Five Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn from World-Class Athletes

Gerri Knilans
3 min readFeb 6


Grit. Determination. Strength. These are just a few traits that come to mind when we think of world-class athletes. While B2B marketers might have little in common with champion athletes on the surface, we can learn several valuable lessons from their secrets to success. Here are five qualities marketers can apply to their own work to achieve first-rate results.

1. World-Class Athletes Set Goals

Leading athletes don’t become the greatest in the world and set groundbreaking records by chance. They create a long-term plan, establish clear goals, and have a solid, documented strategy with concrete tactics to achieve those goals. The most successful B2B marketers don’t generate results by chance, either. They have a documented marketing strategy with specific, tangible tactics to reach their goals. As the saying goes, a failure to plan is a surefire plan for failure. Both champion athletes and winning B2B marketers know that they will fail without documented goals.

2. Top Athletes Learn From the Best

Every successful athlete has a role model in their sport they aspire to emulate. Likewise, marketers should look to others in their field for inspiration. Identify marketing leaders and brands you look up to and learn how to model their behavior. Observe their skills and accomplishments. What kind of behaviors, habits, and qualities does a successful B2B marketer in your industry have? In what ways can you imitate them? What skills do you need to develop to get you to their level? Surround yourself with marketers who can do what you can’t (yet). You might be surprised at what you can accomplish by learning from the best in your field.

3. Leading Athletes Keep Score

World-class athletes know that the best way to improve their performance is by keeping close track of their statistics, reviewing the data, measuring progress, and making necessary adjustments. Marketers need to keep score of their own performance as well. To be successful, closely measure the “score,” or data, of marketing efforts and make modifications as needed. Marketing is an ever-changing arena, and there are many different metrics to consider. What should you be monitoring? Here are a few tips to get you started.

4. Champion Athlete Aren’t Afraid to Lose

When marketers see significant results from their marketing campaigns, the feeling can be similar to what athletes feel when winning the big game. But, in life and sports, we don’t always win. Even Olympic gold medalists have faced and experienced failure hundreds of times. Top athletes recognize the value in losing and know it is where they experience the most growth. As marketers, the possibility of failure shouldn’t be scary. Look at a failed marketing tactic or a campaign with lackluster results as an opportunity to refine your work and identify ways to execute better the next time. If you’re hesitant about trying something new for fear that it won’t work, you’ll never win. Athletes aren’t afraid to lose, and B2B marketers shouldn’t be either!

5. World-Class Athletes Are Coachable

Every top athlete has a coach, often more than one. They listen to and learn from their trainers and apply the lessons they learn to their performance on the field. As a marketer, your coachability could make or break your success. If your “coach” or manager doesn’t give you consistent feedback-ask for it! Awareness of strengths and weaknesses can help you overcome obstacles and improve performance. Also, don’t be afraid to seek feedback from others including input from colleagues from other departments, former coworkers, or even competitors. Their input might inspire your next successful campaign.

The Thrill of Competition

Just like athletes, marketers thrive (and rely) on competition, using it as motivation to sharpen their own skills and game. Yet, regardless of our efforts, there are times we will win and times we will lose. The most successful athletes and marketers have the persistence and resilience needed to get back up again and keep going, even in the face of failure. This fighting spirit and drive to succeed push marketers to continually improve. No matter what level of personal and professional success you have achieved, there is always room for improvement. To learn more about how you can out-score the competition, schedule a call with one of our experts today.

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Gerri Knilans

Marketing communications strategist. The right message. The right medium. Guaranteed.