There’s a new book about baseball that I think many marketers can learn—or at least draw inspiration—from.
In “The Only Rule Is it Has to Work,” Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller recount taking command of an independent league baseball team, with the thought of trying every idea, sane or crazy, they could think of to gain a competitive advantage. For example: playing with four outfielders. They then judged each innovation they tried by one rule: it has to work.
Isn’t that the same ultimate measuring stick for a marketing activity? It has to work. In light of Lindbergh and Miller’s experimenting in baseball, consider if you’re experimenting enough in your marketing. Influencer William Tincup once told me that marketers need to be like scientists. Marketers need to think of new ideas, test them, measure them, and adjust.
At the same time, you still need to do a standout job at the fundamentals of marketing—creating strong messaging and quality content, for example—just as a baseball team can’t afford to let its fundamentals slip. Good fundamentals always pass the “it has to work” test.
In other words, fundamentals and new ideas both matter. Think of it as an equation:
Good Fundamentals + Successful New Ideas = Great Marketing Value
With this equation in mind, consider asking yourself the following questions on a regular basis:
- Are your current marketing activities too conservative?
- Are you at least occasionally trying new ideas in your marketing?
- What are three new ideas that you’ve tried recently?
- What are the top five ideas you haven’t tried? Why haven’t you tried them?
These are especially important questions if you’re an underdog in your industry or if your marketing budget is relatively small. It’s hard to compete with marquee brands at their own game; being innovative and creative is important for getting people to notice you.
Take another baseball story: “Moneyball.” You might recall that the Oakland Athletics annually had one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball, so their general manager, Billy Beane, knew they had to be different to compete. And different they were. Using statistical analysis, they identified and signed players whose skills were undervalued by the baseball marketplace, and created a better team for less money. The result: consistent playoff appearances, an American League-record 20-game winning streak, and an Oscar-nominated film.
So consider how you can update your marketing tactics and strategies. Be like Lindbergh and Miller. Be like Beane. Try new ideas.
After all, the only rule is, it has to work.
About the Author: Eric Anderson works with fisher VISTA clients to create compelling content. His previous experience includes eight years as a reporter and editor.