Lessons From Moneyball About Marketing, Profits and Business.
I love watching Moneyball. Yes, my wife thinks it’s boring, but I have seen it 3 times and still can’t get enough. It is a story about perseverance, numbers, consistency and a bit of luck. The kind of luck that comes when preparation meets opportunity. The movie is also about how sticking to a plan can produce victory.
The Moneyball plot goes like this: Before the 2002 season, the Oakland A’s had one of the smallest payrolls in baseball, had lost key players to free agency, and team ownership expected them to compete with the big teams like the Angels, Rangers, and Yankees. Billy Beane, the general manager, had a choice – do the same thing as the rest of the league and accept his fate or be bold and try something different to create a better outcome. The results were incredible and revolutionized baseball. The A’s became the first team in over a 100 years in the American League to win 20 straight games.
What changed? The A’s still had a small payroll and few resources. It was Billy Beane’s approach that changed.
Lets start there.
Moneyball Teaches us To:
The majority isn’t always right, yet we tend to accept that since everyone else is doing it then it must be right. Well, that can be a recipe for disaster. Billy Beane was forced to think differently about the game of baseball. He didn’t have a huge budget to lure top players like big market teams. He didn’t have lucrative TV deals and sponsors to generate the resources similar to other clubs. If he was going toe to toe with the competition, doing things the way they did, the A’s were doomed to fail.
So… he focused on what he did have – a great minor league farm system, all the data he could want on players, and the authority to change things up.
Billy’s unique approach changed the team’s priorities, analyzed data differently and focused where the competition wasn’t, such as spending more time looking for great high school players. Billy didn’t blindly follow the rest of baseball, or even listen to his own scouts, instead he looked for a new way to do things to create better results.
Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) hired an assistant who looked at the numbers and not the players. While the rest of the league was obsessed with home runs and batting average, the A’s focus was on base percentage, reducing errors, and favoring matchups that resulted in more wins. Billy wasn’t just looking at numbers differently, he was also looking at the right numbers.
Often times we get so distracted by things that have nothing do with actual performance – in this case, how stable a player’s relationship was with his girlfriend (that was in the movie, btw). By looking at the actual numbers you will see what is really working. If a webpage gives you a 5% conversion rate compared to 2%, does it really matter what the page looks like? Stick to the actual numbers and not the eye. It can be deceiving. For business it is all about the results regardless of what your circumstances or challenges may be.
Results are the name of the game. The movie Moneyball would have never hit the theaters if the Oakland A’s did not achieve results. The same goes for your business. It’s not about traffic, likes, tweets etc. It is about the results – wins! Do what works for you business and if you have not discovered it yet, keep planting the seeds until the success that really matters starts to come. Also remember to hire and surround yourself with people that get results – no matter their age, gender, nationality or sleep habits.
“Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.”
– Billy Beane from the movie Moneyball
Let me illustrate this by a typical conversation I have with business owners.
Me: What are you looking for?
Business: We need to get to the top of Google. Our business is struggling and our numbers are looking ugly. What can you do for me?
Me: Is your goal to get to the top of Google or to get more sales?
Business: Well both, we are looking for SEO experts who can get us to the top.
Me. Getting on page 1 of Google can take a lot of content, time and research. It may or may not produce the conversion. What kind of budget are you setting aside for this?
Business: Well I have my cousin who is charging $500 a month to put me on the first page of Google. We have been with him for 10 months and have not seen much traffic.
Me. Here is the thing; you do not need an SEO guy. Most of them do not understand business. You need sales. Getting to page one of Google may or may not produce sales. You need to research then test, and then test some more. Find out what is actually producing results. You need to capture leads, nurture leads and then convert those leads into loyal customers. Your online marketing efforts need to be focused on results, not hitting page one of Google. Page one of Google will come automatically if you put in the right system.
Make a Plan and See It Through
Once the system is put into place you have to trust that it will work. The Oakland A’s won 20 consecutive games all because Billy Beane had some faith in the system he created. He didn’t cave when ownership started asking questions or the press second-guessed his moves. He stayed the course and the results did come… in a big way!
In marketing you have to have a little faith and some patience too. It’s tempting to instantly jump on board when the next new rookie comes to town – Don’t do it! Why dive into Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter just to leave it all behind for the “next big thing”? Moneyball teaches us to stick to the plan until you see it through.
Stick to the task ’till it sticks to you,
Beginners are many but enders are few.
Honor, power, place and praise
Will come in time to the one who stays.
Stick to the task ’till it sticks to you,
Bend at it, sweat at it, and smile at it too.
For out of the bend, the sweat, and the smile,
Will come life’s victory after awhile.
– Thomas S. Monson
Believe in the System (believe in yourself)
What is the best attribute of a winner? Let me put it this way. I’m a winner and people often times come to me for advice. Why do they? Well, it is not because of my good looks. It is because I believe that I deserve to win no matter the barriers.
“Winners have developed a strong sense of self-worth, regardless of their status. They weren’t necessarily born with these good feelings, but they’ve learned to like themselves through practice.”
– The Key to Winning by Dennis Waitley
The simple practice of believing in yourself will propel you to put in the necessary effort to do what it takes to win. It’s not easy and the first guy through the wall usually gets bloody. There will be opposition, resistance and challenges – count on it. Your belief in the system will be the strength to help get you through to the other side when others are saying “give up”, or “it’s time for something else”.
Oh, and by the way, Billy Beane is still the manager of the Oakland A’s and recently had his contract extended to 2019. The A’s are in the playoffs again this year while the Yankees, Angels and Rangers are all watching from the stands. Think his system still works? Yep, it sure does.
Until next time this is Jace Vernon signing off. Keep up the amazing work and remember to do business the Moneyball way!