5 Marketing Lessons to Learn From Surfing

marketing lessons learned from surfingWhen I was 10, I bought my first surfboard for $60.  Actually, a friend of my dad’s gave it to me.  But my dad thought I should pay $60 so I learned the value of it.  It bugged at the time, but I’m glad dad always taught us the value of things and the value of good, hard work.

Ever since that time, I’ve loved making analogies to the lessons learned in the surfing world.  In this case, the fit is perfect.  Marketers need to know these 5 lessons that have been part of the surfing experience since the beginning.

  1. Know Your Game

    Before you go paddling into the water, you need to know your strategy.  You need know whether you’re riding a short board or a long board.  You need to know what your surfing style is (are you going for big aerial maneuvers or strong solid turns).

    In marketing, before you get going you need to know what your strategy is, what your messaging is, what tools you’re going to use.  You need to know your game head of time.

    Getting into marketing without a good understanding of your game could make you look like a kook long boarder trying to ride a short board.  Funny, but not effective.

  2. Positioning

    Once you get out in the water, your first job is to get into position.  You watch to learn the movements of the water, get a feel for the ocean bottom, and where the waves are breaking.

    You position yourself to be in the right place at the right time for the next set of waves.  You also need to position yourself  against other surfers in the water (your competition).  If you line up too far behind the peak to get a head start on the other guys, you could end up getting closed out.  If you stay in the pack, you’re always a step behind the guys taking off.

    Your position has to be perfect and the bigger the crowd, the better your positioning tactics need to be.  When you’re marketing your business, you also need to position yourself properly in the market and against your competitors.

    One good way to approach it is to first liken yourself to others in the market (help prospects know what you do quickly) and then differentiate yourself from competitors (help prospects understand why you’re different and why they should choose you).  Not positioning yourself correctly could have you always surfing but never catching waves.

    lessons learned in marketing

  3. Go Hard

    Once a the right wave comes, you have to commit.  You’ve got to paddle with everything you’ve got to catch it.  Then, once you’re taking off, looking down the face, it can get scary.

    You’ve got to thrust your weight forward, over the ledge, and go for it.  If you don’t you’ll either miss the wave, or you’ll end up getting sucked over the falls.  Not fun.  Once you’re in position with your marketing strategy, you’ve got to commit to go for it.

    Your first inclination may to to hesitate.  As you look over the ledge you realize you’re taking a risk and you get scared.  Don’t stop.  Once you’ve planned your strategy and gotten into position, its go time.  Don’t let the butterflies in your stomach stop you from achieving your goals.

  4. Get Back In The Game

    When you’re surfing a good point break, you can catch rides that take you all the way down the beach  The paddle back to the lineup can be brutal.  Sometimes, its better to get out of the water, walk back up the coast and paddle out again.

    Either way, you have to get back in the water.  If you’ve been out there battling the surf, the crowds, the hunger, it can exhausting thinking about paddling back out again.  There’s a temptation to quit.  Even though the waves may be great, the exhaustion can take its toll.

    After a big marketing push, you can also feel overwhelmed at the thought of going through it all again.  This is not the time to give up.  Get back in the game, get back in position, solidify your strategy, then take a breather if necessary.  The longer you wait to get back into position, the harder it will be to regain your initial position.

  5. Never Give Up

    The crowds, the wind, and the lack of a good swell can cause a surfer to give up and stay out of the water for extended periods of time.  Nothing good comes of this.  You get rusty and you lose opportunities for scoring decent waves when no one else is out.

    Consistency in marketing is also required for scoring small wins over and over until the big ones come.  Once you head down the road of executing your marketing strategy, don’t give up when the crowd gets nasty or the conditions aren’t prime.  Keep plugging through.

    Consistency alone will help you overcome your competition and win in the game of marketing.

So, if you want more details on this analogy, you’re going to have to meet me at one of my favorite breaks in Southern California.  Just let me know when you want to go and we can discuss it over a surf session.

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