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5 Marketing Lessons Training Jiu-jitsu Taught Me

Jiujitsu is actually means “the gentle art” and it was developed by the Samuri to help them defeat larger opponents using leverage instead of force.

Typically my startup clients are smaller companies who have much larger competitors and thanks to the internet the small guys can take on the bigger guys with ease.

By utilizing brains instead of budgets, I’ve helped companies land on the front page of the New York Times, rank #1 in Google and double their sales revenue year after year. Here’s how.

Go With the Flow

There’s 6 billion people on this world currently moving in different directions. Some are searching on google, others are talking to a friend and someone just had an idea. All of these energies, all of these groups are very hard to change.

In marketing you should first take the time to find people who are already heading your direction. People who see the world the way you do, people with similar problems you can solve and you should never spend energy trying to convince people to do things they don’t want to do.

For example if you’re running a coding bootcamp you shouldn’t try to convince people the importance of coding, you should be offering a free experience to help people already trying to learn to code.

In jiujitsu your opponent is going to come at you with some sort of energy. Maybe they grab your leg, maybe they attempt to put you in a choke hold. Whatever they do, it’s your job to react intelligently to give you the highest likelihood of winning.

Marketing today is helping people get what they want and avoiding your time and energy on people who will never move in your product or service’s direction.  

Play Your Game

There will be opponents who are stronger than you, have trained longer than you, and who are extremely intimidating. I’ll never forget the first time I trained Jiujitsu in Yucca Valley outside of Joshua Tree.

I watched half a dozen large men with shaved heads walk into the gym. Great I thought, the Marine base 20 minute away must be their main customer base. To my surprise these guys were large, but knew very little about jiujitsu. With timing and technique on my side I was tapping them out with basic chokes and armbars during each roll.

In marketing your competitors will launch campaigns, products and initiatives that will scare you. Don’t act based on this fear. You’re job is to focus on playing your game, reaching your audience and don’t get stuck playing copycat with a business that’s not yours.

I’ll never forget reading about the location-based battle between Foursquare and Gowalla. The CEO of Gowalla wrote about how these companies competed with one another feature for feature and forgot the big picture of what they were trying to do. Their vision was to help people share their moment with others.

A few years later Instagram executed on this vision and sold for a billion dollars.

Timing is Everything

In jiujitsu if you’re half a second late the move won’t work. Instead of securing an armbar you’ll be left flat on your back with the opponent on top of you. The same goes with marketing, especially during time-sensitive situations like PR crises.

The media covers topics in waves and you have to position yourself in a way to ride those waves as they come and go. Respond to an email a day late and the reporter will probably have already found someone else for your story. Similarly launching a “back to school campaign” may reach your US audience, but it may not resonate with your growing customer base in Australia. The day and time of day you tweet and email will directly influence what your response rate.

Pay attention to timing and be ready to make quick changes based on what you learn from listening to your audience. The quicker your team can respond to changes based on the flow of your audience, the more likely you will be to win with each action you take.

It Doesn’t Have to be Pretty or Perfect Everytime

Yes, looks and brand identity matter and they influence people. There’s also examples of global leaders who have poorly designed websites like Craigslist and Berkshire Hathaway.

Now that’s not to say you should put out marketing material that looks like crap. You should focus on prioritizing activity and forward progress over something being perfect. If you wait for things to be perfect you’ll never ship anything.

If you don’t ship things fast enough you won’t learn quickly from your mistakes and remember you have to move fast. You can always edit something after it goes live, but you’ll never know what your audience thinks until you get feedback from them.

Progress Takes Time

Showing up is 50% of success. The same goes for jiujitsu and marketing. It takes a lot of work to get started in something new like blogging or launching an e-book, but the work eventually pays off.

The same goes for jiujitsu. It’s tough on the ego to show up to a gym everyday, get tapped out repeatedly by opponents and never feel like you’re getting anywhere. It takes about 3-6 months just to begin seeing results in your marketing or jiujitsu efforts.

Sometimes there is an overnight success story, but those are few and far between and they often don’t last for very long. You must invest time and energy each week for marketing or expect to achieve the same results you always have.
They say a Black Belt is simply a White Belt who never gave up. That is one of the most profound and powerful statements as a white belt because when you see these seemingly untouchable God’s on the mat you realize they were once in your shoes and they simply just kept going.

Shout out to the Bali Jiujitsu and MMA Training Camp for helping drill these lessons and many others into my head this month.

Bali jiujitsu classes

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