Are You Marketing Your Business Like a Champion?

Above, you’ll see two men. One is a novice. He’s had less than 20 professional fights. His upcoming bout against Wladimir Klitschko will be the first time he’s fought anyone of note. He owns a “championship” belt that’s not worth the pleather it’s made out of. The media laud him as the saviour of boxing, he’s a regular topic of conversation in my local pub, and I’ve never missed one of his fights.

The other is still technically the unbeaten lineal heavyweight champion of the world. He dethroned the man who held a number of belts for a decade. He’s incredibly talented, regularly funny, and hardly anyone has a good word to say about him.

It’s got nothing to do with boxing. It’s all to do with marketing. Because it’s not always about how good you are. It’s usually about how you sell your business.

Three Steps to Becoming a Marketing Champion

If you don’t want your business to be beaten into submission by a selection of slick, polished challengers, it’s time to fire up the inspirational montage music and start marketing your business like a champion. These three steps will be a good start.

1: Look the Part

Go back to that picture at the top. Which of those looks like he’s the number one boxer in the heavyweight division? Is it the slightly soft looking bald chap with the goofy grin, or the sculpted Adonis with the eight-pack? Surprisingly, it’s the infamously portly Tyson Fury who’s the top of the tree. But if you don’t know that, you’re going to assume that Anthony Joshua’s hours in the gym have translated into unbeatable success.

It’s the same with businesses. Going back to my time at school, we used to nip over the road to the local sandwich shop. Huge portions, low prices, home-made fillings and a slightly shabby exterior. When Subway rolled into town with higher prices, smaller sandwiches and a slick global marketing campaign, the butty shop didn’t stand a chance.

Sure, we knew where to go for the best sausage and egg barm in Salford, but those new kids starting in September took one look at the faded vinyl signs and decided to “Eat Fresh™.”

That’s because being good at what you do only matters once you’ve made the sale. If you don’t look like you know what you’re doing, even word-of-mouth is going to have a hard time getting past those initial objections.

How to Look the Part: Professional polish is the order of the day. That means high quality signage for your bricks-and-mortar business, a website designed by an expert and (naturally) high-quality content that speaks to your audience while pushing your champion pedigree.

2: Avoid Controversy

If you’ve heard of Tyson Fury and you’re not a boxing fan, it’s probably because the guy’s a loud-mouthed berk. After being nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2015, Tyson celebrated by going on an ill-judged spree of offensive comments. Equating homosexuality to paedophilia, sexist comments straight from the 1950s, refusing to apologise – it’s not really any wonder that Fury found himself soundly beaten by Andy Murray (a man who’s a stranger to both controversy and charisma).

In contrast, media darling AJ has followed up his Olympics triumph in 2012 with five years of “#stayhumble” and sound bites about still living in his mum’s Watford flat. Whether or not the world-famous multi-millionaire actually lives in his mum’s spare room is by the by. The narrative’s stuck and Joshua is uniformly viewed as a nice guy (criminal past notwithstanding).

It’d be nice to say that the negative press generated by Fury’s controversial comments made businesses everywhere take stock of what they said on Twitter. But it didn’t. The months and years since have seen a deluge of poorly planned and controversial comments trying to cash in on news stories, and that doesn’t seem likely to stop any time soon.


How to Avoid Controversy: Think, and show restraint. Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to do a hot take to leverage a developing news story. But that speed makes it easy to make stupid mistakes. Take ten minutes to consider the following question. “Is this ad/Tweet/post going to end up in a Buzzfeed article painting my company as a gaggle of heartless opportunists?” If there’s a decent risk of that answer being yes, just spike the ad. Oh, and steer clear of dead musicians.

3: Deliver on Your Promises

An Anthony Joshua pre-fight press conference goes a little like this:

  • Platitude about respecting the opponent
  • Comment about still learning his trade
  • Humblebrag about hours in the gym
  • Promise of an explosive fight

An Anthony Joshua fight then goes a little bit like this:

  • Bell rings
  • AJ punches his opponent repeatedly in the face
  • The opponent has a little lie down while he re-thinks his career choice.
  • The crowd goes wild

A Tyson Fury pre-fight press conference is a little stranger:

  • Late entrance dressed as Batman
  • Swearing about a lack of respect/Fury’s own skill
  • Threats of GBH
  • Promise of an early, potentially fatal knockout

Then the fight happens, and it’s usually along these lines:

  • Bell rings
  • 12 rounds of jabbing, weaving and clinching
  • Fury wins on points
  • Casual fans complain about the fight being boring

Both of those fighters win their fights. Fury wins his against much tougher opponents. But because he doesn’t deliver on that promise of an early victory, his win seems cheapened in the eyes of the paying customers.

It’s all too easy to over promise with your business too. And the end result will be exactly the same. Even though you’ll have achieved the desired result for your client, if it doesn’t live up to your spectacular pre-purchase pitch, they’ll feel somehow cheated.

How to Deliver: Manage your customers’ expectations. If you’re selling cheap, filling sandwiches, don’t advertise Michelin star cuisine. If you specialise in something functional and reliable, don’t pitch your product like a high-end luxury status symbol. Focus on the actual results your clients get, and remember to sweeten your pitch with some honest social proof of your business in action.

Put the Three-Punch Combo into Action

Look professional, don’t be stupid and deliver the goods. 1-2-3. If your business is delivering combinations like that, it’ll be hard for the opposition to withstand your marketing punch. Just remember, boxers pay for the best trainers, the best equipment and the best gyms. So if you’re planning on coming out swinging, make sure you invest in the best marketing your business can afford.

Just like a hard body shot in a title fight, it’ll pay off hugely in a few rounds time.

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