Aug 15, 2016 / by Jim Dougherty

“What matters more if you want to build a great soccer team, how good your best player is or how good your worst player is? ….in soccer what matters is how good your worst player is.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History, episode 6 “My Little Hundred Million”

In episode 6 of his podcast Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell reflects on the different ways professional soccer and basketball teams are structured.

Drawing on work from economists David Sally and Chris Anderson, Gladwell explains that the sport of soccer is so collaborative the weakest player on the team can diminish the overall team success. In contrast, an entire basketball team can be carried entirely on the back of a great player like Michael Jordan or LeBron James.

Gladwell describes this as the weak link (soccer) versus strong link (basketball) strategies.

Unfortunately, Sally says that some soccer club owners and managers opt to spend money solely on superstars, even though they’d increase their likelihood of winning by allocating money across three or four “really good” players.

So what does this have to do with marketing and PR?

Demand Metric Research recently published a survey called the 2016 State of Digital Marketing, which made the following assertions:

  • 75% of respondents identify email and events as “the most effective marketing tactics”
  • Email newsletters are the most used digital marketing approach among respondents


Looking at the above stats, it may be tempting to drop the lion’s share of your budget into email.

Not so fast.

“Today’s buyers are exhibiting a high degree of cross-channel behavior – particularly in mobile, where 80% of time is spent in apps,” says Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing at Cision and PR Newswire, in the article How to Map Your Marketing Content for Multichannel Promotion.

“To drive demand for your business, you can’t limit buyer exposure to your owned channels.  You need to progressively interact with them in context using a synchronized mix of earned, owned and paid media based on consumption preferences.”

Your marketing success can’t rest solely on one tactic. For instance, if email is your strategy’s strongest link, you’ll only continue to grow its impact by using other channels to promote email opt-ins and attract more engaged leads.

Amazon is an example of a company that utilizes this tactic well, migrating social care from platforms like Facebook and Twitter to email. Moreover, Facebook and Twitter realize that there is opportunity in email, and have products that allow you to gather emails directly from their platforms. The Twitter Lead Gen Card and Facebook Lead Gen Ads are paid options to have users subscribe to your emails directly from a social platform.

It’s easy to only see “the unbelievably beautiful goals” in a soccer game, says Sally; however, “the seven maybe less glamorous passes that set up that eighth beautiful through-ball may have been equally as important.”

Don’t look at your communications channels as standalone services with independent endpoints. Leverage their collective power to more efficiently communicate with and convert prospects.


Images via Pixabay: 1

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About Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty is a featured contributor to the Cision Blog and his own blog, leaderswest. His areas of interest include statistics, technology, and content marketing. When not writing, he is likely reading, running, playing guitar or being a dad. PRSA member. Find him on Twitter @jimdougherty.