What Can Marketing Learn From The Pageant World? Turns Out, Lots.
By Morgan Lucas
From meeting Tom Brady to biking 50 miles with Miss USA, from competing in the Bahamas at Miss Teen USA to appearing on the cover of a magazine, undeniably, my experience as Miss New Hampshire Teen USA was once in a lifetime. But above all else, pageants provided me with valuable skills that allowed me to pursue an academic scholarship at a notable university and graduate with honors, ultimately translating positively to my role in digital marketing at SME Digital. I learned that it is not about the crown or notoriety that matters, but rather what you do with your title. My time in the pageant world was challenging and rewarding, and I am honored today to share a few unexpected marketing skills that I acquired through my experience.
Confidence is Key
It’s no secret that you need substantial confidence in order to be able to stand on stage – in a swimsuit – in front of thousands of people. However, it is also a critical piece to any successful marketing campaign. If you aren’t one hundred percent confident in your team, your team will fail. If you don’t believe one hundred percent in what you are marketing, your tactics will fail. But most importantly, if you are not one hundred percent confident in yourself, your efforts and everyone associated with them will fail. Don’t fail.
One word: Motivation. How else would I get through 4:30 am workouts before school? With any project, you must not only have a vision for the end result, but also for the direct impact it will provide for your team, client, or consumer. But don’t stop there! How will this provide a lasting impact? How can you ensure that your product will survive a dynamic industry? Think farther. Are there any additional areas that you can explore that no one has tapped into? Be the first. Be the best. Be the only.
Be Comfortable With Imperfect
Rapid prototype, rapid prototype, and rapid prototype! If there is one thing I have learned, it is that perfect doesn’t matter when it comes to results. Be able to accept an imperfect product to achieve faster and better results. Save yourself time and effort. Learn, measure, and build.
Question the Why
Don’t just follow directions, but justify what it is that you’re actually doing. Question processes, responsibilities, and results. My experience as a state titleholder taught me the value of curiosity. What was my role? Through exploration, I found that my purpose was to take advantage of my credibility and public voice in order to make a difference. It wasn’t about the crown, but it was about using that symbol to raise awareness about a cause I am passionate about: childhood literacy. And eventually funding the construction of a library in Laos. What is your role as a marketer? It may be to capture what is working from a measurement standpoint. In that case, don’t just look at numbers. What is your data telling you? But most importantly, why is this happening? Question, question, question.
“Be the first. Be the best. Be the only.”
Work Smarter, Not Harder
In order to continually improve, you must use science and data to answer your questions and support your decisions. Find out what is working and what is not working and then adjust accordingly. In pageants, it was important to critically analyze feedback from judges at previous competitions in order to eventually win the title. In marketing, efforts are wasted if they’re not driving conversions. So why spend unnecessary effort on tactics that aren’t effective? Find what’s working…spend more time on that. Measurement is key in efficiently allocating your resources. You will get 80 percent of the results with just 20 percent of the effort.
Look at the broader spectrum, rather than the fact that you might not have a crown on your head at the end. As marketers, we have zoomed in much too far, to the point where we can’t see the bigger picture of why we are doing things. We measure engagement on our numerous social channels to gauge performance. But is this metric actually measuring conversions? We must measure every single campaign a customer touches to truly understand the customer journey and make accurate attributions. We must zoom out in order to analyze the effects of variables in marketing campaigns.
It is a positive attitude that will propel you forward when presented with opportunities. Only one out of many accomplished women could win the title – so it’s important to use your experiences to learn and grow, all while enjoying every second of it. Be open to new and all opportunities that come your way. You never know what you may miss, so take these opportunities and run with them. In order to stay ahead of the curve in marketing, you have to try new things and take risks. The result may not always be what you expect, but at least you didn’t miss a chance in the process.
Failure is Good
Don’t be afraid of failure – failure is good! Failure means that you are coming closer and closer to your goal. It’s impossible to achieve anything without failing first. Laugh, learn, and move forward.
“Providing a WOW experience will take you far in both your personal and professional life.”
In order to get the most out of opportunities, you must fully commit. Preparation in the months leading up to Miss Teen USA was so critical because it was a part of the journey. It was through making appearances, consistently training, preparing for interviews, and following a strict meal plan that I gained valuable skills that I have taken with me going forward. In marketing, you must commit fully to your team and clients in order to optimize results and build relationships.
Different backgrounds allow an organization to flourish. Take in all of these aspects in order to absorb and contribute all that you have to offer. Find buried knowledge and apply it to whatever you are doing. As a collective team, we have all of the pieces; we just need to collaborate to put it together. If you maintain openness, you will succeed. I would not have been able to accomplish what I did without absorbing guidance from key contributors such as my family, coaches, and mentors. We all have similar goals in mind, and we can succeed to a much higher degree if we work together to achieve them. If you are open to giving and receiving these benefits, the effects will snowball as others become more apt to giving and receiving, as well.
Provide a WOW Experience
As a state representative, others looked up to me as a role model and ambassador. I received consistent requests for appearances, autographs, speaking, etc. At the time, I was also preparing for the SATs, taking 5 AP classes, visiting colleges, and filling out applications; to say I was busy is an understatement. However, I went out of my way to make those who took the time to reach out to me feel special, while serving as a positive role model. For instance, I sent a contributor of my Library in Laos foundation a crown from a pageant that I had won and that meant a lot to me to give to their daughter as a ‘thank you’. At SME Digital, it is not simply about what you can do to contribute to your team, but it’s always about doing more than you are asked. Providing a WOW experience will take you far in both your personal and professional life. Not only will you add value, but you will also learn more in the process.
Recently, I was asked what it was like to put myself in front of an audience to be judged subjectively and critiqued in my most vulnerable state (in a swimsuit). It occurred to me that I never exactly thought about it in that way. In my view, it was always about the experience and gaining everything that I could from it, while using my title in a positive way to give back to my community. It wasn’t about the competition or glamour, but about the incredible journey that was in front of me.
If there is one thing that can improve your perspective on life, it’s to not take things too seriously. Life is subjective and downright unfair. Learning to accept that is important when avoiding being consumed with things that just don’t matter. In pageants, a different day and different judges could result in a totally different outcome. Instead, move past the subjectivity and look at what you have gained from an objective point of view.
Marketing is a very subjective field, as well. In order to experience growth, you must look at it from an objective standpoint and build on insights that have been gathered through data and measurement.
Take Your Turn
Now it’s your turn to take the stage. Share some top learnings from a unique experience in your past. The comments section is down below.