ThinkstockPhotos-492783018-792757-edited.jpgUsain Bolt once again dominated his track and field events at the Summer Olympics, putting the perfect finish on his last Olympics in Rio with three gold medals. For eight years, Bolt has been the standard of athleticism, triumph and competition. As the “fastest man in the world,” it seems as if Usain isn’t racing anyone but himself.

But he didn’t get there by taking sprints around the block. Bolt has trained his entire life to reach this pinnacle of athletic success. He says, “Competition is the easy part. Behind the scenes is where the real work is done and everything is done to get to that one race that you need to run.” 

In other words, the hard part comes when he’s training, not when he’s reached the primetime TV slot. Many brands probably know this applies to their methods of marketing as well. The glory of a successful campaign all pulled together, beautifully presented and generating leads, doesn’t come without the struggle, the back and forth and the elbow grease of developing good ideas that come to fruition.

While your brand might be the Usain Bolt of your industry, it’s important to remember that your team is more like the Jamaican relay team when it comes to the hard work behind the scenes. Marketing is the anchor that takes a company’s offering across the finish line ahead of all other competitors, but sales and product teams are the other relay members that bring the baton as far as they can. Bolt recognizes the critical help of his teammates; marketing should do the same.

To win the race, marketers need to constantly eye the competition in the surrounding lanes and put in the work before they reach the track. This takes a careful approach to company-wide teamwork, knowledge of your audience and a dedication to the game as a whole. To become the fastest company in the industry, take some advice from the fastest man in the world. 

Sales Team

One of the first places marketers focus their attention when trying to gain new customers, reach existing ones more effectively and increase company revenue is to partner with the sales team. Companies with closely aligned sales and marketing teams have 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates.

Most companies tie the success of these two departments together. In many cases, sales and marketing acts in tandem rather than independently. A successful company is one that has a clear line of communication between sales and marketing.

With efficient communication between departments, marketing can gain a better sense of their customers. If there is one thing that can deliver a competitive advantage it’s the use of buyer personas.

Companies who map these details and apply them to the buyer journey see 79% higher cross-sell and upsell revenue. Sales teams are often the professionals interacting with customers and hearing feedback about what is important. That information is critical to creating accurate and useful buyer personas.

The sales team is one member of the track relay team racing for the edge out in front. They help put marketing in an advantageous position when it is their turn to run. Together the two members finish the race as they hoped: in first place. Training for that hand-off before the race takes good communication, solid interdepartmental alignment and an understanding of how to work together.

Product Team

Another integral piece of a marketing team’s competitive strategy that is often overlooked because of the main focus on sales is alignment with the product team. Marketing must have an in-depth knowledge of their company’s offering to market it effectively. The best way to learn this information and apply it to any marketing campaign is to work with the product team at every stage of the process.

During innovation, marketing is able to see what the company ideals have been founded on. During development, marketing can see the evolution of an offering. And throughout it all, marketing can highlight the best and most beneficial features of a service or product that appeals to the customer. The best product teams will keep marketing goals in mind as well while doing their job to ease the collaborative process.

This is all the behind scenes work that elevates a company to the stage of competition. Usain Bolt would never have even seen an Olympic stadium without training and applying lessons learned to new strategies to get faster. As a team, the Jamaican runners trained individually, but bring the essentials and fundamentals of running a relay to their performance.

Marketing must do the same with the product team. They can each do what they do best, but at the end of the day, being on the same page will push a company to a higher level of necessity, loyalty and prominence in the customers’ minds.

Winning the Relay

Of course the Jamaican men’s 4×100 relay team couldn’t have won without the surge Usain Bolt provided in the last stretch, but ultimately it was their teamwork that set them up for success. Each individual put in the effort before the race to know how to run each 100 meters to the best of their ability. Marketing should be doing all they can to compete to the best of their ability, including building various relationships across an organization.

However, it’s all relative. After all, Usain Bolt runs 27 miles an hour, which is about 20 miles faster than the average human. But comparatively to other species, humans are quite slow. Considering the everyday house cat can run 30 miles per hour, Bolt has nothing on the animal kingdom. Marketers should remember this as well when looking to outdo their competition.

As a tiny company, your standard doesn’t have to match Coca-Cola or Apple. It should just outpace other tiny companies as you all aspire to grow to the heights and speeds of Olympic champions and Olympic-sized companies.

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