What B2B Marketers Can Learn From a 14-Year Old Baseball Player

Over the past few months, I have most assuredly become a candidate for rotator cuff surgery.  This development is due to the countless number of pitches I have thrown to my son during batting practice in preparation for the upcoming high school baseball season.  Pitch after pitch he works to fine-tune his swing.  He also began throwing, working on his pitching mechanics.

What started out as a fun backyard activity when he was three, has become an obsession.  I’m a bit biased, but rarely have I seen this kind of discipline and single-mindedness in someone his age. Even at the age of 14, his laser focus, his desire and work ethic are all evidence of his love for the game.  It certainly will be fun working with him, watching him learn from his instructors and seeing him pursue his dream of playing in the big leagues.  On his journey he has come to understand a few key principles:

  1. Having been instructed on the fundamentals, he now has to build on them.
  2. Building on the fundamentals requires consistency and hard work.
  3. Becoming a better ballplayer does not happen overnight.

These are not just “baseball only” principles, they are also somewhat universal. And they certainly apply to B2B marketers who are looking to improve the value of marketing activity in their organization.

There is a misconception in B2B marketing today that marketing is easy.  All you have to do is buy a technology product, flip the switch, and be on your way to riches and glory.  Many are preaching that you can install your system and be launching engaging nurture streams to your ideal prospects within 45-days.  This is mythical thinking. Unfortunately, many companies are falling for it, only later to discover that they’ve wasted time and money chasing an illusion. Getting back to baseball: if a trainer told me that within 45-days he could retool my son’s swing and have him hitting .400, we wouldn’t have attended one lesson. Why? Because the claim is unrealistic.  Shouldn’t we take the same approach toward the promises being blared in the B2B universe?

While it may not be what impatient executives want to hear, they need to understand that transforming marketing so that it’s customer centric, process-based and measured by revenue, is not a simple task.  As one client recently told me, “This is a complete 180o turn from where we were. But long-term, this is where we need to be if we are to grow and survive.”  He’s absolutely right.

So if you’re interested in transforming your marketing organization the right way, remember these few key ideas:

  1. It’s not simple, but it’s worth it.
  2. It will take time.
  3. Things may be different at first.  ~ When my son began working with his hitting coach (who completely re-built his swing) he said, “Right now it feels weird, but in a few months it will feel completely natural.”
  4. It takes consistency and dedication.  There will be bumps in the road. The easy thing to do is go back to where you were… Don’t. Keep moving forward.
  5. Be realistic.  Don’t expect overnight results.  Make a plan, including milestones. Celebrate and evangelize as you reach them.
  6. Get help when you need it.  If you know where you want to go, but don’t know how to get there, find a resource (consultant, vendor, etc.) that can help you manage the transformation.

Quick and easy may work for recipes, but it doesn’t work in baseball or B2B marketing.  The sooner we dispel that notion, the faster we can begin the journey to improve.

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