5 Sep

4 things soccer teaches us about marketing (and how it can make us better communicators)

By Becky Fickenworth


One day a few years ago, I realized I’d become something I’d never intentionally set out to be – a Soccer Mom. It’s tough not to become one when you have three boys who started playing soccer at age 4, two of whom will play soccer in college next year. Go Polar Bears! Go Muskies! (Son #3 switched to football in middle school because he realized that he didn’t like to run – I couldn’t disagree with his logic.)


Like any other sport, soccer has a language of its own. When I first heard people who know a lot more about soccer than me yelling words like, “Switch!”, “Unlucky!” and “Man on!” I thought, “Boy, have I got a lot to learn.” Now, after watching my boys play in hundreds of soccer games all over the country and then in our spare time going to more soccer (Go FC Cincinnati!), I’ve come to realize there are valuable lessons that can be applied from the beautiful game to life at Rasor Marketing Communications.


Unlucky! This phrase initially struck me as a little odd. It’s used when what looked like a great opportunity to score or defend goes awry, whether by the skill of an opposing player, a strong wind or an odd bump on the field. In my mind, the flipside of saying, “Unlucky!” when something doesn’t go your way means yelling “Lucky!” when something does. But that discounts the skill and preparation it takes to play the game. I soon figured out that by yelling, “Unlucky!”, it really means, “OK, it wasn’t meant to be. Forget about it, keep playing and try it again.” I’ve now come to think that’s a great lesson for us all. When that new business opportunity doesn’t come through or the client chooses not to take your wise counsel, just tell yourself, “Unlucky.” Don’t dwell on it. Think of another way to make it happen or move on to the next opportunity.


Switch! You’ll hear this being yelled at a player on one side of the field who has the ball, encouraging her to kick the ball to her wide-open teammate on the opposite side of the field. The hope is that the open player has room to maneuver the ball closer to the goal while the other team is shifting their players to cover a different part of the field. At Rasor, I like to think that we recognize when we need to take a different approach to stay ahead of the competition or shift our thinking to stay on top of industry innovations.


Cross – Definition: passing the ball from either side of the field toward the middle, usually right in front of the goal to hopefully lead to a score. I love this because when it works, it’s a thing of beauty and it’s a selfless act. The passer is setting up his teammate to score and giving up the opportunity to score himself. At work, we need to set up our teammates for success, whether that means giving them an encouraging word, asking questions to help them grow or giving them direct and authentic feedback.


Man On! The call a player makes to a teammate with the ball who may not be aware they’re being closed in by an opposing player, so they can protect the ball or pass it off to an unguarded teammate. Helping our workmates not be blindsided – sharing information and providing wise counsel – is the business version of “Man On!”


All those hours watching my boys on the pitch has not only given me great pleasure but given me plenty of time to think about how life lessons are transferable from a sport to the office. What do you love about the beautiful game?