The Super Bowl is just around the corner. But instead of discussing Richard Sherman’s elbow sprain or Tom Brady’s potential fourth Super Bowl ring, all of the attention has been around “Deflategate”—allegations that the New England Patriots intentionally deflated the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
I mentioned the upcoming game during an interview with Sergio Balegno—the CEO of Ascend2 and a Patriots fan. In his mind, the Patriots are in a lose-lose situation: If the Patriots win, people are going to say it’s because the team cheated. If the team loses, people are going to say it’s because the team couldn’t cheat.
No brand ever wants to find itself in a lose-lose situation, or face this kind of animosity from the public. So, here are five pitfalls marketers should avoid that could otherwise result in a deflated marketing strategy.
A lack of interdepartmental communication is never a good thing—just ask Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the equipment managers (and now maybe the locker room attendant?). Indeed, working in silos can result in delayed work flow, confusion, repetitive processes, and gaps in information.
2. Only looking at data that supports your theories
When Bill Belichick revealed the results from the Patriots’ study a few days ago, it appeared as though atmospheric conditions were indeed the cause of the deflated footballs—that is until Bill Nye the Science Guy and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson disproved his theories.
Marketers should always use data to back up their calls. However, it’s vital that they look at all of the data available—not just the information that supports their claims. In fact, finding data that disproves a theory can be just as valuable as uncovering data that favors it.
3. Lack of attribution
This whole Deflategate dilemma is the result of a lack of attribution: No one knows (or will admit) who had the footballs last.
Marketers often struggle with attribution themselves. Failing to connect the dots prevents marketers from identifying problems or crediting successes. Instead, all they have left is the blame game—and in this game, there are no winners.
4. Poor communication
When Bill Belichick took the podium at the initial Deflategate press conference, the entire football community expected answers. Instead, all they got were a bunch of “I told you everything I know” responses—thus heightening the skepticism surrounding the controversy.
Like those inquisitive football fans, customers expect answers when a brand messes up. Whether it’s a monumental data breach or a single missing package, customers want brands to inform them on the severity of the problem, how it happened, and what the brand is going to do to fix it. Being transparent with customers and updating them frequently helps maintain customer trust.
5. Giving in to external distractions
If the Patriots devote all of their attention to disproving Deflategate, then they won’t be able to concentrate on gearing up for the big game and their lack of focus will be their own demise. But while Deflategate may be a nightmare for the Patriots, it’s a dream scenario for the Seahawks. With all of the media attention on the controversy, hardly anyone is asking about the Seahawks’ injuries or preparation for the game. All the Seattle-based team has to do is keep their heads down and stay focused.
Likewise, it’s important for marketers to keep their overall business objectives in mind and not let hype around shiny objects, industry drama, or internal setbacks distract them from achieving their goals. There’s so much in this industry that marketers can’t control; it’s important to home in on the things they can.