- Don’t be satisfied with yesterday’s path to success. When Phelps announced his return to swimming, there were many naysayers who said 31 is “too old” for a swimmer. And not long ago, that was true. However, a consultant to the US swim team recently discovered that the average age of Olympic medalists in swimming has been steadily rising. In 1984, the average age of a male Olympic swimmer was 21.1, and in 2012, it was 26.2. This rise in average Olympian age can be attributed to advancements in technology, medicine and science over the past few decades. It's safe to say these fields will continue to advance at a rapid pace. Translation: What worked five years ago will most likely not be the best solution for today, and will certainly not be the best solution for tomorrow.
What outdated limits do you need to let go of? If your business-critical documents aren’t personalized, colorful, easy to read, and readily accessible according to today’s high standards and expectations, you may want to reevaluate your communications to align with your brand’s image and vision.
- Have a crisis communication plan. Over his professional swimming career, Michael Phelps has experienced a number of scandalizing events. The first one was publicized in 2004 when he was charged with a DUI at age 19, and the second one was in 2009 when incriminating pictures of him partaking in illegal drugs surfaced. His third and most recent publicized scandal was in 2014 when he was arrested for a second DUI. With each of these events, a form of crisis communication was used, along with behavioral changes such as attending alcoholics anonymous meetings, in order to save the Olympian’s name and career. Clearly, those plans and actions worked as Phelps continues to be praised for his accolades while competing in Rio.
The question is not “if” your business will experience crisis, but more of “when.” Your business’ reactions to disaster can either break or solidify your customers’ trust, therefore strengthening your brand. A best practice to encourage the latter would be to have a crisis communication plan that outlines how you will communicate to customers when disaster strikes.
- Know your competition, but don't let them into your head. If you didn't get a chance to watch the live lead-up to Monday night's men's 200m butterfly semifinals, you were missing out! South African swimmer Chad Le Clos made a point to stand in front of Phelps and perform a mix of Rocky moves and jazzercize with some odd wiggles sprinkled in. The two swimmers had developed a rivalry after Le Clos took the gold medal in the 200m butterfly finals in the London Olympics, and clearly, Le Clos was trying to get into Phelps' head. However, Phelps just stared ahead with a concentrative glare, which has now resulted in the #PhelpsFace meme that has taken over the Internet. Moments later, Phelps went on to beat Le Clos in the semifinals. In his post-swim interview, Phelps stayed cool as a cucumber while communicating his intent to keep his eye on the prize- the gold medal in the 200m butterfly finals. Instead of playing into the drama, Phelps let his swimming do the talking as he went on to win the 200m butterfly finals, landing his 20th Olympic medal.
Whoever your competition is, know their strengths and weaknesses, but do not let them overwhelm your thoughts or negatively influence your strategy. A great way to communicate your unique offerings to your customers is to highlight products and/or services that you have mastered better than your competition. Then, let your actions do the talking. Above all, keep your eye on the prize of strengthening your brand's value-add in customer minds.
Side Note: Speaking of #PhelpsFace memes, here is one that was recently posted by the CUNA Advocacy Group on Twitter: