The focus of Champions

Having completed my first season on the board of Oldham Athletic I’m in reflective mood.  It’s been my first season behind the scenes of a club I’ve supported since I was seven and it’s been an extremely challenging nine months for the club and me.


In a season when Leicester City have stunned us all by winning the Premier League having seemingly been relegation certainties the year before, sporting shocks have been a theme of the past year.  From Japan’s last minute win against the might of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, to the West Indies batsmen snatching a last over win in the cricket T20 World Cup Final it has been a year of shocks and stunning sporting resurrections.  Though not in the same league, Oldham had their very own having recovered from a seemingly impossible position 2nd from bottom of the table at the end of January to surviving with ease in April.

On a related note, not far away from my home is Turf Moor, home to the now Championship Champions Burnley.  They sealed promotion back to the Premier League and the title of Champions in no small part to a 23 match unbeaten run since December.  An amazing achievement in itself.

What connects all these achievements?  A clear and simple objective, belief in the plan and a disciplined focus to achieve it.

Each and every one of those teams, either started the season/campaign with a clear and simple objective or gained one through the course of the campaign/match.  It may be, in the case of Leicester that that clear and simple objective was revised once the previous objective was reached.  It was well known that Leicester started the season with the objective of reaching 40 points (the usual point level to avoid relegation from the Premier League).  Having reached this target (in the manner and time it was), the objective was reset to qualify for European competitions next season and finally, with qualification assured, the goal of becoming Champions was placed front and centre.

The same goes at Oldham, circumstance through the season meant any previous objectives were well out of the window by the middle of January.  It was then that the goal of 9 wins from the remaining matches was set.  Thankfully this focus helped to work in a way all objectives should, it united everyone behind one focus, simplified everything down to a simple statistic.  It then required a couple of results to give some belief that this objective was achievable, and the discipline and focus to ensure each and every game plan was executed well until it was achieved.

I draw so many parallels between this process of objective, belief and disciplined focus in sporting teams and the marketing projects we deal with at Happy.

Every successful marketing project, campaign or even website build is as a result of formulating a clear and simple objective and ensuring a disciplined focus on meeting this.

We always talk in terms of a simple journey, a literal journey.  If you were to get into your car in the morning and set off without having an objective, a goal for where you were driving to, how would you know when you arrived?  How would you follow the best route to get there if you didn’t know where there was?  You may well have a very nice drive, but you may not have achieved what you thought you wanted…and you’ll have wasted a petrol doing it.

It would be the same for Leicester City, Japan or the West Indies.  Without the focus those goals/objectives give a team or a project you cannot decide the best way to complete the task.  You may get lucky, and that is certainly where experience can help, but over a long or complex project it is unlikely that you’ll achieve everything you can.

For many of us it’s the easier option to fly into a new project, hammering our way into an exciting new journey rather than pausing and considering what we want to achieve, what we want the outcome to be.

Apply some Championship thinking to your next project, set a clear outcome and focus on achieving it.

Simon Brooke is a Director and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to or tweet us @Happy_Creative

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The focus of Champions
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