What Women’s Eight Rowing Can Teach Us About Optimized Online Marketing

Author: Monica Madsen

The following is a guest post from Greg Elwell, principal of B2B Inbound. Greg works with Stream Creative on a number of client engagements involving content, SEO, buyer personas and lead nurturing.

It was something Mary Whipple, coxswain of the U.S. women’s eight rowing team said in a post race interview that caught my attention. The U.S. team had just defeated Canada in the 1500-meter event at the 2012 London Olympics to earn a gold medal.

Whipple gave this inspiring confirmation: “I’m nothing without these girls. We did believe it from the first stroke and we knew that someone was going to have to take it from us. There’s nobody I would want in this boat but these eight women, and we did it together.”

To Whipple’s emotional exclamation, teammate Caroline Lind recalled, “Before the race I said to Mary, ‘you’re my brain and I’m your body, and we are all Mary’s body,’ and she goes, ‘what a great body!’”

This story of nine bodies working rhythmically and powerfully together to achieve a remarkable goal sparked something of an ‘Aha moment’ for me. It came while preparing for a trip to the office of Stream Creative to discuss online marketing services such as buyer personas, SEO and lead nurturing. Quite simply, the epiphany I had was this: The individual elements of online marketing are tremendously effective when they can be combined and optimized to work together in an orderly fashion.

A second influence helped ignite this corollary between women’s eight rowing and online marketing. And that was Lee Odden’s recent book: Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing.

Odden, the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, helps us see the value and power of integrating, what is often times disparate members into a unified strategy and practical game plan to achieve optimized online marketing results.

Mashing the inspiration of the women’s eight team, together with the insights Odden offers in Optimize, here are a couple perspectives we can’t do without to achieve an optimized state of online marketing.

A Unified Approach

Coxswain Whipple had a plan for every stage of the race, and how she was going to coordinate the rower’s strokes in this video on visualizing the perfect race. One of the announcers broadcasting the race talked about them focusing inward, within their own boat and keeping 9 people exactly on the same page, getting locked into the rhythm. The more you could do that, the faster you go, she said.

The same principle holds true for optimized online marketing. It starts with holistic planning. In chapter 4 of Optimize, “In It to Win It: Setting Objectives,” Odden lays out how to set goals involving SEO, social media and content marketing. He talks about mapping marketing objectives to business goals, and how to think about developing and optimizing content, SEO and social media for each stage of the customer lifecycle.

To visualize this, consider this analogy of the women’s eight rowing team. We can liken the boat to a web site – the vessel that serves as hub and container of the crew. The rowers comprise the content – the power source. The oars are like channels and the means (like SEO, social media, PR, email marketing, etc.) that transfer the content and moves the effort forward. Then we have the coxswain – the leader responsible for steering the effort and keeping everyone in rhythm.

If you’re a marketer or business manager you’re the coxswain of your web site. You must see that every crew member and oar is engaged, optimized and working together towards the goal. You understand that the integrated effort of all the tactics and channels available to you, and engaged by your audience, can have a substantial impact on reaching your marketing and business goals. It may seem reasonable to invest individually in SEO, social media or content marketing, but as Odden points out, “I think you can see that these disciplines can work together to achieve an amplified effect on the ability for companies to attract, engage, and inspire customers to action.” (p. 41, Optimize.)

An Orderly Implementation

Rower, Caroline Lind talks about the orderly progression of the race when she says, “The first half of the race is really about finding a rhythm, relaxing into that rhythm. The second half of the race is when we find those new levels…then the last 350 is about everything you’ve got and crossing the finish line.” In effect, there’s a tactic employed from the coxswain to the crew in an order that makes sense to their overall objective. What if they implemented a middle, or end of the race tactic from the very start?

Quite often, marketers are pulled in to help with a new or underperforming web site once the content is done, with the idea of doing keyword research or SEO. It’s like trying to jump in a race at the halfway point. “Instead of bringing SEO expertise in after content has been created,” writes Odden, “keyword research should be initiated at the time of creating the content plan.”

In the ‘Implementation’ phase of the book, Odden lays out how an optimized approach to online marketing can best begin with developing customer personas. From personas, we learn about the topics of interest to guide keyword research which is followed by creating a content plan, optimizing it, and then engaging and promoting a persona-centric plan through appropriate social media channels.

All these parts, working together in an integrated and orderly way can get us to an optimized state, and shove our boats across the line.

The U.S. women’s eight rowing team inspires a champion’s heart, and Odden with Optimize, shows us how to take online marketing to the next level. Who’s ready to bend some oars?

Topics: Buyer Persona, Online Marketing, SEO