I love everything about baseball. Nothing is more relaxing than watching a game where the fundamentals are executed flawlessly - a competitive game and a great outcome… well, I guess the outcome depends on who you are rooting for.  

It occurred to me the other day while coaching my son’s team, where all we do is teach fundamentals, that like baseball, fundamentals are equally important in marketing.  Specifically, Direct Marketing!

What other industry relies so heavily on the fundamentals to ensure a positive outcome? The basis of any successful campaign is “list, offer and creative,”  on par with baseball's “pitching, fielding and hitting.”

Just last month, Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game, something that has happened only 22 times in baseball’s 100+ year history.  Why did this happen? Flawless fundamentals!  There are numerous times marketing campaigns and baseball games fail when the basics are not followed.  Remember the ball rolling through Bill Buckner’s legs in the ‘86 World Series (sorry BoSox fans). I am sure you can remember a marketing campaign you had fail.  Oooooh, the pain!

However, as depicted on the big screen by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in the hit movie Moneyball, baseball has another similarity to direct marketing – data.  Data and statistics matter as much in baseball as they do in direct marketing.  In fact, I would argue that stats are the most important thing to any direct marketer. In fact on March 28th 2012, CMOSurvey.org conducted a survey on marketing spend, and from their research, budget dollars allocated to data analytics are expected to grow 60% in the next three years.  Why do you think every application, web visit, phone call, or text is being tracked?  It is so marketers can calculate the marketing equivalent to baseball’s OBP, BA, SP, OPS, ERA, WHIP, SB (do I need to go on?).

In baseball, stats decide who plays where, who hits when, how you position your defense and what pitches to throw.  In marketing, stats (or results as we call them), drive which list to use, the creative treatment to implement, what colors will increase a lift, who to target, what to say to each segment and how to position the offer.  When you study the data, uncover findings and integrate new nuggets, you will have a winning campaign. 

Focus on what we know makes a marketing campaign a success.  Direct marketing fundamentals and data. Any company regardless of budget or size will rise to the top.  The Athletics knew this when they set an American League record by winning 20 straight games.  And so do the Red Sox – how do you think they won the World Series in ’04 and ’07.  Bill James anyone… 

As you plan out your next marketing campaign or program, sit down and turn on a baseball game.  Watch how a successful team focuses on the fundamentals to win a game.  Then apply this philosophy to your next marketing program and I guarantee it will be a “Home Run!”