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What Marketers Can Learn From Moneyball

by Irv Shapiro  |  
May 15, 2013

Any CEO will tell you that running a company is a lot like running a sports team. You put together a strong team, give them the tools to become all-stars, and motivate them every step of the way to beat the competition.

But many businesses aren’t operating on an all-star budget; when a company is growing, the funds are tight and the stakes are high. As CEO, I’ve always thought of myself as my team’s GM and now–as we’ve entered baseball season–I’ve been thinking about the success of Billy Beane, who, as the general manager of the Oakland A’s, used one of the smallest budgets in Major League Baseball to drive the A’s to 20 consecutive victories and the playoffs.

I know more about business than I do about baseball, but that’s why the plight of the Oakland A’s is so inspiring. The strategies Beane employed that led to his team’s victories in 2002—the ones made famous in the book Moneyball (also the basis for a successful movie starring Brad Pitt)—are the very principles in which I have come to believe so strongly when it comes to building a successful company.

Marketers need to optimize their budget

A significant amount of your budget is probably spent on advertising, but if you’re unsure which ads are bringing in leads, the dollars you spend on those advertisements are wasted. Whether you’re advertising on your local cable station, a grocery store shopping cart, the radio, print, or the web, you need concrete proof of which ads are working and, more importantly, which ones aren’t. Unique call tracking numbers are critical when narrowing down the marketing efforts that are generating leads.

That simple information, gleaned from merely tracking your phone calls, could save you a significant amount of money and takes the guesswork out of your marketing analyses. With call tracking metrics, you know exactly, for example, how many of your phone calls come from PPC ads versus television ads. For example, if you’re spending big bucks on ads in local listings yet your metrics indicate they’re not generating any calls, you can stop wasting money on those ineffective advertisements. It’s too easy to keep increasing your PPC spend without knowing if these efforts are actually driving calls... but with the ability to track leads down to the keyword, you know exactly where the root of success is. That kind of data arms you with the information you need to construct the most effective campaigns—online and offline.

Marketers should take advantage of new channels

The beauty of marketing metrics is that they enable you to explore new channels and measure your results. With the ability to monitor your efforts, you may find that certain channels produce results that are unexpectedly successful. Like many companies, you may decide to explore social media platforms for lead-generation opportunities. But without metrics, you’re in the dark about their results. You have no way of telling if your foray into Twitter and Facebook actually produced any leads when metrics might have revealed to you that social media is driving more activity than any of your other channels. Metrics tell you what efforts you can save money on, but they also inform you of where to focus your budget more effectively. Don’t make marketing decisions based on what bigger businesses are doing; make those decisions based on what works for your company and your budget.

Marketers should search for insight into the effectiveness of their sales team

Your strategy might be solid, but what does your team look like? If the strategy is good—quality sources, relevant leads, good lead flow—but the leads aren’t converting, then it’s time to look at the players and see what needs to be optimized there. Quality metrics can show you the average time an agent spends on the phone with a lead, how quickly they’re responding to phone calls, and how many of their calls turn into customers. Depending on what your metrics tell you, you may need to make some adjustments to your processes, or to the team itself.

What set Beane apart from his peers was his ability to dig into the details: to look past big names and high salaries and into the repeatable, measurable activities that meant a winning season. Marketers must learn to do the same thing with their stats if they want to see the kind of success that made the story of Beane and the Oakland A’s famous. A metric-centric marketing strategy means a robust, data-rich view of your activities; a concrete understanding of what works and what doesn’t; and where you should be investing more of your budget.


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Irv Shapiro is CEO and CTO at DialogTech, a voice-based marketing automation company. He is responsible for overall business strategy and corporate leadership.

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  • by shelley Wed May 15, 2013 via blog

    If PPCs link to a website that has your phone number, how do you differentiate calls from PPCs vs people visiting the site?

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