any Olympic sport, as it is for any business. Developing a solid business and marketing plan is essential to knowing where your business or organization is heading on the road to success. If there are no set goals, how will you know what you've achieved, or how to evaluate the return on investment for your marketing efforts?

Sports psychologist Dr. Colleen Hacker states in an article, "Once athletes (and coaches, for that matter) begin to set observable, measurable goals and specify the date for completion, it is not uncommon to experience increased motivation and excitement as goals are successfully accomplished."

Balancing these goals and keeping them realistic is important to attaining them. Hacker cautions that setting too many goals too quickly, or setting unrealistic goals based on one's current level of performance, can also be damaging.

"The key point to emphasize," she says, "is that it is better to design fewer, high quality goals and commit to their successful accomplishment than to set too many goals and hope that several will be accomplished."

Translating that to the business world: It's beneficial to develop a realistic marketing plan that focuses on strategic objectives according to the size and nature of your business capacity. You can always increase your ambitions as your business or organization grows, listing your objectives in phases that are dependent on your increasing resources.

* * *

The Olympics may be a memory until the Summer Games begin in 2008, but to build your brand, profile, and customer base, your business and marketing efforts should be a year-round commitment.

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC in Phoenix, where she serves the business and nonprofits sectors. You can learn more marketing tips at www.solutionsmc.net.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel