Baseball and Marketing, Game Winning Strategies

Bottom of the last inning of an away game, we were up by one run. Bases loaded with two outs. My son was called to the mound – a familiar scenario for both of my sons. They would ultimately have an impact on the outcome. Strategy: deep breath, look intently at the catcher for the sign, nod in agreement and fire the first pitch. Strike one, swinging. Strike two, looking. Strike three, swinging…and out number 3. We won! 

Baseball is much more than just a sport. The boys’ coach once told me that baseball is “a thinking man’s game.” As a marketing professional, I see a great deal of similarities between baseball and marketing. And the College World Series proves that both can create exhilarating moments, a range of emotions and potentially one crack of the bat away from a game-winning performance.

This year’s 2021 College World Series set new attendance records as fans were eager to return to TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska to watch the “Greatest Show on Dirt.” According to “There were three CWS attendance records this year: 361,711 for entire CWS, 72,266 for three-game champ series and 24,052 for game three.” Omaha was center stage for ESPN’s exclusive 16-game coverage providing a needed boost to the city’s economy, especially since the series was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID. The economic impact is expected to top 2019’s $88.3M impact.  Players and coaches, fans, local businesses and community members were excited and engaged. The venue was electric.

Are your marketing efforts electric with jaw-dropping (or game-changing) statistics? If you answered no, then let’s break down some fundamental similarities between baseball and marketing.

Coaches develop a strategic game plan. So do marketing professionals. One could argue baseball happens at a slower pace (than basketball for example). So does marketing. Strategies and creative content usually take time to develop. Baseball is a game where players implement, try, react, learn, repeat. Marketing is similar. Ideas are tested, focus groups are conducted and audience reaction is evaluated, sometimes requiring a change in the line up.

Let’s go back to the opening story with bases loaded and the game on the line. Is your marketing plan robust and fluid enough to weather the potential hits and come out with a win? 

Just as pinch hitters are substitutes for batters, marketing professionals use a variety of networking resources such as freelancers to “pinch hit” and advance projects. Freelancers provide additional areas of expertise to projects.

Stolen bases happen as a strategic move to catch the opposing team off guard. Likewise, astute marketers stay abreast of the latest news and trends and implement or adapt accordingly. Keeping a watchful eye on technology, digital trends, metrics and competition will prove advantageous today and in the future.   

In baseball, some view a strike-out as a negative. But when the average Division One college baseball player has a .320 batting average ( there’s going to be a lot of strikeouts. However, this provides an opportunity to study and better understand the game and the strategy behind it. Like college players, conceptual marketing strategies sometimes fail. But both baseball and marketing are focused on getting it right by continually going back to the drawing board. Through collaboration with teammates and making necessary adjustments, your team will have the fundamentals in place to come out swinging the next time up.

Do you have the right players, team and strategy in place for your marketing goals? Who will pinch hit to advance your projects? Who will make that steal so you can stay a base ahead of your competition? In a crowded marketing space, how do you effectively communicate to your audience, or to a stadium of 24,000-plus fans?

Focused and driven marketing professionals who surround themselves with creative, content and design experts are on track to create a winning scenario. Your marketing plan is on offense now with bases loaded.  Will you strike out or hit a grand slam?