Marketing Eye

A back to basics approach to perfection

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As a sports lover, I am inspired by the stories of past and present champions: Muhammad Ali, Pelé, Rod Laver, Steffi Graf and Stephanie Rice to name a few. I am inspired by their motivations, their will to succeed and the die-hard sacrifices they make. In some instances I want to emulate them, in others I just want to interview them to discover more because there is so much that isn’t being told that goes on behind the scenes.

I have, in fact interviewed several sporting champions across the fields of athletics, tennis, swimming and various football codes and while I am not about to drop names, I will say that there are certain traits they have in common that determine their success.

When I picked up Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open recently, I expected more of the same: a desire nurtured from childhood, a single-minded focus and determination to succeed. What I read, however, was an extraordinarily honest appraisal of a man who fought some very personal mental demons before he could grasp who he is and what his purpose in life might be. This was after he’d won his first grand slam at age 22.

One thing that was holding Agassi back for so long was his need to attain perfection; to seek perfection in not just every match, but also every shot against every opponent.

Perfection was the albatross around his neck.

When he joined forces with coach Brad Gilbert, Agassi learned that perfection cannot always be attained, and that to seek it in every play would cause him to lose more matches than he would win.

When Agassi let go, it freed him up. His mental shackles were broken – although he was still crippled by the question of purpose – and he was able to play free of restraint. To play hard when he needed, to play aggressively when required and to grind out wins that were hard fought and nothing more.

Sometimes the most satisfying wins are the ones that are ugly. Sometimes to get life, business and careers back on track you need to forget about perfection, fight hard for what you believe in and get back to basics.

In marketing the same principles apply. It is not easy to look for perfection in every eDM, blog, flyer or brochure. Often, the most satisfying campaigns are the ones that were hard fought. If you show the client that you are working hard for them, that you are prepared to dig in and win the five setter, they will come to understand that you are working in their best interests to attain the best results.

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