The end of another F1 season is close and Sunday’s final race will decide whether Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg is champion. Thinking about the race, we’re struck by the similarities between winning F1 teams and successful marketing departments. Not least, the importance of balanced, focused teams that work together, where everyone plays to their strengths and uses specialised skills to maximise ROI, and where they enjoy the recognised benefits from judicious outsourced marketing…
Two weeks ago, Hamilton won in Brazil to take the F1 championship to the last race in Abu Dhabi. Working out the finishing combinations that will determine the winner, is like assembling successful marketing teams – potentially headache inducing. There’s a parallel for a start!Whether you follow F1 or not, please read on because what follows is relevant to your marketing.
Success through focused team effort
Whoever wins – and remember that both drivers race for Mercedes, who have already secured the constructors’ championship – will do so through an intensely focused team effort.
They and their teammates will have successfully combined in-house skills with outsourcing to give best possible ‘ROI’. And they’ll have drawn on their team manager and strategists’ abilities to make the right strategic and tactical calls. In F1, that can mean deciding to pit earlier than planned; in business, it can mean hiring external resource to handle an ad hoc campaign. And all while maintaining team continuity throughout a 21-race F1 season – or a year’s marketing.
Just as your marketers must be completely focused on their objectives, sports teams are only as good as their members’ sustained ability to focus on delivering results – in F1, that means championships.
What marketing challenges will you face in 2017?
Maybe 2017 will be the year you change things around too, with enlightened, demonstrably effective and potentially rewarding use of outsourced marketing services. Why wouldn’t you when the benefits are there to be had for one-off projects, or as a complete ‘marketing department in a box’?Next year, regardless of who wins this year, new regulations will again shake-up F1. Who knows what the new season will bring the racers – or your marketing department…
Undeniably, drivers like Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t have succeeded without raw talent and unwavering commitment since childhood. But without the right team, be it mum and dad or a 700-strong F1 organisation, even the most naturally gifted driver won’t realise their potential.
Maybe 2017 will be the year you change things around too, with enlightened, demonstrably effective and potentially rewarding use of outsourced marketing services.
The ‘team’ is key in sport and marketing
Whether you’re a multinational or an owner-managed local SME, continuity of resource, access to effective marketing tools and technology, freeing team-members to play to their strengths, and an enlightened approach are essential for success in tough markets.It may seem a long way from your MD’s parking space to the F1 paddock, but your marketing department and F1 teams are remarkably similar.
In F1, subtle nuances of driver skill, strategy, technology, and tactics, plus that highly trained team and solid logistics, give the edge. The equivalents in business are your employed or outsourced people, strategy and access to powerful marketing tools. And the ability to cost-effectively deploy specialised marketing expertise that complements your entrepreneurial flair and winning products.
Racing success is measured by winning championships. In marketing, you keep score with volume, turnover, profitability, market penetration, customer satisfaction and reputation.
Personnel changes rarely come at good times
If there’s one big difference between F1 and marketing, it’s how motor racing resets and restarts with each new season. Business is different, with no winter ‘silly season’. Change doesn’t usually come in a seasonal frenzy of bids, signings and development. Instead, it happens all year – meaning there’s rarely a good time for sudden marketing-personnel changes…
Compare marketing and F1-team roles
Now let’s make a loose comparison between some F1-team roles and marketing functions. And please imagine how, for every role, outsourced marketing services could make a valuable contribution…
If one part of your departmental activity comes close to replicating F1’s winter ‘silly season’, it’s probably your annual marketing planning, and formulation of the year’s promotional programme, product launch schedule, social media and exhibition presence…
Throughout your business year, just as during an F1 season, it’s organisational quality, a balanced team whose members complement each other, planning, circumstances (and a bit of luck) that determine outcomes.
When a team’s parts don’t work together
On a good Grand Prix weekend, everything clicks through qualifying and the race, strategy pays off, tactical decisions work, the cars are fast and reliable and results follow.
Occasionally, however, F1-teams don’t work together quite as planned. Why would they when, as with marketing teams, they consist of humans and technology, both of which have weaknesses as well as strengths?
In F1, it only takes is a sloppy pit stop, stuck wheel-nut, or a still-connected fuelling pipe to lose critical seconds. Spectators love how racing is deliciously enriched by pit-crew who aren’t ready when their car pulls in. Or when a top driver mistakenly drives into his former team’s pit! It’s what loses races and championships.
Team-members are put out of actionMarketing’s equivalents are the pricing errors, mistimed product launches, unexpected resignations and social media gaffes that can undermine your marketing – and your business.
F1 periodically sees drivers and other key team-members put out of action unexpectedly. In 2009, Felipe Massa missed several races after being injured during qualifying. Before that, a Ferrari crew chief missed a race with a broken ankle after Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari struck him. And ‘The Red Baron’ himself missed six races after crashing during the 1999 British Grand Prix.
And the marketing equivalents? How about the marketing manager who resigns unexpectedly; or the product manager signed off with stress? The common factor is that team integrity and functioning are compromised.
