Guilty of the frantic scramble in your marketing?

FranTarkentonI grew up in Minnesota in the 70s and I love football which meant that back when I was a kid, my world revolved around the Minnesota Vikings and our incredible quarterback, Fran Tarkenton.

At the time of his retirement, Fran owned EVERY major quarterback record out there. Fran was known as The Scrambler because he was famous for being able to pivot and run around in the backfield, dodging defensive players and giving his teammates time to elude a defender or get open for a pass.

He was something to behold. Off the field, he was articulate, intelligent and called a “thinking quarterback.”

I admired him on and off the field. He was a great role model. So no great surprise that when he retired, Fran successfully pursued other professional aspirations, including launching over 20 companies.

Being a scrambling quarterback was really the perfect training ground for Fran’s entrepreneurial efforts. Whether you run a huge corporation or a one man hot dog cart — owning a business is about scrambling for opportunities, dodging disasters and looking down the field, hoping you see the perfect play that will advance your efforts.

Sadly, marketing is never the biggest guy chasing you down. Which is why so many business owners let their marketing slack off or erratically cycle in and out.

Marketing is creating the game plan before the game and then executing it.  Sure, you call an audible now and then and change things up.  But, you mostly follow the plan.  When you plan/execute your marketing well, you can scramble after opportunities.  But you don’t wait until the need for marketing chases you.

Back in the 70s, during halftime and after every game (yes, even in the dead of MN winter), my neighborhood buddies and I would gather in our shared backyards to play a little football. So picture little Drew McLellan, out in the back yard, wearing his #10 Vikings jersey scrambling as I shouted that my teammate should go long. (Who doesn’t love that play?).

Fast forward to today — and I’m excited to tell you that a much older Drew McLellan got to be a guest on Fran Tarkenton’s radio show, aimed at entrepreneurs.  (listen to the segment by clicking here)

How cool is that? We talked about some of the challenges that business owners/leaders face when it comes to marketing, like:

  1. Marketing is not part of their daily routine — so they cycle. Go like crazy when things are slow and then do nothing when they’re flush. If the dry spell is too long, they go out of business.
  2. Chasing after new business and ignoring existing customers (spend time/money in the exact wrong way — it should be spent on employees, current customers and then prospects not the other way around).
  3. Marketing is too self centered/focused. Way too much me/we and not enough focus on the customers’ needs.
  4. Try to do too many different marketing tactics all at once and don’t do any of them for a long enough period of time or with enough depth. Better to do fewer but do them better.
  5. Business owners need an outside perspective. Why/how is their business different/unique? What is the value proposition that only they can offer? But they can’t figure it out on their own. It’s like trying to describe the outside of a bottle — if you are inside it. Can’t unknown what you know.

Are you suffering from any of those mistakes?  Are you so busy scrambling that you’re applying the same philosophy to your marketing?

Create a marketing game plan and follow it.  Leave the scrambling to other aspects of running your business.

Want to listen to Fran and I chatting about business?  You can listen to the live broadcast of the show this Saturday (June 8th) at 8-10 am CT or 3-5 pm CT on Sirius 104. Or you can listen on demand at  Get more details here on Fran’s radio show page.  Once I get the mp3 of the show, I’ll add it to this post as well.

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8 comments on “Guilty of the frantic scramble in your marketing?

  1. Very cool experience, Drew! Your football analogy hits on a message I’m getting a lot lately: the importance of having a plan, but also being flexible enough to adapt when necessary. Thanks for the reminder.

    Fran Tarkenton was definitely a household name growing up in MN – even for a (gasp) non-football-fan! I look forward to hearing your interview.

  2. Alec says:

    Wow, that’s amazing that you were on the Fran Tarkenton show, Drew. As you point out, Fran Tarkenton is a living legend. There have been some great quarterbacks but perhaps Tarkenton was the best ever. Bud Grant said in 1986, there was never anyone better.

    Great that he’s been able to go on to a second career. And how fabulous for you to be a part of it.

  3. Evan Norton says:

    Great post. IMO, the first two mistakes listed here are perhaps the most dangerous. The first is pure laziness that brings about a slow death while the second is a very inefficient way of maintaining your customer base.

  4. I feel like 3 and 4 are way too common. For 3, as a company, it’s easy to forget that the customer has many needs. For example, this article – – mentions how companies misuse social media by promoting too much and not informing enough (and ignoring consumer needs in the process).

    Classic self-centered marketing. It’s important to have balance for any relationship – whether its B2C, B2B, or a significant other. Very cool article, Drew!

  5. “Sadly, marketing is never the biggest guy chasing you down. Which is why so many business owners let their marketing slack off or erratically cycle in and out.” – Love this line. Can I use this in a presentation if I give proper credit?

  6. Ashley says:

    I really liked how you compared marketing to football. You brought up some good points about having a marketing plan and sticking with it, even if you do go through some dry periods.

  7. Jaizenstros says:

    Internet marketing can be a good option for those who want a new business or want to expand on their business. While there might have a lot of useful information about internet marketing online, wading through the information may be overwhelming. This article is meant to provide you sort through this confusion with some succinct tips.

  8. GS&F says:

    I think most of us, especially in the agency world fall into the trap of#2. We’re always trying to chase new business and get that next lead that we sometimes forget to service our clients that got us to a comfortable position in the first place.

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