7 things startups can learn from the Super Bowl

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If the Super Bowl was a startup, it would be the greatest and most successful startup in the world. The annual event is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States. Really you don’t get higher than that.

To be one of the final two teams on Super Bowl Sunday takes hard work, dedication and a certain level of skill that not everyone has. Even more to run a successful Super Bowl Sunday takes much more, the football is the easy part. The Super Bowl isn’t just a championship game, it is championship event and possibly the only time Americans share a sense of unified excitement.

As a package, the game and the event present a great success story.

As a startup, you want your company, service and/or product to inspire the same kind of excitement and devotion. You want to win the audience and you want them to beg for more.

Value is important
It is incredibly important to give people great value for their money, even if sometimes that money is a lot. A chance to have an ad air during the Super Bowl costs in the region of US$4-million and those ads can cost even more to produce. Why do people pay it? Because they know that they are getting priceless value. Give your customers/audience value.

Creativity is king
It would be so easy and probably a lot cheaper for the Super Bowl to just be another sporting event, where the game is played, a victor declared and everybody goes home. Instead it has become an international event that is almost second to none. Parties are thrown around it, the halftime show is possibly one the most looked forward to periods of the game. Every year, the organisers keep it fresh — the core principles are there, but the acts are different. Keep it fresh and creative.

Focus on your strengths
Teams always invest in key players they think will help them win championships. They look for weak spots and seek to make them stronger. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is also important to keep the strongest part of your business solid. Because ignoring it won’t do you any good. Super Bowl’s biggest strength right now? The entertainment, and every year the price tag for ads gets higher, big brands step up their game and the celebrity performer gets more high profile.

Be hungry for a win
“I am a winner. I am going to win.” — Coach Boone, Remember the Titians.

Last year when the New York Giants won their fourth Super Bowl game against the New England Patriots, to be honest, they came in as the underdogs. The Giants had the lowest regular season record (9–7, win percentage of 56.3%) by a Super Bowl champion ever. Though they led the game 9-0 the Patriots retaliated with 17 unanswered points putting them in the lead with 17-9. But the team stayed hungry to the last moment coming back with 57 seconds left in the game — the Giants won that game 21-17. You have to want to succeed.

Leadership is key
One of the things that people remembered most about the Giants Super Bowl win last February is quarterback Eli Manning. Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions and was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time in his career. Anyone who watched that game will tell you that Manning showed true leadership on the field. Good leadership matters in any team. If the leader fails, the team fails. If your company has strong leadership then chances are it will succeed. Truth is, sometimes that leader isn’t always you.

Out do everyone
It is a competition. Sometimes people forget that. Two teams are competing to win a trophy and essentially be deemed the greatest football team in the United States. Brands are in a competition to produce the best ad for Super Bowl Sunday — the one that has the most viral potential and the one everyone will be talking about the next day. Everyone taking some sort of stage on game day is out to win. So your company needs to out do its competitors. Do everything better.

Don’t be afraid of failure
“In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail,” says Vince Lombardi, the man the Super Bowl trophy is named after. He won the first three Super Bowls. In 1971 Chuck Howley was named the Most Valuable Player at the Super Bowl, his team the Dallas Cowboys lost that game. Though the Cowboys suffered a 16-13 loss to the Colts Howley intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. Howley is one the greatest linebackers to ever play the game. The next year the Cowboys won the Super Bowl. Don’t be afraid of failing, just stand up stronger and better.

Image credit: Cllips

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