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BELIEVE: Essential Marketing Lessons From Ted Lasso

It’s hard not to love Ted Lasso, the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ show about an American Football coach who moves to the UK to lead a middling soccer (or, as the rest of the world calls it: football) team. Now in its second season, the show is an endless fount of positivity thanks to actor Jason Sudeikis’ tirelessly optimistic portrayal of the title character. In addition to the weekly dose of joy and humor, the mustachioed coach and his compadres often dish out words of wisdom that almost anyone should be able to appreciate — even marketing pros.

Lesson #1: Don’t be afraid to try something new

The entire premise of Ted Lasso has Ted and his BFF, Assistant Coach Beard, leaving behind the lives they knew to start over on a whole new continent (some might say, an island). In Kansas, Lasso and Beard were well-known, comfortable, and successful. However, when given the opportunity to coach British Premier League soccer — a sport with which Lasso isn’t familiar — they pack up and go. They arrive in London jet-lagged and hopelessly unprepared for what comes next, but they embrace the experience anyway.

So what can marketers learn from this? Simple: sometimes changing it up is exactly what you need. Sure, your last campaign may have exceeded expectations, but how many times can you repeat the same formula before getting left behind? You can’t move forward by clinging to the past, so don’t be afraid to step into unfamiliar territory and experiment, whether that means embracing new platforms or testing different ad formats.

And if doesn’t work out? Be transparent with your prospects/followers/customers. Not shying away from adversity is highly appreciated.

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Lesson #2: Be curious, not judgmental

Even though Ted mistakenly attributes the quote “Be curious, not judgmental” to Walt Whitman in the show, that doesn’t affect its relevance. Ted uses it as a mantra, and it fuels his positive outlook (and makes it easier to ignore those who judge him). As he puts it, “Guys have underestimated me my entire life… All them fellas who used to belittle me, not a single one of them was curious. You know, they thought they had everything figured out.”

While marketers may not be dealing with schoolyard bullies or disgruntled ex-Premier League owners like Ted was, this mantra can help them, too. “Be curious, not judgmental” ties into lesson #1: part of embracing change is being open to whatever else is out there. Be curious about new marketing trends, new data points, or other hints and assumptions, rather than dismissing them out of hand — you never know what you’ll find when you dig a little deeper.

Lesson #3: Data isn’t destiny

When it came to the last game of season one, Ted’s AFC Richmond team was hopelessly outmatched. Hard data indicated that a devastating loss was inevitable, and the AFC coaching team argued about how to respond. Did they give up and accept defeat? Of course not! Ted, Beard, and Coach Nate went back to the drawing board, crafting a new plan from scratch and defying expectations. This strategy invigorated the players, befuddled their opponents, and gave AFC Richmond a fighting chance.

Marketers deal with a lot of information — demographics, performance, likes, shares, engagement, video completions, sales, not to mention attribution (!), and almost too many other points to name. Being able to understand and analyze these endless streams of data is a critical part of marketing, which means data is absolutely critical. That said, it doesn’t solely determine your destiny. If the data isn’t showing you the results you want to see, you’re not doomed; you just need to go back to the board and come up with your own Lasso special.

Of course, those who’ve watched Ted Lasso know that most of his philosophies can be summed up in a single word: Believe. Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, believe in the power of possibility. And, above all, believe in people and relationships. The rest will usually fall into place.

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