It’s tough for SMEs
Now translate such unplanned events to your marketing department. Losing key team-members is hard enough for well-staffed multinationals. But for SMEs, sudden loss or incapacity of colleagues easily undermines the most carefully-planned marketing activity. Promotional programmes are disrupted; exhibition attendance is cut; and product launches are postponed… Then add the visible and hidden costs of temporarily, or permanently, replacing an employee…
In sport, as in business, sustained success isn’t so much about avoiding the inevitable ‘low balls’, but how you respond. With the right approach and resources, it’s possible to seize sporting victory from disaster’s jaws –and create opportunities that enrich and strengthen teams.
Outsourcing can help
After Michael Schumacher’s big Silverstone accident, quickly substituting Mika Salo helped Ferrari win their first constructors’ championship in years.Faced with catastrophe, quickly deploying skilled, experienced, outsourced resource can be key to maintaining marketing performance – keeping your F1 championship hopes alive, as it were.
For enlightened SMEs and multinationals, outsourced marketing services play a recognised role in the following – throughout marketing organisations:
- Maintaining short- and long-term team continuity
- Ensuring availability of suitable technology
- Doing what’s best for the team
- Improving return on Investment (ROI)
- Enhancing strategic input (and making tactical initiatives possible
In marketing and motor racing, team continuity is vital for short- and long-term success. That’s why F1 teams put so much importance on driver choices, recruiting top designers and ensuring continuity of excellence with team principals.
It’s the same for your marketing. Unfortunately, as discussed in a previous article, many appointees don’t stay beyond 12 months – an outcome that considerably increases the already high cost of replacing departing marketers. And even if recruitment goes well, the quantifiable and unquantifiable costs of hiring can be eye-watering.
What’s more, the right outsourcing partner really can turn the catastrophe of sudden resignation or long-term absence into marketing advantage.That’s why enlightened organisations increasingly outsource some or all marketing resource on a convenient, budget friendly, responsive ‘power by the hour’ basis. Not only do skilled partners ‘hit the ground running’, but the total annual costs of outsourcing one person, or a complete ‘marketing department in a box,’ can be less than hiring one full-time marketer!
Availability of technology
Whether it’s your business or an F1 team, there’ll be valuable people and technology in house. However, just as F1 teams recognise the value of outsourcing tyre supply and other specialised activities, the same applies to marketing skills, tools and practical experience.
Take sophisticated customer relationship managers (CRMs), the latest marketing automation tools or specialised campaign management software. Not only do these represent substantial investments for budget-challenged SMEs, but there’s a costly learning curve before you’ll get the most from them.
Imagine how much better it would be to access this technology, get the expertise of people who use it every day, and deploy it effectively with an outsourcing partner who already uses it.
Doing what’s best for team performance
In business, it’s not championships that matter, but profitability and reputation. Imagine if hundreds of F1 employees had to arrange their own travel for the year’s GP programme. And how it would distract them from focusing on their core responsibilities.In F1, knowing when to use in-house resource, and when to outsource, is critical for performance and maintaining life-giving sponsorship.
It’s the same for your marketing: think ‘marketing effectiveness’ and ask yourself whether total reliance on internal resource (with its limitations) really is best for your marketing performance.
Now imagine how a little (or a lot) cost-effective outsourced marketing support would help your team’s performance next year?
Return on Investment
Thinking about performance, how satisfied are you with your marketing ROI? If not (and we’d all like to achieve better marketing ROI), take a lesson from F1 where every resource, innovation, modification and investment must prove itself in speed and reliability. If your marketing results could be improved, why eschew the (now recognised) value of an outsourcing partner who specialises in the things you know your team struggles with?
A good outsourced marketing services firm will be able to demonstrate their cost-effectiveness – and how they’ll help boost your ROI.
Strategic and tactical input
Access to strategic marketing input is a game changer in motor racing and business. F1 history has many examples of strategic input at critical times transforming previously lacklustre teams.
(Interestingly, F1 organisations such as Mclaren now export expertise to businesses outside F1 to support their competitive and strategic advantage.)Access to strategic marketing input is a game changer in motor racing and business. F1 history has many examples of strategic input at critical times transforming previously lacklustre teams.
It’s the same for your marketing, where timely injection of independent, outsourced, strategic or tactical input, along with a tailored marketing services package, could transform your marketing. It could also help you avoid many of the costs and constraints that come with even the most highly skilled employees.
Ask yourself whether total reliance on internal resource (with its limitations) really is best for your marketing performance. Could a timely injection of independent, outsourced, strategic or tactical input, along with a tailored marketing services package, transform your marketing?
Your turn to benefit from Outsourced Marketing?
On Sunday, specialised driving skills, supported by a well-balanced team focused on a clear objective, will give either Hamilton or Rosberg the championship.
Whoever wins will have achieved their goal through concerted team effort, balancing in-house skills with intelligent outsourcing, shrewd driver and team-management tactics, and the same relentless focus that Mercedes and their drivers have applied since the lights went out to start Australia’s GP last March.
As mentioned, rule changes will bring new challenges for 2017. Teams with the most enlightened, innovative, focused approach will likely be the most successful.
Thinking about your marketing, will 2017 be the year you change things around and try something more enlightened, demonstrably effective and potentially rewarding?
How about outsourced marketing?