Tim Tebow may be the most talked about sports figure on the face of the planet. At 6’ 3” and 240 lbs, Tebow transcends his already formidable figure and his reach seems to have no bounds. Tebow has invented the act of “Tebowing,” where one gets down on one knee and prays. This act has inspired others to take up the same pose and motivated others to create websites surrounding this pose. Websites such as timtebowfans.org and tebowseyeblack.com have sprung up in his honor as well.
More recently, the quarterback has lit up Twitter and Facebook at record levels, doing all of this while playing for a team that squeaked into the playoffs at 8-8. Last Sunday, the total number of social media comments surrounding the Steelers vs. Broncos game made it the most talked about sporting event via social media since January, 2011, according to Bluefin Labs. Last weekend’s game garnered more “social buzz” than even last February’s Super Bowl.
You may ask, what in the world does this have to do with small business and digital marketing? Well, with no further ado, here are five learnings from Tim Tebow that you can apply to your small business:
1. Never, ever Doubt yourself (or Your Product)
At every level of his career Tim Tebow has been told, “You can’t do this; you can’t succeed at this level.” In high school, college and the pros, pundits, coaches and talking heads have asserted that his delivery is too slow, his arm too weak and his skill set ill suited to play quarterback. Tebow has remained steadfast to himself and to his skill set that he can succeed at QB. In the spring of 2010, scouts and coaches were begging him to enter the NFL draft as anything but a quarterback. Coaches wanted to see him workout as a fullback, tight-end or running back. They didn’t believe he had the mechanics to play the quarterback position in the NFL.
To a point, his critics have been somewhat accurate in their assessment of the 24-year old Tebow. This year he has completed just 46.5% of his passes, the lowest percentage of any starting quarterback in nearly 30 years. He threw only 12 touchdown passes in 14 games played (11 starts), coupled with a paltry 72.9 QB rating, nearly half the rating of Drew Brees, who posted a robust 134.4 rating this season and who is widely considered to be one of the top QB’s in the game today.
To measure Tebow by statistics alone is doing him and everyone who roots for him an injustice. It’s his heart, determination, belief in himself and overall intangibles that have made him a success.
Lesson #1: Small businesses need to understand that it’s all about your employees, your products, your customers, your store, your appearance and your attitude. All of these constitute success, not just your level of profitability.
2. Be Accessible
Tebow is never one to shy away from an interview or a postgame conference, whether his team has won or lost. He is generous with his time and because of this, he has reaped the benefits in spades. He has generated goodwill amongst the media, has throngs of advocates on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and has everyday Joes who, if not for Tebow, would want nothing to do with Denver Broncos football.
Lesson #2: By adopting this philosophy of being accessible, small businesses will find that their shops are filled to the gills, their customers happy and their referral traffic stronger than ever. Being accessible does not just apply to social media activity and having a presence on these platforms. Rather this constitutes a commitment to engaging customers in conversation and figuring out how you can better serve their needs.
3. Tailor your System or Product to Your Customers
Head Coach John Fox arrived in Denver prior to the 2011 season. His preference was to start Kyle Orton at QB over Tim Tebow, who was more of a classic pocket quarterback with a strong arm (and certainly better mechanics than Tebow). After a 1-4 start, Fox wisely inserted Tebow into the starting lineup prior to their sixth game, against the Miami Dolphins. Denver would go on to win 7 of its next 8 games, including ripping off six straight wins from November 6th to December 11th.
Turning the offense over to Tebow was not Fox’s smartest move. Rather he was even more prescient in completely revamping his team’s offense to fit the skills of Tebow. Fox scrapped his original playbook of 5 and 7 step drops and instead, calibrated his team’s offense to a read-option style where Tebow would have the option of rushing himself or tossing the football to the halfback. This offense has given opposing defenses fits and more importantly, has kept Denver in games that they should have no business being in.
Lesson #3: Don’t force a square peg into a round hole. If your customers prefer a certain feature or application that your product does not offer, meet their needs and provide them with this functionality. Happy customers = more revenue and more profits.
4. Be Unconventional
Most people agree that success is borne out of hard work, talent, timing and commitment. Along that same vein, many people agree that there are conventional ways to achieve success and there are unconventional ways to arrive at this point. Although being unconventional and “taking the road less traveled” is less appealing to most, don’t be afraid of forging your own path — a key lesson Tim Tebow learned early in life.
Many who have seen Tebow throw a football throughout the years have tried in vain to fix his throwing motion, so that his motion would “fit” a pro-style passer’s motion. Tebow’s motion has changed little since college, but his resilience and focus have steeled him and allowed him to succeed where others have dismissed him.
Lesson #4: As a small business owner, don’t be afraid to go against the grain. It’s often through this approach where small business owners realize success when others least expect it, making achieving this level of success that much sweeter.
5. Your Response to Failure
Failure is inevitable. No one has ever marched through life without a blemish on their record. In fact, failures aren’t blemishes, I see them as opportunities. The Broncos experienced failures at critical junctures this season. They started the season flat and uninspired on both sides of the football, starting 1-4 and in the process, benched their starting quarterback. After reeling off 7 wins in 8 games, the Broncos were romped in their final 3 regular season games, getting outscored 88 to 40 and sneaking into the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker.
Through all of this, Tebow stood up at the podium after each loss and pledged to fans and supporters that he would get better. He has and the Broncos find themselves in the thick of the AFC playoffs. Need a visual of his pledge to fans? Look no further than his pledge to fans after the Florida Gators lost to Ole Miss in September of 2008: