Monday, December 30, 2013

How Baseball's ERA Concept Can Be Applied To Marketing


As 2013 comes to an end, I am reading quite a few year-end lists and best-of-the-best collections, as well as predictions for 2014. These are fun for me, and a great way to end one year and head into the next. I usually find a few gems from earlier in the year that I missed initially too.

One such gem is The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide To Being A Man from +Business Insider, which I came across in the following Google+ post by +Jesse Wojdylo last week:


The full list of man advice can be found here. The one that stuck out to me most I paraphrased in the Aroldis Chapman image above (using a font called "Play Ball". Ha!) The full piece of advice reads as follows: "You don't have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher's ERA means. Approach life similarly."

I thought for a moment about what this meant. I am a baseball fan, so a pitcher's ERA is something I'm familiar with. For those of you that are not, here is the formula:

Earned Run Average (ERA) = (Earned Runs / Innings Pitched) x 9

Basically, the ERA gives people an idea of how many runs a pitcher will give up to the other team if he were to pitch a complete game. Aroldis Chapman's ERA for the 2013 season was 2.54, meaning if he were to pitch a complete game (it would never happen, by the way) he would give up 2.54 runs on average.

Since pitchers pretty much ceased pitching complete games, this formula is a much better way of assessing effectiveness rather than straight wins and losses. 

To me, approaching life in a similar way means to take responsibility for the things under my control. Whenever I'm "in the game", I need to do all I can to make a positive impact, and allow others to rely on me as a capable leader.

Approaching marketing this way can be an effective way of thinking about your role too. Here are three things I came up with that sort of flesh out the idea of "ERA marketing" from both an offensive and defensive perspective:

  1. Always be Aware of Your Competitor - Market share is like runs scored. Marketing isn't all about offense though. Know your competition, and what their capabilities are. Build up your competitive advantage in the minds of consumers and ensure it's sustainable, so you keep and grow your share and prevent the other team from doing the same. 
  2. Marketing is a Team Sport - A pitcher can only do so much to control the game. It's impossible to strike everyone out all of the time. So, when that ball gets hit, it's the job of the rest of the team to field it. No room for errors here. The rest of the marketing team has to make sure the brand messaging is consistent at each touch point, and the sales force has to back that message up. Confusion, a lack of team work, and uncommitted players will lose games.
  3. Be a Leader - It's often up to the pitcher to set the pace of the game. Lower ERA's mean less runs are being scored. And, without your back against the wall, a brand can be free to go out and be creative on offense. Can your teammates rely on you to create more opportunities, and make the team more successful?