Don’t Play Prevent Marketing When It Comes to Influencers

My second favorite holiday is this weekend — Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a time to feast on gluten-free nachos and critique expensive advertising. I’ll probably also watch the game and cheer for the 49ers (ideally this fact does not deter you from reading the rest of this post).

I recently learned about prevent defense. This technique is meant to prevent the opposing team from completing a long pass and it can be used when one team is ahead and doesn’t want the other team to catch up. Most football fans agree this is a boring and predictable approach.

Wouldn’t it be awful if Super Bowl Sunday rolls around and the teams play conservatively in hopes they can sneak out a win? What we all want to see is a real battle of best to the bitter end. The crowd wants creative plays, innovative coaching and stunning, yet calculated risks. In short, we want a ridiculously awesome demonstration of excellence.

The same applies to marketing. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, don’t play unless you’re playing to win.

Playing to not lose is a waste of your time and everybody who comes in contact with your marketing. Best case, they will be uninterested. Worst case, they will write you off forever.

Let me apply this to a real situation. You want to build relationships with socially influential people so that you have a network of supporters out there on the web. One approach would be to watch from the sidelines, responding to people who tweet at you or mention you in their posts.

What you should be doing is proactively reaching out with your story, sharing ideas and looking for opportunities to add value to someone else’s community.

When you are engaging with online influencers, be bold, think big and try new things. Just like in every other aspect of marketing, you should be experimenting, measuring, learning fast and iterating.

John Madden said, “All a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.” To bring that back to marketing, I’ll say this (and hopefully Ad Age will quote me), “All prevent marketing does is prevent you from winning.”

So put some skin in the game and play to win.

If you want some inspiration to get you started, download our Guide to Influencer Marketing. It’s full of good ideas from all star marketers who know what they are doing on the field.