Why marketing is like marathoning

Career lessons: Why marketing is like marathoning

Jennifer Riegert

Account Director

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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During a recent short run, I realized there are quite a few similarities between my favorite free-time activity and my career in marketing. It all started in 2006 when a friend signed up for the Flying Pig half marathon. When she asked me run with her, I agreed right away. Since I’d never been a distance runner, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After being a two-sport athlete in high school, I was extremely overconfident and thought I understood every lesson I needed to succeed in something as simple as running.

I was very wrong. Between proper footwear, complicated training schedules, adequate nutrition and dealing with injuries, I’ve learned that training for any distance race requires a lot of hard work, intense discipline and quite a bit of passion. I realized these same lessons are also relevant to my career.

Both training and marketing require significant patience.

Like a person with physical goals, whether it’s losing weight or training for an event, you have to be a patient marketer. Each day, you have to commit to doing the best you can and making good choices, even if you don’t see significant results right away. In an instant gratification society, both training and marketing are long-term activities, but if you are willing to be patient and tenacious about your plan, you’ll have a much better chance to achieve your goals.

Choosing the right tools makes all the difference.

It took a really bizarre foot injury in 2015 to finally help me see that I was wearing the wrong size shoes and needed to incorporate more cross training into my schedule. I was doing the right amount of running, and wearing proper running shoes, but not having the right results. Marketers face similar challenges every day. Just because one tactic or idea worked for one problem, doesn’t mean that it will work for another. It’s important to spend the time doing your research and finding the right platform, the right blogger or reporter, or the best tactic or tool, so you can get the biggest return on your investment.

Regardless of your dedication, if you don’t get buy-in, you will fail.

As a runner, I rely on my husband and kids to support my goals and make time for me to train. Without their help and understanding, I’d never be able to get the miles I need to be ready for each race. Getting buy-in from clients is equally important to the success of a marketing plan. When you present a recommendation, it’s critical to offer a complete rationale behind your approach and give them all the information they need to understand and support each step along the way.

Every best practice has come as a result of a successful “test and learn.”

I didn’t appreciate how important proper nutrition was to running and training until I reached the seven-mile mark in my first training program and struggled to get any farther. Since each person’s body is unique, I had to do a lot of research, talk to other runners and then try different things to find the best way for me to hydrate and fuel my runs. Marketing is really no different. Each business challenge is unique, so disciplined marketers must make the time investment to understand the business, the customer, the industry and the problem, then test different methods and learn from the results.

During the past nine years, I’ve completed five half marathons and I’m currently trying to decide what I want to tackle next. I often feel the same way about my marketing career. In both cases, patience, tenacity and courage to try new things has continued to pay off.

Are there other hobbies that align with your career? We’d love to hear about the popular, unique and even crazy pastimes that have inspired your professional lessons.

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