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As I sit here, with my body still recovering 2 days after Sunday’s London Marathon, I’ve been reflecting on the similarities between life in marketing and running a marathon so have deiced to jot down a few comparisons.

1. You need to get your name out there

I was one of 38,000 people running the marathon. For about 5 miles or so I was running alongside a guy called Geoff. I did not know Geoff, but I knew his name as he had written it on his bright pink running shirt and the crowd were shouting it out A LOT!

In business we too need to cut through the crowd (we all know there are hundreds of brands, there are also 25,000 marketing agencies in the UK alone!) so whether it is marketing ourselves or our clients we need to get our names out there and in peoples minds, just like the runners who dressed up for their chosen charities and just like Geoff, who certainly did this too.

2.You need to be agile and realign your goals if necessary

My overall goal for the marathon was to finish, however I originally wanted a time around three and a half hours and, as a marathon virgin, by mile 13 I was well on the way. Then, by mile 18 the wall hit. More than it ever did in training. My body appeared to want to fall apart. At this point my strategy then changed to solely getting across the finish line which I did in a little over 4 hours.

Life in the marketing business it is no different. A crisis can hit at any time whether it is a global financial crash, a PR disaster or something more internal like a member of staff or client leaving. You have to be ready to adapt to change and re-focus quickly. It’s the only way to succeed.

3. It is definitely a marathon not a sprint

I know everyone says this but it really is true and in marketing it’s no different; you need to have a long term mentally. Quick wins are great but it skews things and in the long run is not a guaranteed measure of success.

To have successful, long term growth you need to set the foundations in place. As much as it’s about meeting revenue targets or shareholders’ expectations, it’s also about making sure you have a purpose* (see Sally Cowdry’s article on purpose) and keeping this purpose consistently front of mind over a prolonged period of time so when the consumer comes to choose, they choose you. It also helps to stay fresh and make sure you have the tools to get you through when you hit the business equivalent of the wall. Only then will you reap the benefits.

The moral of the story?

Marathons are tough and marketing is not much easier, but if you make sure you have everything in place then no matter how hard things get you will always succeed.

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