In sports, we are taught to analyze our opponents, and act on what they like and don’t like, in order to defeat them. “Get inside their heads.” Always useful from a strategic standpoint, and table tennis is no different.
However, in the heat of the rally, your focus must shift. When the ball leaves your opponent’s paddle, it is the ball alone you must respond to in terms of physics: Speed, spin, and trajectory. To get your return to go where you want it to, with the kind of spin you want, you must focus on getting your feet in the appropriate position, launch your body core in motion, and execute the technical stroke of the arm and wrist, all precisely timed for optimum impact. None of this relates to the other player’s intentions or strengths. Yes, you want to hit it where your opponent will not be comfortable receiving it; but this requires delivering the stroke that ball needs.
So it is with creating a strong content plan.
At the outset of your planning, keep in mind: Whom you’re playing against, and what exactly the “ball” is. Take the situation at hand, with assets, prevailing market opportunities, and budgets, and create the best, strongest, most persuasive campaign you can. There are certain laws of marketing “physics” that must be followed. Yes, you may have to please a client or stakeholders; but in the end what will succeed is a trajectory that can clear the hurdle of audience acceptance.
Yes, it can be a mighty struggle to please the initial gatekeeper (your boss, your key client, etc.), and you may have to expend lots of hours and resources to win this interim acceptance. Especially if navigating around a multiplex of pet peeves, arbitrary preferences, and unfounded personal theories of what works and what doesn’t. But at what cost?
Let’s say you’re building a microsite for a new wearable fitness tracker startup. The CEO loves extreme sports and wants Red Bull-like action sport videos on the landing page to stir up enthusiasm for the brand. There’s your likely “opponent.” Gather as much market research about your prime consumer audience, who might be sincerely interested in low-impact exercise with moderate cardio benefits (and not freestyle BMX): That’s the ball you’ve got to aim for and hit. Shoot for that, and ultimately you can win over the CEO when he sees your growing market traction.
You can’t sustainably build for a stakeholder of one (there are only so many Steve Jobs-like visionaries to go around). It necessarily narrows your perspective – and increases your chance of failure. So hit away – at the ball.