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What key marketing lessons can you learn from the brutal tarmac of Mario Kart?

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset here: you are not better at Mario Kart than me.

Look, you may well have bundled over the line in second place at Mario Circuit playing on your nephew’s Wii in 2009 while racing on 50cc.  

You might even have managed to worm your way into first place while playing Mario Kart Tour, that awful mobile version of the game.

But trust me, we are not the same. I am a veteran. I’ve been around the block. I’ve finished in first place in every single Mario Kart game produced since around 1990 – and I’ve got the mental scars to prove it.

Of course, I didn’t get here overnight. I’ve learned a thing or two while being hit by red shells and bob-ombs on my way to being the champion I am today. And as it happens, many of those lessons apply to marketing, too.

So, what are these lessons? Well, let’s take a quick Mario Kart tour (get it?) around what my virtual racing excellence can teach you about marketing your business.

Keep your eyes on the road

First and foremost, never underestimate the immense value of sticking to your race and keeping your eyes on the road.

Worrying about what other people are up to in a Mario Kart race is a fool’s errand. All that matters is what’s immediately behind and in front of you – the rest is completely irrelevant.

I don’t need to worry about where my opponents are when I’m tearing up the track, because every position behind first place is just last place to me anyway.

Marketing is the same. You don’t need to be concerned about what those around you are doing, you simply need to put your energy into a marketing strategy that works for you.

Tick the boxes that add value to your business, whether that’s a beautifully designed website, gathering social proof, or relevant, clickable newsletters sent straight to your clients’ inboxes.

You can always pull inspiration off other people’s strategies, of course. You might like the way that another planner’s site looks, or the feel of the content they produce. I’ve certainly learned a thing or two about what not to do in a race from the karters around me.

But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is finding the right blend and balance that best serves your business.

Focus on your race and let everyone else slip on the banana skins. That’s how you win.

Sometimes the setbacks are just unavoidable

I’ve been battered and bruised by Mario Kart over the years. Nothing can truly prepare you for that sinking feeling of knowing that trouble is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Even bona fide champions like myself sometimes have to stare down the barrel of the blue shell – a thrown projectile that exclusively targets the player in first place – racing along the track behind me.

And while I’m capable of escaping from most situations with the grace and poise of an Olympic diver, there are moments when these disasters are just unavoidable.

The trick is to never let it put you off your stride. You can’t allow short-term disruptions and setbacks to distract you from your targets – whether that’s getting in front of prospective clients, or seeing the gorgeous gold of a virtual trophy on that screen.

At the end of the day, my racing strategy is simple but effective: win at all costs. I may be used to riding out unopposed in first place, but I’m also well adapted for competing and breaking my way through the pack to get back to where I want to be.

The same is true of marketing. You should create and put a strategy in place, and have contingencies available and ready for the times when things don’t go your way.

The roadblocks are inevitable. The key is to keep them in mind, and be ready to adapt if necessary.

Be an unbearable winner

As many of my colleagues will (un)happily attest to, I am the very best at being the worst of winners when I cross that finish line – usually in first, of course.

At a recent Yardstick social event, we were having a quick Mario Kart session at a pub in Nottingham. Obviously, I was winning and, naturally, I was letting everyone know about it.

At some point, a colleague (who will remain nameless to protect his shredded, Scottish dignity) announced that he was going to challenge me on track and, quote, “make that boy cry”.

In fairness, he did succeed in his goal. There were tears on my cheeks as I crossed the finish line in first while he languished back in literally last place; tears of joy for winning, but also of profound sadness that I simply couldn’t find a worthy opponent on the night.

So, what does all this over-exaggerated, entirely unnecessary gloating have to do with marketing your business? Simple: be the worst winner.

Tell everyone who will listen that you’re great. Then tell everyone who won’t listen again, and do it even louder.

Put your skills and expertise front and centre of your marketing strategy. Show clients how you can add value to their lives and explain what it will do for them and their financial goals.

Are you a Chartered planner or firm? Amazing, tell me more about why your knowledge and experience means you can help me reach my goals.

You recently won awards in your area? Phenomenal, you must be a business of high quality that I can trust with my money.

You have 100% 5-star reviews on Google? Wow! Your clients must really feel the benefit from all the work you do in their lives.

There’s no shame in telling people you’re the best – potential clients need to know why you’re the right planner for them.

I certainly feel no such social embarrassment when I vociferously celebrate my Mario Kart triumphs.  Albeit now that I think about it, my interactions with my colleagues have become increasingly frosty since I crushed them all while racing round Toad Factory last week.

Probably a coincidence.

Create a first place marketing strategy

Want to work with a marketing agency that can put you on the podium where you deserve to be? Email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.

Or, if you’re looking for someone to teach you a lesson racing round Coconut Mall, email [email protected] so we can exchange Nintendo Switch Online friend codes and see what’s what.

I’m serious, I’ll do it.

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