Defense Wins Championships


NFL fans have been hearing that phrase forever.  This statement is generally accepted as truth by those who state it, and those who hear it.  To accentuate their point, those making the statement reference either the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, or the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.  Heads nod in agreement with this proclamation as if Socrates himself hath spoken.

However, the experts were proven wrong last Sunday Night.  For Arizona & Seattle, defense was king, but all it led to was a 6-6 tie. In overtime.  Special teams were terrible. Both kickers miss chip-shot field goals – unthinkable.  Nothing like this had ever happened in the history of the National Football League.  The Cleveland Browns scored more points that day than the Seahawks and Cardinals combined – and they are 0-7 this season. Even the players and coaches didn’t know what to make of this game. No touchdowns. No winners.  Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the Browns franchise. 

So is it really all about defense? 

We just witnessed a game dominated by defense alone and the result was not pretty.  Defense by itself is boring. Defense alone causes the audience to tune out in record numbers – check the ratings.  Yet, give it a week or so. NFL football-speak will center on the ‘fact’ that championship play is all about defense.

The same thing happens in business.  Sales representatives for VoIP phone systems will lure companies with promises like, ‘All your telephone expenses go away: No long distance charges, no expensive equipment to purchase up front.’  One of the ‘facts’ they recite is that you no longer need an on-hold service provider because on-hold music is provided with the system for FREE. 

Make no mistake; these all-in-one VoIP phone solutions are based exclusively on defense-only architecture. The purpose of this type of program is to let a caller know their call was not disconnected. That’s it.  They simply don’t understand the power of the on-hold advertising environment. That’s why you hear beeps play every few seconds or perhaps a 20 second loop of indiscernible, royalty free music playing over and over.  These free programs scream, ‘Just wanted ya to know we didn’t hang up!’  It’s hard to build customer relationships like that. Not to mention the opportunity that is lost by not including advertising messages promoting your business directly to your callers placed on hold.

Even Cisco has fallen prey to this faulty line of thinking about the on-hold environment. Their default on hold music was recorded in 1989 by a 16 year-old kid using a drum machine and a 4-track cassette recorder.  The audio sounds as exciting as a 6-6 overtime tie.  Even if the on hold music is provided for free, is that the type of music you want reinforcing your brand?   The time your callers invest in contacting you is valuable; for them and for your business.  It needs to be treated that way.

In football, it is defense, combined with a good offense, and solid special teams play which leads to a championship run.  Look at the Super Bowl stats for the models of ‘defense wins championships.’ The ’85 Bears beat the Patriots 46-10, the Ravens beat the Giants 34-7, and the Seahawks beat the Broncos 43-8.  They all had great defenses.  But in winning the championship, the Bears, Ravens, and Seahawks scored in all three phases of the game:  Offense, defense, and special teams on their way to being crowned World Champions.

Successful businesses don’t put all their advertising eggs in the defense-only basket.  If that were the case they wouldn’t advertise at all.  These championship caliber businesses go on offense by advertising across multiple platforms. They score on defense by having in-store music and digital signage to keep their customers informed while they are on site. They follow that up with solid special teams play by having creative on-hold advertising programs that entertain, educate, and engage callers interested in their business who are placed on hold. Each system works together to benefit the other. 

Therefore, I have come to a very important conclusion:  Defense wins championships.*

*When combined with a great offense and great special teams play.  It works in business and it works in the National Football League.

I wonder if the Browns know that….

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee