How Boxing Makes Me a Better Content Marketer

I’ve been a certified gym rat (or is that certifiable gym rat?) for a little over two years now, and one of the great joys of this undertaking has been learning the “sweet science” of boxing from my master trainer, Damerone Porter. Check out the latest version of my highlights reel:

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk about his new book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, for the Content Marketing Podcast (coming this Thursday!). As I played back the audio and listened to Gary’s metaphor of content marketing as a boxing match, I couldn’t help but muse about the many ways my boxer’s education has carried over to my “other life” in content marketing.

How Boxing Makes Me a Better Content Marketer image rachel boxing glovesHow Boxing Makes Me a Better Content MarketerThat said, here are my top 3 lessons from boxing that make me a better content marketer:

1. Concentrate on the Basics

There are four hits in boxing: jab, cross, hook, and uppercut. That’s it. Whether you’re watching the newest newbie to the heavyweight champion of the world, they’re always using some combination of those four hits.

The only difference is that, to the champ, these four hits have become such second nature he can combine and recombine them at a moment’s notice to put together a winning bout.

Content Marketing Takeaway: Before you try to get fancy, make sure you master the basics: how to write a good blog post, the elements of a good video, what makes an effective tweet versus an effective Facebook post, and so on. Those basics also give you a “home base” to come back to when you’re blocked, overwhelmed, or frustrated.

2. Keep Your Focus

If you’ve ever watched a boxing match, it may seem that each boxer is looking at his opponent’s face, but he’s not: he’s watching his shoulders.

Why? Because that’s where every hit originates. To the experienced fighter, the slightest twitch of a shoulder can speak volumes about his opponent’s next move, so that’s where he keeps his focus.

Content Marketing Takeaway: It’s distressingly easy to become distracted by the plethora of shiny objects that parade past us — the hot new social networks, the latest analytics packages, the latest data on “best times to post,” etc. — but successful content marketers know to keep their focus on the factors that deliver results. 

3. Not Every Hit Is a Knockout

This was a big lesson for me, one that I still need to be reminded of fairly often. In boxing, you have two objectives: (1) don’t get hit and (2) hit your opponent. The second is what wins fights. So why the heck wouldn’t you want to hit as hard as possible every single time?

Because the huge, smashing hit is just one of the tools in the fighter’s arsenal. It takes a lot of energy and the windup is easy to spot. If you go for a knockout every time, your opponent will quickly see your pattern and defend against it. But if you mix it up with lighter, faster hits, you get to keep him guessing.

Content Marketing Takeaway: In addition to your groundbreaking, mega-brilliant thought-leader content, remember to mix it up with shorter posts and more practical topics.

So those are the takeaways I have to share from my boxing experience; how about you? What lessons have you been able to adapt from boxing — or any sport, for that matter — to improve your prowess as a content marketer?

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