Marketing Automation Strategy: Don’t Skate to the Puck, Master the Garbage Goal

Don’t overthink your marketing automation strategy.

You are NOT Wayne Gretzky.

Stop trying to model your behavior on extraordinary achievers (Gretzky, Elon Musk, John Rockefeller, etc.)

If you want to win at the game of business, find a role model that you can emulate, and it aint “The Great One”.

Can I really find a way to correlate Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey goal scorer of all time, to a marketing automation strategy?

Why yes, yes I can.

There are few people on the planet that like sports as much as I do, and probably no one that uses them as often as business analogies.

Using sports stories as a way to visualize & understand concepts is great.

Thinking you can replicate their results? Not so much.

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Unrealistic Expectations

Recently I was in one of my favorite entrepreneurial groups having some great conversations around LTV (LifeTime Value), positioning, etc. when a member started asking me some questions about pricing strategy for their software.

Anyone who knows me, knows that maybe the only thing I like doing more than talking pricing strategy is actually implementing it. So of course  I took the ball (or puck) and ran with it.

We started talking and getting to know their business (a local government engagement tool) and when I was having some difficulty getting her to nail down a strategic persona or ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) she said this:

“I’m skating to were I think the puck is going.. that councils, nonprofits, even brands, start asking stakeholders for their opinion a lot more – this requires a culture shift internally… and one that I’m not sure if/when it will happen”


That’s some scary stuff and not uncommon when I talk to Founders. The idea that they will “create the market” or as she put it “skate to where the puck is going”.

That line is a paraphrasing of a famous Wayne Gretzky quote. When he was asked about his success in hockey. His response was “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

That’s a GREAT strategy IF you are the greatest hockey player to EVER live! If you have an uncanny ability (proven over decades) of seeing things happen before they do again & again. If not only you know you are better than everyone else in your arena, but everyone else in your world knows it too.

Gretzky was a magician on the ice. Clearly heads above the other skaters on the ice. He was a once in a century talent.

Sound like you?

If so congrats superhuman, but for most of us mere mortals we should follow the Phil Esposito plan.

Who the Hell is Phil Esposito?

Phil Esposito is a Hall of Fame hockey player, he played for 18 years (during the tough guy era without helmets) and is the 10th greatest goal scorer in NHL history (of course Gretzky is 1).

Esposito was a great player clearly but here’s the thing; Esposito wasn’t overly physically gifted. He wasn’t the fastest skater, most talented stick handler, or deftest touch with the puck.


He was the master of the “garbage goal”. He was keenly focused on positioning himself in front of the net looking for the deflection and shoving it back in goal. His teammate Bobby Orr was the “better” player and would shoot on goal and if it didn’t go in, he would slap it back himself.

You see it doesn’t matter how the puck gets into the net, there are no “style points” or extra credit. It doesn’t matter who shot first, just who touched it last. A goal is a goal is a goal on the scoreboard.

Sales is the same.

It doesn’t matter how much effort you expend, or how clever you were, a dollar of revenue is a dollar of revenue.

If you are SUPERNATURALLY gifted and KNOW where your market is headed BEFORE ANYONE DOES and can afford to wait for them to catch up then you can bet your company on the future. In other words “Be Gretzky” and skate to where your market is going.

BUT I bet there is a real problem your target market has today you could fix instead. One that they acknowledge or recognize with your help. One that they are trying to solve TODAY not TOMORROW. You can position yourself in front of that goal and with much less effort and risk. Make your marketing automation strategy about taking the easy points.

Building a Business is Hard Enough

Shifting age old cultures in your market, changing long established buying behaviors, and reforming user preferences is VERY hard. So don’t try to “change” people. Figure out how to solve their problems by aligning yourself with them.

Don’t try and change the world or “make a dent in the universe”, change YOUR world and make a dent in your niche!

One of the key tenets of the DEMAND Success program is “Mutual Fit or Fail”. Stop trying to change your customer and lead them to where you think the future is. Instead position yourself in front of THEIR goals and assist them getting their shot across the line.

Garbage Goal Action Steps

  1. Determine 5 companies that serve the same market you do.

  2. Define 3 ways you could work together to solve a problem for your market

  3. Assist 1 other Founder score a goal & get ready to score yourself!

How are you going about your marketing automation strategy? Are you trying to do too much or capitalize on the low hanging fruit?

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