Silverpop - 5 Ways to Moneyball Your Marketing, According to Billy Beane
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5 Ways to Moneyball Your Marketing, According to Billy Beane

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
04 June 2013

As a marketer, what does it take for you to get on base with new buyers? What about scoring home runs with repeat customers? Critical indicators that tell you exactly what it takes for you to win often aren't what you think, according to Billy Beane, who keynoted at Silverpop's Amplify client conference in Atlanta last month.

As many know from Billy — or as he jokes, from Brad Pitt in Moneyball — we get nowhere when we make emotional decisions based on gut feelings. In this blog, I'll share five of Billy’s personal tips for marketers who want to drive disruptive performance.

1) Reverse the 80/20 principle. One of the big reasons Billy was able to take the A’s to the playoffs on the lowest payroll in the industry is because he hired players who could perform almost as well as the best at a fraction of the cost. For example, he paid $323,000 for one pitcher who saved seven runs, instead of $6.5 million for another who saved 24. From a marketing campaign perspective, do you know where you can get one-third of the results for one-twentieth of the cost?

2) Correlate wins and revenue. In baseball, many managers justify hiring a popular player because they think fans will come in droves to watch him play. But Billy believes the expense isn’t necessarily worth it. Fans don’t go to all 81 home games to watch their favorite player play, he says, they go when the team is winning. So you need to shift the paradigm to ask, “What does it takes for me to win?”

For Billy, this answer resided in knowing the cost of his players. Similarly, as a marketer you have to know how your campaigns — individually and overall — ultimately roll up into your total cost of sale. That’s why new automated marketing features like revenue attribution are so critical.

3) Use winners’ secrets from outside your circle. Every business should gather information from other successful companies, regardless of their industry, says Billy. Just as the A’s used best practices learned from the NFL and the NBA, Billy encourages marketers to learn from each other, particularly as best practices from the B2C and B2B worlds continue to converge. In the case of purchasing and using a marketing automation technology, make sure you have a vendor with equally extensive experience on both business sides of the fence — not just one or the other.

4) Work the odds in your favor. In baseball, a general manager knows he has 162 games to get to the playoffs, and that he can run a regression analysis to know his optimal spend to get there. Still, no matter how low or high his payroll, he only has a 15 percent chance of winning the championship, Billy noted.

Today’s marketer must navigate similar odds to win with customers. Do you know which channels, strategies, messages, offers and send times are best for engaging all your prospects and contacts every time? Of course not. That’s why it’s so important to track and respond to individual buyer behaviors as they happen. You can’t eliminate risk or randomness, as Billy said, not even with an unlimited budget. But when you’re responding to buyers individually in real time, you’re always in the best place to optimize your investment.

5) Know how to convince the doubters. Billy defined “the doubters” as those who overemphasize the importance of subjective opinion and experience. Just like sports fans, people in business can have visceral reactions to any idea, good or bad. That’s why testing, analytics, reports and intuitive dashboards are so important for today’s marketer. Without them, it’s impossible to achieve an objective explanation for your results and plan for more success going forward. Sure, that viral campaign worked wonders last year, but have you really learned enough to reproduce the same success again?

Conclusion: Hit a marketing home run
Above all, Billy advised the Amplify audience to avoid gut-based decisions. As he said, “the more data-driven decisions I make, the more objective I become.” This advice is particularly relevant for marketers. Insight is iterative. It improves over time, because each data point further refines your ability to develop better insight. Then, you can make even better decisions.

According to Billy, improving decisions over time hinges on having the right data, which hinges on having the right technology. There’s a reason his team was the first in the baseball industry to have a computer in the draft room. How effectively are you using your data to drive disruptive marketing performance?

Related Resources:
1) Blog: “4 Steps to Efficiently Manage Your Marketing Data
2) White Paper: “Vision, Skills, Data: Make the Most of Marketing Technology
3) Blog: “4 Ways to Serve Up Individualized Content on Your Website


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