Fantastic Finish


Super Bowl LI (That’s 51 for you and me) did not disappoint.  Leading up to the NFL Championship Game, most experts predicted it would be a high scoring contest.  For the most part they were right. It was a blowout, but not in the traditional sense. The Atlanta Falcons blew out the New England Patriots - for the first 37 minutes of the game.  The last 27 minutes (including overtime) of the Super Bowl belonged to the Patriots.

Half the country was dumbfounded. Twice.  First, they couldn’t believe how the Falcons dominated on both sides of the ball.  Tom Brady had never looked as befuddled by another team as he looked on this day.  Matt Ryan carved up the Patriots’ defense. The speed of the Falcons defense counteracted anything the Patriots tried on offense. The Patriots’ Defensive Coordinator, Matt Patricia and Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniel looked equally lost.  The only person who looked the same was Bill Belichick, whose expression has not changed since 1974.

Then, just as the country was beginning to wrap its brain around the concept of the Atlanta Falcons as Super Bowl Champions, the dumbfounded lightning struck again.  The Patriots scored. Then, they scored again, and again, and again.  The only time the Patriots led during the game was at the 3:58 mark of overtime when they scored the winning touchdown.  Leaving the other half of the country, well, dumbfounded.

In retrospect a quote by the late Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant, legendary football coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, provides some great advice for both teams. ‘Don’t give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half.’  The outcome shows that the Patriots would have followed that advice to the letter.  It also shows that the Falcons did not. 

Sadly, many business owners and marketing managers make the same mistake when it comes to advertising. They get out to a fast start and build a commanding lead with their external marketing.  

With all the positive feedback they receive from focus groups and their marketing consultants, their confidence in distancing themselves from the competition leads to overconfidence heading into the final step in the advertising cycle – their on-hold advertising.  That’s where they drop the ball.

Some businesses make the mistake of settling for the default on-hold program that came with the phone system rather than create a professional, customized on-hold advertising program.  After all, what could go wrong?  With the strength of their external campaign – they’ve got this in the bag, right? 

External advertising exists for a single purpose – to get a member of your target market interested enough in your business to contact you.  This is merely the first step in the advertising cycle.  This campaign has already created a mental picture about what they will experience when they call.  However, it is in the final step in the advertising cycle, your on-hold advertising, where the game is won.  Or lost. 

Your promise of customer-centered service evaporates in a puff of silence. Or, tones that repeat every 5 seconds. Or, music so bad they wouldn’t even let it close to the elevator.  If any of those examples resembles how you treat current and potential customers who take their valuable time to contact you directly, don’t be surprised when the competition blows by you with 31 unanswered points and ends up on the podium hoisting the Lombardi trophy. At that point all you can do is wipe the bewildered look off of your face long enough to craft a consolation speech to your team as you lose customer after customer to the competition.

Not to take anything away from the Patriots and their historic come-from-behind victory, but the Falcons fell prey to a common foe:  Celebrating BEFORE they reached the finish line.  They built such a commanding lead that they believed there was no way they could lose.  After all, history and time were both on their side. But, on the other side was an opponent not willing to admit defeat until there was no time left on the clock.  The Patriots made the most of their time, which made all the difference.

Investing time, energy, and resources into your on-hold advertising is an investment in your customers.  You’ve been placed on hold.  You know how bad it sounds when a business thought they had the game won with their external marketing efforts alone.  Unfortunately, that type of approach has become commonplace. 

The Falcons made the mistake of thinking they had the Patriots beat; and quite frankly, they did.  However the game was not over yet.  Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots held on to the one thing the Falcons lost sight of during this epic Super Bowl contest.  Coach John Wooden said it best.  ‘It doesn’t matter who starts the game.  It matters who finishes it.’  Distance yourself from the ‘Atlanta Falcons’ of your industry.  Make one small shift to your marketing strategy.

Treat each caller to a fantastic finish.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee