Is bigger, faster, higher better?

Women's Olympic gymnastics lend an interesting perspective on past and present. The right small business marketing tactics are rarely what others pronounce as perfect. Get insight at

One of the things that really struck me as I’ve been watching some of the women’s gymnastics competitions during this Olympics is how grace is mostly gone. I suppose the same could be said about many small business marketing tactics.

The female Olympians compete with a primary emphasis on brawn. Floor routines are all about the tumbling lines with little attention to the presence and poise in between that used to separate winners from the rest.

Parallel bars focus on big moves rather than muscle control, agility and beauty.

Competitors today are expected to master all six disciplines, instead of being great in one. Height, power, muscle and precision have overrun the dance.

The gap that made women’s gymnastics distinctive from men’s is narrowing. Ordinarily, in our contemporary world where equal rights is a target, that would be a good thing. In this case, I don’t think it is. Women are built to excel at different things than men. That compelling choreography that evoked an emotional response made the routines special – and something men could never achieve.

Here’s a neat montage (about six minutes), chronicling the evolution of the uneven bars from the 50s through 2010:

As I watched the women gymnasts compete in the Olympics this year, reflecting in my own mind of how this has changed from years past, then cued this video, I felt a bit sad. Sad not only for a bygone era where differences were embraced and proudly broadcast but also for the current state where bigger, faster and higher – and sameness – are seen as better in all things, including small business marketing tactics.

The loudest and most visible (men) are swaying the masses toward template brawn small business marketing tactics. Being distinctive is still better in the small business realm. The artful dance of empathetic listing is what sets women apart (and some really savvy men too). Consider being attractive with your selling strategy. The world has become more equal, but that doesn’t mean different is wrong. Embrace the art of subtle sales that’s the beauty of relationship building.

Perhaps it’s this whole connected era where people want everything fast, big, screaming and exciting in 140 characters or less than two minutes that is contributing to this conviction that bolder, bigger and broader is better. Sometimes subtle and soft brings loads more revenue than brash.

Want a different perspective? Just take a look at how the balance beam competition has evolved as a women’s only sport. The increased degree of balance required (not something men often excel at) has resulted in more beautiful and breathtaking routines over the years:

Still think it’s best to be equal? Better to be outstanding independently to my mind. Have you taken a divergent path that’s proven to be more artful, eloquent and rewarding? Please share in the comments below. If you liked this post, please also consider clicking on the social buttons to the left. Thanks!

8 responses to “Is bigger, faster, higher better?”

  1. Those videos are amazing. 12 minutes of enlightenment. Thanks Nanette. As to your point – I’m drawn to the subtle and the quietly clever. The advertising I’m seeing on the Canadian channels during the Olympics have none of that this time around. With bold, brash and in your face I tune out. Give me original, subtle and witty and I’m all ears.

    • I’m glad you liked them, Kelly. Yes, clever and subtle is fun, different and effective. Frankly, I haven’t been watching the Olympics on TV – I’m mostly grabbing what I want to see through online replays. Sorry to hear the ads have been so unpleasant in Canada – imagine they’re much the same in the US.

  2. Those videos are great – and eye opening! Looking at the earlier years with the uneven bars you see more control and more beauty. You make such a good point!! The juxtaposition of that with the balance beam is very interesting. I think the Olympics have lost their way in coverage – NBC is spending so much time hyping everything – I feel we are missing some great achievement.

    • Yes, yes, Vickie – isn’t it amazing how the beauty has been replaced by mostly power on the uneven bars (and floor) yet as you watch the progression of the balance beam it has become more beautiful to watch? Curious. Right – network coverage has been challenging. It used to be you could feel like you were almost there. No more.

  3. Your perspective about business marketing is always fascinating to me Nanette. I’m certainly not a fan of what I consider annoying, cookie-cutter-we’re-all-the-same templates, and louder is never better in my book. So yes to innovation and grace and authentic voice policies everywhere!

    • Thank you, Deborah. Sadly, much of what is being touted as effective does work – if you’re numbers are high enough. It just feels so wrong – particularly for small business.

  4. I loved the videos. Very cool to watch. Such talent! As for the marketing, I think that you are right about relationships. Even with the bigger corporate entities, building a relationship with your customers should be at the top of the list. Brands like Harley Davidson and Apple have done very well in this regard. I am an Apple fan and I never looked back. For years, I thought it was trumped up and just hype, but their products are well-made and their service model is excellent.

    Over the last few years, I’ve tried to be selective in choosing products and services that get good reviews and that are made well. It’s less expensive in the long run and it has allowed me to build relationships with those service people that I use regularly. For example, going to the same hairdresser instead of cheaping out with Cost Cutters. It costs me a few dollars more, but I am building a relationship with her and I know that I am helping an individual rather than a corporation with no real individual identity. I could list hundreds of examples like this. As consumers, we DO have control. We get to choose where we spend our dollars. Thanks for being a great supporter of authentic marketing, Nanette!

    • All great observations, Amy. I agree with your conclusion that paying more with providers you can build relationships costs less in the long run. As a funny side note on the hairdresser thing – I decided to find a good, local one too – she’s now a client of mine ;-).