How Digital Marketing Is Like Poker

As a lover of anything involving strategy, I’m naturally a poker fan.  I previously wrote how internet marketing is like chess and today I got to thinking how it’s also like poker.

Consider that in both digital marketing and poker:

Comprehension of data is essential

Understanding the odds of hitting your cards for a winning hand (and even understanding the quality of your hand pre-flop) is an essential skill in poker. While on TV they portray poker as constantly fast-paced and emotion-driven – that’s not what is really happening. They edit out the hours of the players sitting there playing rather mechanically-driven cards.

Similarly, in digital marketing understanding not just how to report data and analytics, but ability to analyze and apply them is critical. In both cases, data-driven decisions are going to yield the best results long term. The odds will always run their course.

Intersection of data and emotion/creativity

Yet it’s not just data that makes up a good card player.  Nor is it just data that defines a quality digital marketer.  Data alone is just half the picture – infusing data with emotion and creativity is where numbers turn into results.

Poker players need to get creative with their game play and switch things up so opponents can’t get a read on them.  Further, they must artfully disguise their emotions and movements.  This involves a good degree of creativity and must happen while also remaining conscious of numbers.

Digital marketing is similar in a sense because you always need to sit at the intersection of data and creativity.  It is creativity that sets web metrics on fire and helps establish increasing returns.  And it’s data that helps refine, guide and even inspire new ideas.

Understanding competition

Poker players are able to comprehend their opponents through body language, learning their style and figuring out any tells. Similarly, digital marketers should be tracking competitive metrics and paying attention to the strategies and tactics their opponents implement to stay one step ahead of them.

Patience and focus

Solid poker playing requires heroic amounts of patience.  You may wish to splash around with your chips, but in tournament play especially patience can be the element which separates the winners from the losers.  It takes time to get good hands and win big pots, incrementally steal blinds with bad hands and move up in ranking.

In digital marketing, patience and focus are equally vital.  I noted this in a previous post – as your content expands, things get easier. But to reach the point where things are tipping in the right direction patience and focus is required.

Have a strategy, and be able evolve it quickly

At any poker table, having a strategy is essential.  As is shifting the strategy to suit the changing actions and emotional mindsets of opponents.  It can’t remain static and must evolve with the game.

In digital marketing this is exactly the same.  If there is one constant of the web, it is change which benefits those who are able to adapt to it fast.

Are you a digital marketer who also plays poker?  See any other parallels?

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