Fourth Quarter Meltdown


The Seattle Seahawks are World Champions!  Words shouted with enthusiasm by Steve Raible, the play-by-play announcer for the Seahawks radio network, when they absolutely destroyed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.  That team knew how to finish.

One of the team’s signature wins that year came in week four over the Houston Texans. The Seahawks were man-handled in the first half and limped into halftime down 20 – 3.  Their offense managed a mere field goal in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter trailing the Texans by a score of 20 – 6.  The Seahawks roared back in the fourth quarter scoring another 14 unanswered points capped off by Richard Sherman’s interception return for a touchdown to tie the game.  They went on to win it in overtime 23 – 20.  The 2013 Seattle Seahawks were known as a team that finished strong, capping off the season with the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

The 2014 Seahawks looked poised to win back to back championships, first by stunning the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game in familiar fashion.  Refusing to give up, the Seahawks came from behind in the fourth quarter, and won with a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse on the first possession of overtime.  Then, in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots, the Seahawks were set up at the one yard line after a miraculous catch by Jermaine Kearse.  They were sitting upon the precipice of yet another come-from-behind victory to become one of the elite NFL franchises to win back to back championships.  All they had to do was give the ball to their work-horse running back Marshawn Lynch and when he scores the go ahead touchdown, fans across the nation could solidify the talk surrounding an NFL dynasty.

This defining moment will become the cornerstone on which their future would be built.

With 20 seconds left in the game, here is the radio call of the next play by Steve Raible:

‘Second down and goal from the one.  Shifts Baldwin over to the left side. Lynch in the backfield.  Russell looks, throws inside… OH MY GOD, IT’S PICKED OFF AT THE GOAL LINE!!!

Also included in that clip was the call of the same play by Patriots announcer Bob Socci (Yeah, as if there wasn’t enough salt in our wounds already…Thanks, Tom).

As history revealed, the Seahawks did not come from behind to beat the Patriots.  They did not hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch.  They did not repeat as Super Bowl Champions.  However, fans across the nation are able to solidify talk of an NFL dynasty:  The New England Patriots.   Unfortunately that defining moment in Super Bowl XLIX has become the cornerstone on which the Seahawks future was built. 

The 2015 Seahawks are a team that can’t finish.

After their home loss to the Carolina Panthers left them with a record of 2 - 4, the title to Adam Schein’s column on says it all, ‘Seattle Seahawks in Disarray: Another Week, Another Meltdown.’  Schein points out that the Seahawks have held second half leads in every game this season and have become a team with a knack for finding ways to lose games. This is not just an impression he has; he backs it up with some telling statistics. The Seahawks vaunted Legion of Boom defense have given up 31 points over the last two weeks in the fourth quarter alone, and have been outscored 61 to 27 in the fourth quarter and overtime this season. 

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s mantra has always been, it doesn’t matter how you start – it’s how you finish that counts.  This axiom was a rallying cry in years past for a team hungry for a championship with a penchant for starting slow and finishing strong.  It is also a potential epitaph for the 2015 team that starts the game well, falters and relinquishes the lead.  Through a combination of bad decisions and poor execution, their inability to finish is all that counts - leaving fans scratching their heads in disbelief at what they are experiencing. 

Finishing is really all that matters in business, too. Your first quarter projection doesn’t matter when stacked up against your first quarter P & L statement. The excitement behind accepting the initial construction bid and timeline is a distant memory when weighed against the current reality of being over-budget and five weeks past the deadline.  Pete is right.  It’s all about how you finish.

Your advertising campaign is an important part of your customer experience because it sets the expectation level for your audience.  But keep in mind that this is just where it all starts.  Think about the successful, ‘Meet me at Starbucks’ advertising campaign which was designed to encourage relational connections in conjunction with their product.  It wasn’t the ad that made the campaign successful – that was just the start.  It was the experience customers enjoyed at the store, the finish, which counted. 

Imagine if the team at Starbucks wanted to encourage potential customers to meet together at their coffee shop but didn’t take the time to create an environment that was conducive to relational connection.  What if there were no tables or chairs. No corner sitting area. No friendly baristas to take your order and chat you up while making your drink. No artwork on the walls. No music.  Just an empty blank space filled with deafening silence. If that was what the customer experienced do you think that would have been a successful campaign? Me either.

It seems ludicrous that a business would invest in an ad campaign yet not pay attention to their actual customer experience. But, unfortunately, it happens all too frequently with businesses just like yours. 

You make substantial advertising investments in order to get customers to contact you.  You start strong. Yet, like the Seahawks, you end up relinquishing that lead.  Why? Potential customers are greeted with a website that hasn’t been changed since the day it was built; a Facebook page where the most recent post was in 2010; and on-hold music that sounds like it has more in common with 70’s porno films than your carefully crafted image. Your competition is on the verge of taking the lead.  Don’t let that happen. 

Take advantage of these game-changing opportunities when your outdoor advertising has paid off and a potential customer has taken the time to call you.  It is at this precise moment where you need to engage your captive audience.  Make sure your on-hold concept is not only up to date, but produced with the exact customer experience you want them to enjoy.  Being placed on hold is so much more than cheesy music with a couple of, ‘Thank you for holdings’ thrown in. Don’t fumble away this opportunity!  On-hold advertising provides the finishing touch to your overall marketing strategy.  It is a truly personal advertising moment where you can tell that one caller exactly what you want them to know about you.  This is a one-on-one match up that you don’t want to slip through your fingers.

Time will tell whether or not the 2015 Seahawks will reclaim their ability to finish. But you don’t have to take a wait-and-see attitude with your business.  I encourage you to take an honest inventory of your online, in-store, and on-hold customer experience.  Then, make the important second half adjustments to your game plan, recapture the lead, and distance yourself from the competition. Above all, finish strong.  Your customers will thank you for it.

Go Hawks!

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee