Olympic athletes can teach valuable inbound marketing lessons

The Olympics are in full swing and we have been loving the action so far! Even if you’re not traditionally much of a sports fan, you have to admit that there is something compelling about the spirit behind the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In honor of the Olympics, we wanted to offer up something that we hope you’ll find intriguing. Did you know that the Olympic Games can teach you quite a few things about inbound marketing? Really!

Just like with Pokemon GO, you’d be surprised by what you can learn when you’re willing to look at something in a different way. Still with us? Good! Let’s get started…

Olympic athletes can teach valuable inbound marketing lessons

1) Hone Your Skills for Success

For Olympians or any professional athlete, much of their lives is spent honing their skills. Think about the 400 meter freestyle for Olympic swimmers. Katie Ledecky of the U.S. won a gold medal with her time of 3 minutes 56 seconds. How much time do you think she spent training to get ready for that moment?

Ask any serious athlete–even the ones born with incredible levels of talent–and they’ll tell you it’s that extra effort and time put into honing their skills that makes the biggest difference.

In order to execute an inbound marketing campaign successfully, you need to hone your skills. An inbound marketer needs to have a firm grasp on everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to social media marketing and content marketing.

Can you write compelling copy? Do you have any knowledge of HTML or CSS? These are all important elements in any modern digital marketing campaign. This is also an industry that is constantly evolving and marketers who aren’t putting in the extra hours to hone their skills won’t ever be able to compete in the long run.

2) Make a Plan and Stick to It

Olympians consistently dazzle us with unreal displays of athleticism performed on the grandest of stages. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel the immense pressure that rests on their shoulders. However, they’ve trained their minds to overcome these thoughts and remain laser-focused on their goals.

Olympians work with their coaches and trainers to develop a plan of action, which is something that they can fall back on during moments of self-doubt or crises. This allows them to tune out the distractions and the millions of eyes that are watching and waiting on bated breath to see what happens next…

Similarly, if you launch headlong into an inbound marketing campaign without a sound strategy or established goals, things can easily fall apart once the pressure is turned up. You need to establish those key benchmarks before you start.

With a coherent plan in place, you and your team have something to fall back on when serious challenges arise.

What happens when your client starts getting worried and feels uncertain about your campaign? If you’ve developed a plan and have established goals, you can provide impactful updates that show how things are progressing. It makes a huge difference!

3) Leverage Your Strengths

Have you seen the new Reese’s commercial featuring Lyndsey Vonn? It’s a great ad that shows the two-time gold medalist failing spectacularly at a number of summer olympic sports. Their tag line is “Do Summer Like a Winter Olympian” and it’s definitely worth a watch!

This commercial makes us think about the value of leveraging your strengths. It’s something that is just as important for Olympic athletes as it is inbound marketers. Why? As we mentioned before, inbound marketers are required to wear a lot of hats. Over time, you’ll discover the areas where you and/or your team are more talented.

We aren’t saying that you should limit yourself when it comes to the work you do for your company or your clients. However, you should know how to leverage your strengths in order to ensure your campaign is as successful as possible. Does your team have more skills in social media marketing? Then develop your inbound marketing strategy so it’s geared around a heftier push on social media.

Getting new clients can be tough and this can make it hard to say no or to make serious adjustments to what they ask you to do. It’s not uncommon for a client to have a strong opinion about how they’ve marketed themselves in the past. But remember, you are the expert and they have come to you to help them market their business online. This is an important lesson and one that will help you achieve greater success in the long run.

Remember Lyndsey struggling to shoot an arrow? Now watch her tear it up on the slopes!

Play to your strengths!! Even if it’s tough at first, the results will be solid gold.

4) Be Consistent

In a 2012 interview, 1996 Olympic decathlon champion Dan O’Brien was asked what he thought was one of the deciding factors behind the athletes that achieved the most success.

He responded, “Consistency will win out in the long run, always.”

As O’Brien’s career progressed, he found that maintaining a high level of consistency in his events was the biggest factor in prolonging his career. Sure, an athlete can rely on power and agility for some memorable wins, but that won’t last. Dan O’Brien was able to take home gold thanks to consistency in his performances.

Circles representing the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

When it comes to inbound marketing, consistency and persistence are huge factors in predicting long term success. Do you want to develop a good following around your blog? Sure, you’re going to have to create compelling content, but that alone won’t get you where you want to go. You’ll need to consistently post content and promote that content in order to build up a lucrative following.

Do you want to use SEO or social media to generate leads for your business? We can’t stress enough how important it is to stay consistent. We see many businesses that start to make steps in the right direction (publishing new blog posts or sharing good content on their social media platforms) then let things drop off way too quickly. And then that puts them off investing in inbound marketing moving forward.

Inbound marketing is a technique that can drive an incredible ROI for your business or your clients. If you can’t maintain a certain level of consistency, you won’t be able to achieve the success you are after.

5) Assess Your Performance and Build on It for the Future

As I was writing this post, I tuned in to watch the Women’s Volleyball Semifinals featuring the U.S. vs. Brazil. Now, if you watched the last two Summer Olympic Games, odds are you became pretty familiar with Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. They formed arguably the best women’s volleyball team in history with 3 Gold Medals in a row.

Misty has since retired from the sport, but Kerri is still in the game and killing it. Coming into the semifinals, she had never lost an Olympic match, so I was feeling pretty cocky about our chances.

In a heartbreaking turn of events, I witnessed Kerri’s first loss in a match that showed just how brilliant the Brazilian team could be. As they say, every great story must come to an end…

When it comes to Olympic competitions like this, all the preparation and talent in the world isn’t always going to be enough to bring home the gold. That being said, this loss offers an incredible opportunity for our Volleyball team to grow. Kerri and her teammate April Ross will work with their coaches and trainers to evaluate where things went wrong and how they can improve for the future.

Tracking the Performance of Your Inbound Marketing Channels

With every new campaign, you are going to face a range of challenges, setbacks and disappointments. Inbound marketing often involves a lot of experimentation, especially when you are starting out.

This is why A/B testing your ads and landing pages is so important. You might find that a certain ad (one you and your team were really excited about) didn’t elicit a significant response from your target audience. You may even find that you’ve been marketing to the wrong target audience all along. Discoveries like these are disappointing, but they also offer an opportunity to assess your results and make significant improvements.

The same goes for every aspect of a successful inbound marketing campaign. What content has worked the best for your website? What hasn’t? Have you achieved the goals you set for your campaign?

If you’re aren’t meticulously assessing the performance of your inbound channels, you won’t be able to take significant steps in the right direction. Even an unsuccessful campaign can provide incredibly valuable information moving forward.

6) Value Your Team

Research has shown that Olympic athletes face a significantly greater challenge in individual competitions compared to the team events. There are many reasons for this, but the simple truth is that team members can help alleviate that intense pressure of competition and help push each individual to be their best.

Gymnastics teamwork during the Olympic games

Teamwork also plays a critical role when it comes to executing a successful inbound marketing. No matter how difficult a project undertaking is, you can achieve those goals if you maintain consistent communication with the key stakeholders and support the members of your team!


In short, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have been fantastic! The inspiration and feeling of awe that comes from watching athletes of this caliber is truly beyond compare. They can also teach us some valuable lessons as inbound marketers.

We hope you’re enjoying the games and that this post helped you look at inbound marketing in a fresh new light! If you have any questions for us, please be sure to fill out our contact form or leave a comment below.

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