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June 2007

What Marketers and Triatheletes Have In Common: Mastering Multiple Disciplines

Last weekend I was in New Hampshire, cheering on friends at the Mooseman Triathalon.    Despite the common "0% body fat" triathelete image, the range of competitors of all ages and body types was truly inspiring. 

Moosemanweb2Perhaps Triathalons are intimidating to the rest of us because of the range of comptency -- mastering one sport seems doable, but three? 

Zero body fat may be limited to models and athletes, but mastery across multiple disciplines is not.   Good marketers must master multiple disciplines between sales and product development:  public relations, demand generation, market research, product marketing, field marketing, market strategy.   Yet since marketing is such a broad science, it's tempting to specialize and stay in one's silo.   

Why bother to master more than one discipline?  They're all linked to each other.    Why are lead conversion rates falling off?   is it the media?  the message? the market?   If demand generation is the only set of tools in your toolbox, there's no way to know (and no way to fix the problem on the spot).   Why is the sales team discounting every deal?   If you don't have a sense of the competitive environment, you won't know whether to lower prices or to provide your salespeople with a stronger value proposition.   

Mastering new skills can prove risky, but being a one-trick-pony in a changing environment could prove even riskier.