When Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants stepped up to the plate to face Detroit's Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series, each player had a season full of data at his disposal—collected over 162 regular-season games. At home and on the road. Performance in day games compared to night games. In the heat of the summer and in the crisp autumn air.

Because of such valuable accumulation of information, Sandoval knew what pitches Verlander tended to throw in certain situations, and Verlander knew which areas of the strike zone Sandoval was most likely to get a hit.

As marketers, we can learn valuable lessons from both the Kung Fu Panda and the former American League MVP and Cy Young winner.

Lesson 1: Know what your heat map looks like

TV broadcasts are famous for displaying graphics to help audiences understand the game better. One of the best is a heat map that shows the areas of the strike zone where the batter is most effective. Maybe a batter likes the "high heat"—a high fastball—but can't lay off a breaking ball. Pitchers who study this information know where to throw the ball to have the most success.

Marketers, too, must know when and where they are most effective. A marketing heat map can help analyze the success of campaign ingredients. Start by listing all the different activities in your marketing lineup. Then, establish the criteria for three categories: hot, warm, and cold. Building these criteria, which can change from industry to industry and category to category, will give you the opportunity to tailor your definition of success.

The next step is the most time-consuming, but it is perhaps the most important. Using metrics from your recent marketing campaigns, drill down to the specific activities and analyze whether those activities are working for you. For example, if you are evaluating live events, you might decide to compare the total cost of attendance with the number of qualified leads. Since you've already established your scoring system, it'll be easy to assign a temperature to that category.

The result will be a heat map that shows where you are being the most effective and successful. That knowledge can be used to plan for new campaigns, tweak existing ones to be more effective, or make the decision to stop others.

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image of Scott Batchelor
Scott Batchelor is a manager of field marketing at SAS. He is responsible for directing marketing campaigns for several industry teams with a focus on increasing revenue. Reach him via LinkedIn.