Goalie (user experience)
To win, your user experience needs to be OK, at the very least. You can think of a goalkeeper in soccer as the guardian of user experience. A poor experience makes it easy for the competition to move ahead quickly. If you substitute your product (goalkeeper) for an inferior one you may get away with it against weak competition, but you’ll quickly suffer when facing stiffer competition.
Defenders (product innovation)
The best way to defend your market position is to be vigilant, agile and innovative. When a competitor attacks, you need to be quick to defend your territory with a clever manoeuvre (e.g. a product enhancement) or brute force, if necessary (e.g. outspend them in advertising). Your back four must have the strength, agility and talent to tackle whatever competitors throw at you. And you’ll need players on the bench (i.e. innovative new products) fit and ready to come on the field as soon as they’re needed.
Mid-fielders (brand building)
If you want to win, your midfielders will need to lay the groundwork (brand building). The more creative they are, the better. Their job is to provide opportunities to win – passing the ball towards the goal, giving one of your attackers the chance to put the ball in the net. The trouble is, your competitors will always hustle to take the ball off you - and they’ll often succeed. To create scoring opportunities you’ll need to pass the ball fluidly from one player to another (e.g. between your brand advertising, website, product reviews etc. your wingers), before passing to one of your strikers.
With the best soccer teams, the centre-forward simply needs to hang around the opponent’s goal, waiting for the perfect ball, before driving it into the net. Michael Owen scored 158 goals for Liverpool this way. This is how sales activation works. If people are predisposed to buying a brand, it doesn’t take much close to the point of sale to seal the deal (score the goal – please keep up!).
The best soccer teams in history succeeded thanks to teamwork. Think of Shilton/Waddle/Lineker (help! I need more up-to-date examples!!) in 1990. Few teams win if they let in an own goal, so you need a decent goalie (good user experience). Midfielders rarely get the ball if the defence is poor (weak innovation). The best strikers in the world (sales activation) will find it hard to score goals if they don’t receive good balls from midfield (brand building). Back in the 1990, I remember the combination of Peter Shilton (goalie/user experience), Chris Waddle (midfielder/brand building) and Gary Lineker (striker/sales activation). The team didn’t win the World Cup but that’s OK. I’ve come to terms with that. Brands can grow revenue and profit without ever becoming market leader. But there is always hope. Roll on 2026!!
See also 'The Marketing Mix Eye'.