by Bill Todd
You might not think a Formula One auto race in the world’s richest country some 5,000 miles from America would have any practical lessons for marketing your business. But some interesting parallels can be drawn between cars barreling once a year through a timeless principality, and the race you are running to market your business or non-profit.
For starters, Monaco is generally regarded as Formula One’s most challenging circuit. It’s a little over two miles of hairpin curves with rising and falling elevations. Drivers of the world’s most magnificent racing machines have to rely on utter skill to navigate through narrow streets where it’s almost impossible to pass another driver.
There are all kinds of storylines coming out of 28-year-old Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo’s dramatic first-ever win at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. For me, at least three offer perspectives on long-term marketing success.
1. To finish first, you must first finish. This was the advice given to winner Daniel Ricciardo before the race. His team was saying in effect “don’t focus too much on any single phase of the race. Focus instead on finishing. Keep that in the front of your mind.”
In marketing, there’s every temptation to make you divert your attention to enticing new tactics that really don’t pay off in the end. You can’t win if you don’t finish. Make your marketing investment, stick to your strategy and don’t panic when things go wrong. What will keep you going is the next lesson, which is to:
2. Find your motivation. Ricciardo is a young driver but he’s not the youngest. He has had several major disappointments, and his win at Monaco in his own words felt like “redemption” from past failures at the Monaco GP. For instance, in 2016 a suboptimal pit stop cost him a Monaco win. A technicality robbed him of a pole position last year. He responded this year with a passion that blinded him to self-doubt, he used the failure as fuel, and it made him burn with determination to outlast everybody else.
If you don’t believe in your marketing, how do you expect anyone else to? If you aren’t happy with your marketing efforts, it’s often up to you alone to have the internal drive to push through and succeed. Find what it is that will make you burn inside with the will to win.
3. You can win with what you have. Ricciardo had finished all three previous days of Monaco practice rounds as the fastest car on the track. But on lap 28 of the 78-lap race, the unthinkable happened. Formula One cars have 8 gears, but suddenly on that lap Ricciardo lost gears seven and eight, and never got them back. The three previous practice days meant nothing now. He finished well over half the race by gritty maneuvering through the narrow streets of Monaco with only six gears. He also depended on the advice of his expert team to radio him on the best times to shift the gears he had left.
Many times, you’re going to feel that you’ve lost power relative to your competitors. The race to tell your brand’s story is ever-challenging because you are competing with others for share of voice, mind and heart. That storytelling takes resources and it takes commitment. But it helps more than you know to have a trusted team around you who can see the bends and curves. You need to focus on finishing while they help to be your eyes, ears and hands.
You may not have the biggest advertising budget. But with a motivated focus on your vision, using past failures as fuel, and access to a great agency team to counsel and help you, you can be happy and win like Daniel Ricciardo did.