Calipari lessons on blogging

5 Corporate Blogging Techniques I Learned from John Calipari

Most people don’t associate corporate blogging with sports, but as a huge college basketball fan, I always try to draw comparisons between business and life on the court.

John Calipari, the current head men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, is one of the top coaches in the game today. Since arriving in Lexington for the start of the 2009-2010 season, he has compiled a record of 190-38. This includes four trips to the Final Four, including a national championship in 2011-2012.

What does this have to do with corporate blogging? Not much. Even so, Calipari’s approach to the game has taught me a lot about blogging and business in general.

1. Take a Fresh Approach

Regardless of how much success you have achieved in the past, there is no guarantee of the same in the future.

Early in the 2014-2015, Calipari began to experiment with a “platoon system.” With so many talented players on his roster, this was the best way to get every player involved. While line changes are common in hockey, it’s not seen very often on the basketball court.

While the was system was eventually abandoned later in the season, this unique approach proved successful. Kentucky didn’t lose a single game with this approach.

As your corporate blog grows, generating unique subject matter can be a challenge. This is why you need to take a fresh approach. This is why you need to think outside the box. Here are some tips for keeping things fresh:

  • Read what others are writing.
  • Take notes while reading other blogs.
  • Get feedback from your readers, customers, and prospects.
  • Get inspiration from others.
  • See what people are talking about on social media.

With the right approach, you can come up with hundreds of blog post ideas within a matter of hours. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you will feel once your editorial calendar is full 12 months in advance.

2. Do What You Do Best

Did you know that Calipari holds a 593-174 career record as a college coach? With a .773 winning percentage, he is clearly one of the top college coaches of all time.

But did you also know that Calipari suffered mightily at the NBA level? During three seasons as the coach of the New Jersey Nets, he compiled a record of 72-112.

After one year off, he returned to the college game at the University of Memphis. Soon enough, the program was a national title contender.

In business, you need to focus on what you do best. There is nothing wrong with expanding your horizons, but it is best to focus the majority of your time, money, and resources on the areas that have brought you the highest level of success in the past.

There is no way to entirely avoid every corporate blog mistake. However, you can cut back on errors by focusing on what you do best.

This is easier said than done for those who are new to creating this type of content. Here are the three things I tell every new corporate blogger who is struggling to find his or her identity:

  • Make a list of topics you are truly passionate about.
  • Don’t stray off the intended path until you are comfortable branching out.
  • Track your results as to ensure you are spending your resources wisely.

Tip: what you do best is not likely to be the same as the next person. This is what makes the online world so interesting. Two people can cover the same topic, with both providing unique insight. As long as you focus on what you do best, everything else will fall in line. Just look at what Calipari has accomplished at the college game since returning to the NBA. Maybe this is why he has turned down additional NBA offers since leaving the league more than 15 years ago.

3. Learn From Past Mistakes

Despite all his success, Calipari has faced many roadblocks along the way.

He has the distinction (and not a good one) of being the only college coach to have two Final Four trips vacated. While these setbacks, one at UMass and the other at Memphis, could have sunk him, he continued to build his resume. Rather than dwell on the past, he seemingly learned from his mistakes and is now in a better place as a result.

You can’t be successful in business without making mistakes. Some of the most successful companies and entrepreneurs of all time are also those who have made mistakes that will live on forever.

A single mistake will never kill your blog. That said, dwelling on the mistake is only going to make things worse in the long run. Here is what you need to do:

  • Identify the mistake.
  • Evaluate the situation, including what led to the mistake and the best remedy.
  • Implement a plan to avoid the same in the future.

Many companies, especially those that are new to blogging, make the mistake of generated content based on what their competition is doing. Regardless of industry, there will always be some overlap. What you want to avoid is continually following in the footsteps of your competitors.

This particular mistake can actually work in your favor over the long run, as you will eventually understand what it takes to generate unique content while beating others to the best stories and ideas.

4. Don’t Focus On a Single Goal

Every NCAA basketball team shares the same goal: to cut down the nets after the final game of the NCAA Tournament. Only one team has the joy of doing so. The others go home with nothing more than memories.

Calipari won a championship in 2012, his first as a coach. It is safe to assume that he has high hopes of adding more trophies to the case in the near future. Even so, he has made it clear that other goals are just as important.

A couple months after the season came to an end, Calipari had this to say when addressing a large crowd of supporters:

“Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted.”

Some fans were not happy with this statement. And of course, the media immediately ran with the story.

Regardless of your feelings, it shows one thing to be true: everybody can have more than one goal.

Winning may be job number one for college basketball coaches, Calipari included, but it is possible to set other goals at the same time.

What is the primary goal of your corporate blog? Most share the same answer: more sales.

This can be your number one goal, but don’t lose sight of everything else a blog can do for your business:

  • Generate traffic to your website.
  • Increase email subscribers.
  • Build brand awareness.
  • Act as a means of communicating news to your audience.
  • Build relationships with customers, prospects, and general readers.

You should always keep your eyes on the prize (regardless of what it may be). Just make sure you set other goals as well, as this will help you continue forward on your mission.

My advice: set one primary goal, as well as three to five secondary goals. Additionally, track your progress on a daily, monthly, and annual basis.

5. Surround Yourself With a Solid Support System

Do you think Calipari would be successful without the best players? Definitely not. Early in his career as a college coach, he decided to do whatever necessary to become a top-notch recruiter. This has paid off, time and time again.

Calipari consistently brings the best talent to the University of Kentucky. From John Wall to Anthony Davis, he knows what it takes to attract the best players. Subsequently, the results on the court follow.

Along with the top players, he doesn’t shy away from hiring the best assistants. John Robic, for example, has been coaching alongside Calipari for many years. The two first started working together during the 1988-1989 season, and Robic has been instrumental in his success at many stops along the way.

It is common for a company to put one person in charge of its blog. They expect this person to do all the work, from generating topics to creating content to promoting via social media. While one person may lead the charge, others are vital to the overall success of the blog. Consider bringing these people into the mix:

  • Company employees who can share a unique perspective on a particular topic.
  • Guest bloggers.
  • Freelance bloggers.
  • Customers who have had a positive experience.
  • Industry insiders.

It’s hard to achieve blogging success without the assistance of a solid support system. Calipari wouldn’t win any games with five “no name” players and an empty bench. On the same token, you won’t achieve great blogging success without the help of others.


Some people love John Calipari, but others don’t care for him. Forget about this for the time being. Instead, consider the lessons you can learn from one of the top coaches in the game.

Above are five corporate blogging techniques I learned from Calipari. Each one can help you achieve greater success with your company blog.

Have you ever picked up advice from anybody in the sports world?

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