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Idea: Effective Marketing Requires a Great Ground Game

Every two years during the weeks leading up to the first Tuesday in November, the phrase “ground game” spikes on Google (see chart, below).

In American football, sports commentators use “ground game” to describe a team’s offensive strategy that focuses on running a few yards each play while avoiding fumbles and interceptions. A good ground game can be an effective game plan, but it can also make for a boring game for fans who love seeing a 40-yard spiraling pass being caught one-handed by a leaping wide receiver.

But the Google Trends spike of the term that happens every other year is caused by political pundits borrowing it as a metaphor for the difficult chores necessary to get a candidate’s supporters to actually vote. In politics, “ground game” has become more and more important because traditional advertising has evolved into a continuous series of claims and counterclaims pinning blame on the other candidate for all of society’s ills.

The need for a great ground game is no longer limited to football and politics. Marketing success today requires the execution of an effective ground game, too, which translates into carrying out all the small stuff that converts a customer’s awareness of your product into ownership of your product. The ground game of marketing is customer service and communications, and providing whatever help your customer needs to get the most out of owning and using your product. The ground game of marketing means you are responsible for “getting out the vote” every day, not just once every election cycle.

Your marketing ground game should focus on helping customers better use your product. As in political campaigning, customers have learned to tune out your hype and comparisons to competitors.

A good marketing ground game means your online presence is not just optimized for Google, but for the human beings who are your customers.

Just as in football and politics, the ground game of marketing may not be the most exciting or appreciated thing you do, but it’s where the game is won or lost.

All of which reminds us: Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday. Think of it as your participation in the ground game of democracy and freedom.

Photo: Ed Schipul via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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