Stuffed at the goal line

As I write this, we’re still in the middle of the World Cup (minus the U.S. team) while the other football, the one with the funny looking pigskin spheroid, waits in the wings. And I’m reminded of a few clients who, over the years, could learn a lesson from both.

Specifically, I’ve noticed a pattern whereby a client invests a great deal of time, money and energy in developing a unique product or service, one that has a real chance of gaining traction in the marketplace. As they move closer to launch date, they allocate additional funds to marketing, as they should. But then something interesting happens. With 99 percent of the foundational work done (what we at Imagine call “laying track”), they get cold feet. Whether it’s impatience, lack of commitment or simple fear, they back off, put the campaign on ice, decide to take a “wait and see” attitude. And by doing this, they miss a singular opportunity.

It’s like methodically moving the ball from your own one yard line to the opponent’s one yard line, only to take a knee. Or refusing to participate in a penalty shootout. Either way, you’ve nullified all the hard work that got you to that point.

In his book “The Xs and Os of Success,” ex-UNLV basketball coach Lon Kruger (a guy who knows a little something about winning) discusses the concept of “accelerating through impact.” In Chapter 32, he writes, “Success is about confidence. While confidence alone does not make you successful, it’s what you are able to accomplish with the confidence that leads you to success. Confidence allows you to focus on what needs to be accomplished, rather than focusing on what negative outcomes might occur. Too many of us concern ourselves with the fear of failure and, ultimately, this fear begins to dictate our actions.

On the other hand, being confident enables us to perform actions at our highest levels possible. At the point of greatest impact, we accelerate our actions because of our high confidence rather than decelerating because of lack of confidence. Accelerating through impact leads to positive results in almost anything we do.”

I added the italics for emphasis because of my strong belief in this statement. Whether we’re passing a football, hitting a baseball, swinging a golf club or throwing a punch, the worst thing we can do is pull up short. Instead, success happens when we follow through. It’s the same in marketing.

There’s an old adage, “When is the best time to make a sale? Right after you’ve made one.” That’s because your confidence is high and your fear is low (or nonexistent). In marketing, as in life, confidence and commitment make the difference. Your business will never reach its full potential if you’re hedging your bets. Just like the champions of “The World Series of Poker,” you need to go “all in” at the most opportune time. Because you may not get another chance.

Brian Rouff is managing partner at Imagine Communications. He can be reached at

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