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6 Copywriting Tips from NHL Dressing Room Clichés

It’s that time of year again. Pucks, sticks and sheets of ice – plus the inevitable avalanche of dressing room clichés that follow both wins and losses. Yes, NHL hockey has returned.

For decades, NHL players have done their best to recycle talking points, frequently even making the most experienced politicians look like amateurs. Full credit is due to the NHL’s media relations department; obviously everyone to ever play in the NHL has read the memo about the importance of staying on message. While it’s easy to make fun, there is actually a surprising amount of wisdom hiding inside these clichés. With a little digging, it’s easy to find a number of nuggets of copywriting wisdom that every entrepreneur should remember. Here are 6 of the best copywriting tips from the NHL.

"We need to get more pucks to the net"

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“We Need to Get More Pucks to the Net”

Likely the most popular cliché in the NHL, the obviousness of this one is what adds to the cringe factor. Of course it’s tough to score if the puck’s not going to the net on a regular basis, though it’s worth noting that it’s not impossible (see: Quick, Jonathan). Even though it’s a cliché, this one tends to be true. More often than not, a team that outshoots its opponent comes out on top.

Translation: Get to the point. When it comes to copywriting, directness is always virtue. Especially when it comes to your website, ensure that your content is consumable. In an era in which Yahoo has estimated that most website visitors tend to determine the usefulness of a web page in as little as 3 seconds, hitting home with your value propositions as concisely as possible has never been more important.

"We'll take things one shift at a time"

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“We’ll Take Things One Shift at a Time”

During the course of a hockey game, the average player takes about 20 shifts, so it’s unsurprising that NHLers think shift-to-shift. Throughout the course of a game, they’ll adapt on the fly and change tactics based on the progress of the game, pressing when behind, locking down defensively when ahead, or pushing for an insurance marker towards the end of the game.

Translation: Be methodical in your approach to copywriting. It’s vital to understand how your customers move through the sales cycle and develop marketing and sales materials that speak to them at every stage and in unique ways. For example, your landing page copy will be different in tone and substance from more advanced marketing materials like customer testimonials.

"We need to play a full 60 minutes"

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“We Need to Play a Full 60 Minutes”

This one typically gets thrown out when a team buries itself by coming slow out the gate or collapsing late in a game (as a Leafs fan, I’m well versed in this aspect of the game). Ultimately, when a team fails to take a complete approach night after night, the results usually reflect it.

Translation: Copywriting requires a comprehensive effort. Every part of your marketing and sales strategy depends on great copy that speaks to your audience, so it’s important not to neglect anything. It may not seem like it, but the contact page of your website is just as important as your home page, your blog, or your brochure. Your messaging must be consistent across platforms and mediums.

"We have to get back to playing our game"

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“We Have to Get Back to Playing Our Game”

When NHLers throw out this cliché, it’s usually because the opposing team has knocked them off their game. At the end of the day, everyone prefers to operate in environments in which they’re comfortable, and hockey players are no different.

Translation: Authenticity in your copywriting is important. Your copy should speak to your skill set, your strengths, and why you’re uniquely suited to solving a problem or set of problems for your customers. The best way to do this is through clear, consistent, and concise copy that starts with clear objectives.

"A two goal lead is the hardest to protect"

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“A Two Goal Lead is the Hardest to Protect”

If you’re not a big hockey fan, this one could be a little confusing. NHLers tend to turn to this cliché to highlight how uncomfortable it can be to get too comfortable. Teams that build up too much of a lead can often ease up and become vulnerable (again, as a Leafs fan I am all too familiar).

Translation: Avoid complacency. It’s important to sweat the little things when it comes to copywriting. Embracing the power of A/B testing for copy is the best way to ensure you’re continually optimizing your copy. If you’re looking for proof on how effective A/B copy testing can be, check out how Barack Obama’s election campaign used it to increase donation conversions by 49% and sign-up conversions by 161%.

"Big body presence"

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“Big Body Presence”

Alright, this last one may be less of a dressing room cliché and more of a Pierre Maguire-ism, but chances are if you’ve watched an NHL game in the last decade you’ve heard it. In Pierre Maguire’s mind, a “big body presence” is about having the physicality to target your opponents in the areas of the ice where it’s most important. It’s about the ability to hit home when and where it matters.

Translation: Craft compelling copy that hits hard on your customers’ pain points in the proper context with persuasiveness. Discussing your products or services is not nearly enough to be successful. While people have developed a tendency to tune out specs, it’s much, much harder to tune out emotion in context.

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can remember is to always take the puck to the net and give 110%.

Who knew NHLers knew so much about copywriting?


sam-brennand-photoSam Brennand

Marketing Manager at Venture Accelerator Partners

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