Play Ball! 4 Digital Marketing Lessons from Baseball
The baseball season started a few weeks ago, and I’m a baseball guy – a digital marketing guy too, but you know that. I played in high school, made the team in college (Division III), and helped coach the team that my boss’ kid played for a while ago. I’ve also been a fantasy baseball guy since college – when I was the first student allowed into the faculty/staff league.
Four Lessons from Our National Pastime That Relate to the World Of Digital Marketing
It was my role as bench warmer that has proved to be the most valuable for me in my post-playing career years. Sitting there cheering on my teammates and watching all those games provided me with insights into the game that carry over into real life – and marketing, too.
Digital Marketing Strategy from Home Plate
1 – A hitter needs a customized strategy every time at bat.
Some players like to go up there, clear their mind, and hack away at whatever the pitcher throws. And some like to watch every pitch carefully, trying to “work the count” and annoy the pitcher so they get tired and/or careless.
A smart hitter knows when to be aggressive and when to wait for the right pitch, and also knows when to be flexible and “go the other way” – trying to hit the ball in an unexpected direction.
How does this relate to marketing? Having a variety of strategies, a specific approach, and your end goals in mind help prepare you for whatever challenges and opportunities come your way. Knowing when to be aggressive or conservative and having a sound game plan help ensure that you stay on track.
Digital Marketing Strategy from the Mound
2 – A pitcher needs a strategy to handle every kind of hitter.
There’s a big difference between a “thrower” and a “pitcher.” A thrower might be supremely gifted with a strong arm and a blazing fastball, but a pitcher knows how to use their talents effectively – and understands that more often than not, successful pitching is about using control and deception.
Knowing what kind of pitch to throw – and where to locate it – is something that the true greats of the game have known how to do. Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux was a dominant pitcher for 23 seasons but never relied on just a power fastball. Rather, he had an arsenal of pitches and exceptional control that he used to locate his pitches where hitters would either swing and miss or barely get the bat on the ball.
How does this relate to marketing? It might not be the flashy, big-budget tactics that help you succeed in marketing campaigns. Instead, focus on targeted, strategic efforts – and leave room for flexibility. It might be a unique mix of tactics – executed perfectly – that leads to great success.
Digital Marketing Strategy from Managers & Coaches
3 – A manager/coach needs to know their players’ abilities and how to maximize them.
No matter what level of play – from Little League to the Big Leagues – a manager/coach has to put together the best possible starting lineup with the talent on their roster. Usually it’s based on role – the leadoff hitter should be able to get on base and have the speed to steal bases; the second hitter should be skilled enough to hit the ball so as to move up any runner; and the cleanup hitter (4th in the lineup) should have enough power to hit the ball deep enough to score some runs.
These are part of the standard – but not “set in stone” – lineup structure. What may work for one team’s roster might not work for another; also, a team blessed with many speedy players and few power hitters might need to employ a different overall strategy and play “small ball” – which involves almost everyone in the lineup trying to emulate the leadoff hitter style. But a team with lots of power and little speed might have everyone taking big home run swings all the time.
How does this relate to marketing? Knowing your strengths and playing them up is essential for success. If your team is full of creative geniuses, set them loose and develop campaigns built around great creative work. Stacked with strategic minds? Focus on smart, effective strategy that can work even if the creative isn’t mind-blowing. Of course, the best-case scenario is having a balanced team where creativity and strategy work together.
Be Ready to Switch Up
4 – In every game that’s played, anything can happen.
This is a widely-accepted belief about baseball, where you might see an unassisted triple play (one player making all three outs), or one player playing a new position every inning, or one batter hitting four home runs in one game.
Or more commonly, your pitcher might have a bad night, and you need to take them out after just an inning or two; you’ll need a strong, durable bullpen to take over for the rest of the game. I recall a game in 1989 where my hometown Phillies overcame a 10-run deficit to come back and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. When things don’t go to plan, you need to be able to adapt and still try to win – even if it’s overcoming huge obstacles.
How does this relate to marketing? Good or bad, anything can happen – in baseball, in marketing, and in life. Your ability to be flexible and adjust to whatever the conditions are will greatly affect the success of your marketing efforts.
An interesting footnote about that Phillies win I mentioned above – a Pittsburgh broadcaster said he’d walk back from Philadelphia if the Pirates lost that game. After they did, he decided to turn the situation into a positive one – it became a 300-mile charity walk after the season!
Have any sports-related lessons for your fellow marketers? Any home-run ideas for online success? Post in the comments below. And please share this blog with your social networks if you found it interesting!