A rallying call for change

Just a decade ago, I was lucky enough to secure a dream marketing job which saw me working for the Subaru World Rally Team, one of the most iconic motorsport teams in history.

With their distinctive blue and yellow livery, their flamboyant reputation and a host of back-to-back WRC wins for the likes of Colin McRae and Richard Burns, the team and the sport was idolised around the globe.

Such was the excitement around rallying, it was even being seen as a serious contender to Formula One, as the pinnacle of motorsport. And with the old mantra of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’, the vehicle manufacturers sponsoring the big teams had a smile on their faces as well.

But how things have changed.

This weekend sees the dramatic climax to the F1 season. And regardless of whether you consider those behind the wheel to be overpaid prima-donna’s or not, there’s no question that this years’ season has been edge-of-the-seat stuff. There’s been plenty of wheel to wheel action, numerous different race winners, fantastic new TV camera angles, new events and some good old fashioned driver spats to boot.

This brings me back to my starting point. Where did it all go wrong for rallying in the last 10 years? Being completely honest I couldn’t even tell you if this years’ WRC season is over yet! Rally GB passed with merely any mention outside of the specialist press. It’s a far cry from the heady days of the sport in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s when many automotive brands used rallying as one of their primary marketing tools.

So, as I plump the cushions on my sofa in preparation for Sunday afternoon’s F1 finale, there are undoubtedly a number of lessons we can apply to business so we don’t make the same mistakes of the WRC.

  1. Understand your market – what trends are affecting your industry both directly and indirectly? How will behaviours, attitudes and fashions change and affect your business?
  2. Monitor the competition – don’t suffer from marketing myopia. Keep an eye on your direct competitors but also those in other industry’s which could deliver game-changing technology or systems which make your product obsolete overnight.
  3. Avoid complacency – just because something’s popular today, this doesn’t mean it can’t change rapidly. You need to continually seek to be the best.
  4. Don’t be scared to innovate – the same inputs will result in the same outputs so it’s important to adapt your offering to not only stay ahead of the competition, but to meet changing consumer demands
  5. Market your product like crazy! – despite high levels of awareness, it’s essential to keep investing in marketing your product today to ensure its ongoing success tomorrow.

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