Report From Philly: Swing for the Fences and You Will Succeed

How Winning in Sports Rubs Off in the Workplace

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Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
"World F*#@ing Champions!"

At least that is how Chase Utley so aptly put it after my hometown Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series in 28 years last week. We take our sports seriously in Philly; that is how we earned our reputation as a tough town to play in. But ask any member of the Phillies if they would trade playing here for any other city in America, and I highly doubt they would. More than 2 million people -- a sea of red -- turned out to salute our champions on a sunny Halloween afternoon. Truly remarkable.

So what does this have to do with running a better marketing agency? Plenty.

Winning is intoxicating and changes attitudes. Winning drives revenue (just ask the mayor of Philly what kind of positive financial impact the team has had on the city the last few weeks). And winning is a reminder of what it takes to succeed, whether on the ball field or in the boardroom.

Here are a few thoughts on the parallel worlds of sports and business:

The Pitch: Cole Hamels was named MVP of the World Series because he delivered heat in the clutch. In the agency business, it is no different. Pitches in our business are legendary, and if we practice hard and come prepared, when the stage is ours, we, too, can land the big win.

Team: Championships often come to a group of talented individuals who come together for a common purpose. Groups that lose sometimes have even more individual talent but have allowed superstars to destroy a unified approach. Same in our industry. We talk about collaboration, but it will only take place when team members like and respect each other, and when management is smart enough to bring them together and align their goals. Agencies where copywriters, public relations experts, digital designers, brand strategists and account executives sit alongside each other and create together will succeed first for themselves and then ultimately for their clients. Those are the agencies that win year after year.

The Home Run: It's the most exciting hit in baseball, and it is also crucial in an advertising or PR agency. Ideas must be home runs. The bigger, the further out, the better. That is the capital that agencies will always hold over other marketing alternatives, such as in-house resources, or simply minor-league talent. So always swing for the fences, and I promise you will succeed.

The Manager: Good managers/coaches who really know their players make smarter decisions. They put their players in a position to score by playing to their strengths. Managers in agencies are no different. Matching personality types, professional strengths, experiences and personal interests of your agency team with the right clients/brands, along with the right internal team, creates a winning formula. For instance, if you know one of your senior account supervisors has a passion for Far East travel, doesn't it make sense to put that individual on the agency's new Singapore Tourism account? It's having a knack for playing to people's strengths, which often results in better work and results.

The Celebration: There's nothing like a victory parade. I was very fortunate to be able to take my kids to it on Friday -- it is a sight some people will never see again. And the feeling is truly intoxicating. As the Phillies star Ryan Howard said from the podium, "This celebration is just incredible. And I plan to win again and again and again, so we can all party like this again, and again and again!"

Victory celebrations in our business come in the form of new campaigns that make people talk and cash registers ring. And some of the biggest celebrations result from beating your competitors for a very big and high-profile client. The only difference is that in baseball, champagne sprays at team members wearing goggles; in agencies, champagne corks pop, too, but we have to lose the goggles. Looks silly.
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