After countless meetings, a few tech headaches, and that post-lunch slump, you find yourself drained. That cursor blinks at you while you stare down your next task.
Then, you hear two words from your manager.
Fast forward to you working on your backspin and yelling at the ball to go over the net.
At Bluleadz, we take a lot of pride in our work. We strive to do everything awesome and help our clients see big results.
And that hard work is often balanced with our play time. We use our HubSpot ping pong table to break up our workday. It acts as a cultural staple here. It’s a symbol of our "work hard, play hard" mentality.
Not only does it provide relief during a busy workday, but it also fosters a collaborative, fun environment. But more importantly, ping pong helps us become better marketers in several ways:
It Helps Develop (And Evolve) Strategy
Ping pong is more than just learning how to hit the ball and return it in a volley. Similarly, marketing is more in depth than just throwing together a blog article or buying Google Ads.
Simply put, both ping pong and marketing require strategy. They also call for adjusting strategies on the fly as the game evolves.
For example, if your content marketing strategy includes long form blog articles that aren't generating much traffic or engagement, you need to shake things up. Instead of publishing a 3,000 word article each week, break that long form piece of content into a blog series of three smaller articles. Then, measure how those shorter articles perform in comparison.
When it comes to inbound marketing, you should always measure and adjust your strategy. The more you measure your efforts, the more you get out of your marketing tactics.
The same goes for ping pong. The best players in the office don't just stick to the same old approach. They make small changes, like switching from a deep shakehand grip to a penhold grip or trying new serves, to improve their accuracy and speed.
In the marketing world, this is known as A/B testing. If your landing page has a low click-through rate (CTR), change the CTA button and measure the new results. You'll know pretty quickly, in both ping pong and in marketing, if your strategy changes should stay or go.
Takeaway: Developing an analytical mindset is one of the most important marketing skills you can master. Find an A/B testing tool that is intuitive, and build a strategy around testing your high value resources, like your landing pages or email marketing campaign.
It Proves That Practice Makes (Near) Perfect
Everything you want to master takes time. You won't win championships your first time on the table, just as you won't generate 1,000 leads with your first content marketing campaign.
In the ping pong world, you need to play around with your serving style, the type of paddle you use, your stance, and how you track and return shots during volleys. You eventually develop a strategy that is comfortable for you.
Same goes for your marketing skills. Your first few campaigns might miss the mark. Your keywords and topic clusters might not align with what your target audience is searching for.
In other words, you're likely going to make mistakes, but the most important thing is learning from those mistakes. Otherwise, you'll stagnate and fall behind your competitors.
This is where another important marketing skill comes in handy — adopting a growth mindset.
A growth mindset, introduced by Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, is the idea that you can grow your brain's ability to learn and solve problems. In other words, when you face failure, you believe you're able to learn, improve yourself through effort, and eventually achieve your goal.
Takeaway: Reflect on your mistakes, and take notes on where you're falling short in your marketing campaigns. Also, follow influencers and stay in touch with the latest marketing insights by reading industry blogs. This way, you can put these new tips to practice and start mastering them.
It Boosts Health and Creativity
Ping pong tables are a cliche, especially in creative workspaces like marketing agencies, but they're cliche for several good reasons.
In terms of your culture, use ping pong as a social outlet to address common workplace issues. First of all, relationship building is a must, but it's a major pain point for a lot of your staff. According to OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement poll, 34% of employees don't think they have enough social interaction with their colleagues.
Ping pong gives your team a place to engage in an informal setting and build a strong rapport with one another. This is especially beneficial for breaking down silos and getting teams to communicate with other teams they wouldn't normally interact with. It also encourages leadership to interact with employees at all levels.
Another common culture problem is a lack of morale and satisfaction. OfficeVibe's poll also found that 15% of employees don't see themselves working at their company in one year. Ping pong sparks laughter and elevates employees' moods. Boosting morale, in turn, improves productivity and retention.
Physical and Mental Health
There are also plenty of health benefits, both physical and mental, of playing ping pong.
It's a full body workout that helps you stay loose and stretched. Aside from burning calories, you can even improve your hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
Coined as the best sport for your brain, ping pong also keeps you mentally sharp because each serve and volley is essentially a puzzle in real time. You're forced to stay super focused and think on your feet as you monitor speed, movements, and angles in which the ball spins.
You're using your parietal lobes, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum when you're coordinating your reflexes and tracking the ball. These parts of your brain also impact your temperament, hence the calming and relaxing benefits of playing. Some researchers are even suggesting ping pong as a viable treatment and prevention plan for Alzheimer’s.
All this physical and mental stimulation gets your creative juices flowing. In fact, a 2014 Stanford study found that even simple exertion like walking can boost creative output by as much as 60%.
Similarly, a 2013 survey published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that regular exercisers experience improvements in convergent and divergent thinking, both of which are essential in creative thinking.
So not only can you improve how you feel, but you're also better equipped to think outside the box.
Takeaway: Creativity is another important marketing skill. You can further develop your creativity through creative problem solving, but you can also do this through collaboration.
Host brainstorming sessions with your marketing team after playing ping pong. Also, consider using walking meetings when you need to come up with unique, awesome marketing ideas.
It Sparks a Competitive Spirit
The friendly competitive spirit in the workplace is fun, and that competitive spirit translates to strategy. We use similar tactics for our ping pong competitions in our marketing competitions.
We leave the ping pong table out in the common area, so when we're playing a tournament, it's an advantage to watch your competitor play someone else. You can assess their style, identify their weak spots, and study their serves.
The same goes for our marketing efforts. We use tools to determine how our competitors are strategizing and executing their plans. Our competitor analysis is crucial for us staying ahead of the game.
Takeaway: Adaptability makes you a better competitor and a better marketer. Instead of watching your competitors outrank you and whining about it, you need to be prepared to adapt and embrace change with a positive attitude and a strategic mindset.
Keep an eye on your competitors using awesome tools, like SpyFu, Ahrefs, and Moz. Create a competitor analysis process, then check in on your competitors on a quarterly basis. Use this information to identify how to adjust and improve your approach.