We don’t know who will win the Super Bowl or the Iowa Caucuses, but we can predict this: The next few weeks will see record use by both political and football pundits of this term: “ground game.” It happens every two years–but especially every four, during a Presidential election year. Here’s why and what a small business can learn from it.

Ground Game: The football term

In football (the American kind), sports commentators use “ground game” to describe a team’s offensive strategy that focuses on running a few yards each play while avoiding fumbles. A good ground game can be an effective game plan, but it can also make for a boring game for fans who love seeing a 40-yard spiraling pass being caught one-handed by a leaping wide receiver. Most fans don’t watch the center, guards, tackles and tight ends who grind out play after play in order to carry-out an effective ground game. It is their hard, but under-appreciated, work that enables a running back to gain a few yards towards the next first down.

Ground Game: The presidential primary metaphor


The Google Trends spike of the term that happens every other year (see chart) is not caused by football games, rather by political pundits borrowing it as a metaphor for the difficult chores necessary to get a candidate’s supporters to actually vote. In politics, a “ground game” has become more and more important because traditional advertising and politicking has devolved into a continuous series of claims and counterclaims that attempt to blame all the world’s ills on the other candidates. In politics, “ground game” means making thousands of phone calls and knocking on thousands of front doors to find out who your supporters are. A good ground game in politics means knowing what supporters need rides to a caucus or polling location on election day and making sure you have enough volunteers to pick them all up.

Keys to a solid small business ground game

Running a small business also requires executing an effective ground game. You must focus on things that may seem small or unimportant. But as the TV football analysts and political pundits will repeat dozens of times during coverage of the Super Bowl or Iowa Caucus, the “game is won in the trenches” where it’s all about “blocking and tackling.”

Here are just some of what it means to have an effective small business ground game:

  • (A solid small business ground game means)…Focusing on consistently superior customer service and communications that creates loyal customers and inspires them tell others about you.
  • …Saying in touch, keeping up with what your customers are talking about
  • …Staying aware of developments that may be keeping customers away from your store and adjusting to address the problem.
  • …Staying focused on helping customers better use your product.
  • …Optimizing your online presence to make it easy for customers to let you know what they need.

Your small business ground game may not be the most exciting or appreciated thing you do, but it’s where the game is won or lost.

via: Effective Marketing Requires a Great Ground Game, Hammock.com

Illustration from photo via MediaWiki Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Door knocking photo via ThinkStock

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