In case you lived under a rock this past year, it was quite the year for the United States women’s soccer team. They won their first World Cup since the epic 1999 win, in no small part thanks to Abby Wambach, who recently retired after 14 years of professional soccer.
As the leader of the team for more than a decade, Wambach has quite the résumé. She set many records, including the most international goals for any man or woman, and won two Olympic gold medals, one World Cup gold medal, and 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year. An astonishing career that came to an end just a few weeks ago when she played her last career match.
What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Wambach’s retirement got me thinking about how I could apply her determination, leadership style, and successes to my own career. The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are quite a few lessons marketers can learn from her:
Just do it, even if it hasn’t been done before
Yes, that’s a Nike pun—I hope you enjoyed it. Wambach led the charge for women’s soccer, helping her team become the first to win World Cup gold three times. She scored more goals than any man or woman in the world, and she played a huge role in creating respect for the women’s game across the world, especially in the US. So, if you have a great idea for a campaign, but it’s not something that’s been done before, just do it. Great success comes from those who do what has never been done before.
Never give up
It took Wambach four World Cups and 12 years to finally win the gold medal she’d been dreaming of (in 2015 at the age of 35). She could easily have given up years before, but she hung on until she got the result she wanted. If you’re not getting the results you want from your marketing efforts, keep trying. Find ways to make yourself better every day, and you’ll get the results you’re after.
Have a voice
Wambach made a lot of headlines in 2015, and not only for her play on the field. For the first time, the World Cup was set to be played on turf. The women participating in the tournament knew that the men’s team would never have been asked to play on this inferior surface. Wambach took charge, drawing attention to this important issue and inequity. Although the tournament was still played on turf in the end, her effort was widely publicized. Your marketing content shouldn’t always be fluff pieces based on topics you think people want to read about. It should be substantive thought leadership written in your true voice.
Lead by example
At the heart of every great team is a great leader, and for US women’s soccer, that was Wambach. As a captain, she always led the team by example and favored actions over words. Similarly, every great marketing team needs an outstanding leader at the helm.
Celebrate in style
This may be the most valuable lesson we can learn from Wambach. The 12- year drought without a World Cup victory made the win in 2015 that much sweeter. Wambach celebrated, and she celebrated hard. After her last match a few weeks ago, Wambach gave a heartfelt speech to her fans, literally dropped the mic, and went out on Bourbon street in New Orleans. As marketers, we’re always putting in extra effort to make sure our campaigns and content are winning new customers. So after a big win, don’t forget to celebrate to remind yourself what all that hard work is for.
There may not be a World Cup for marketers, but there is always a big goal we’re working toward, whether it’s more leads, better content, or stronger social engagement. Take these life lessons from Wambach, and you’ll be that much closer to winning the gold.