While most of us grow up and grow out of the sibling rivalry phase, there can still be some situations well into adulthood that pit us against each other – or at the very least create areas of conflict. I was thinking about this after watching my beloved New England Patriots lose to the Baltimore Ravens last weekend – the result of which is the impending Super Bowl meet up of brothers Jim and John Harbaugh. This will be the first time coaches who are also brothers have gone head to head in a Super Bowl. I suppose this isn’t anything new in the Manning household, but this coach on coach competition got me wondering about what we’ve learned from sibling rivalry that we can take to our jobs as marketers.
Here are three things about sibling rivalry that are beneficial for marketers:
1. Be diplomatic. With any family conflict, it’s important to talk to all parties involved before you can truly form an educated opinion. In marketing and PR, this means not only working with your internal contact (typically someone in the marketing department), but also getting to know folks on the sales team and in product development. This will give you a well-rounded understanding of what the product and company offer, enabling you to create the best possible strategy for how to promote them both.
2. Know your competition better than you know yourself. When dealing with siblings, the good and the bad is the same: you know them like the back of your hand, therefore you can typically anticipate their next move. Since you weren’t raised with your client’s competitors, you need to learn everything there is to know about them – the product, the company, the executives, the media coverage, the events they attend, the awards they’ve won. Everything. And you should also look into who they think their competition is. Because it might not necessarily be your client. This will help you devise the best marketing and PR plan possible in order to help your client achieve their marketing and growth goals – and make you and your team look like rock stars.
3. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. When I was growing up my step-mom always used to say this to me. At the time I had no idea what she meant, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned another phrase that explains exactly what she was trying to tell me: you get more bees with honey than vinegar. So, who cares if that journalist was rude to you on the phone? Or that your client’s #1 rival has a bigger booth right next to them at their most important tradeshow of the year? Or that the publish date of the case study you’ve been working so hard on for the last six months got pushed yet again? In this business, it’s really important to maintain your game face and keep these people close – no matter how uncomfortable the situation, or how frustrated you are. Why? Not only is it good business practice in general, but also you never know when your biggest rival could become a potential partner. Or work at your client’s company. Or that not-so-nice journalist could move to a different publication – hence giving you new opportunities to pitch them different stories. While there are a lot of us who fit under the so-called “marketing umbrella,” it still tends to be a small world, so unlike how you might have been with your siblings growing up, in your day-to-day life as a marketer, always try to be friendly first no matter who you’re dealing with and you will never go wrong.
While sibling rivalry is just a natural part of growing up, in marketing some of its key “rules” can actually be extremely helpful if you’re willing to embrace them!