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Not The New York Yankees? Play Content Marketing Moneyball

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Picture this: you’re at a baseball stadium watching your favorite team on a nice, summer night. The game is tied, and it’s the bottom of the ninth inning. The bases are loaded, and there are two outs.

The batter steps up to the plate, and as the pressure to hit a home run for the books continues to mount, he swings and misses. Second pitch: another swing and a miss. And with the third pitch comes another strike – he’s out – and that’s the ball game.

The batter could have hit a single to win the game, yet he felt the pressure to go for the grand slam, and, unfortunately, it cost the team the game. Similarly, in content marketing, often businesses go for the “grand slam,” only to strike out.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a safe bet, yet companies continue to create and distribute content with the hopes of hitting it out of the park with a viral sensation – thinking that it’s the only way to reach content marketing ROI.

However, most would be better off just trying to get on base by publishing a piece of content that still achieves a business objective, but doesn’t necessarily make headlines doing it.

Content marketing, like baseball, can be a numbers game. Consider the 2001 Oakland Athletics. With a tight budget for talent and no star players, the team was able to win 20 straight games and make it to the playoffs by playing “moneyball” – acquiring underestimated players with strong on-base percentages rather than tons of home runs.

The Odds Of Hitting A Grand Slam

Businesses practicing content marketing can play moneyball, too. Since baseball is a statistician’s sport, let’s look at some statistics from the 2013 MLB season:

  • There were 166,070 total at bats.
  • There were 42,093 hits.
  • There were 4,661 home runs.
  • There were 95 grand slams.

From this data, we can say that about one in four at bats will result in a hit (which implies 3 out of 4 attempts were for naught), while about one in 36 at bats will result in a home run. Only one in 1,748 at bats results in a grand slam! This data shows that statistically it is better to work your way around the bases one single at a time.

However, I’m not suggesting that you lower the standard of your content. If you’re going to work your way around the bases, so to speak, the key is to actually get the base hit, and then keep getting more.

This means you must consistently produce and distribute compelling, engaging content that’s targeted to your audience. If you get a grand slam, that’s great! I just don’t recommend you base your content marketing plan on it.

How To Consistently Hit Singles

In order to be successful with content marketing moneyball, you need to regularly hit singles, and the best way do so is by publishing high quality, compelling content.

Get On Base By Being Interesting

No matter the business or the industry, every company can create interesting content. A common protest to content market is that “boring” industries can’t compete with others that are more inherently exciting, but that just isn’t the case. Consider these ideas:

  • Interview Noteworthy People: Sometimes, you need not look further than your own employees. However, you can also reach out to well-known subject matter experts for interview-style content. People relate to other people, so interviews can make for interesting content in any industry.
  • Make Thought-Provoking Comparisons: If you can compare your business or industry to another that IS intrinsically more interesting (baseball, anyone?), your content can potentially reach an even bigger audience, and keep that audience’s attention.
  • Embrace Controversy: Though you don’t want to polarize your audience by taking sides on a controversial topic, sometimes discussing a debated subject that relates back to your industry can drum up great conversation and generate buzz.

Load The Bases Through Education

Believe it or not, most people enjoy learning, and content marketing provides businesses the chance to educate their audiences. This is a particularly great opportunity for businesses in emerging markets and industries where creating awareness and teaching the audience is necessary in order to move people through the sales funnel.

People who are just starting to research solutions may not even fully comprehend the problem that needs to be solved, making education a key component of driving early-stage leads.

Additionally, as people move through the buy cycle, a different type of educational content is necessary: less about the problems and more about the solutions, even more specifically, the solutions you offer . It’s your job to educate your audience enough to influence a purchase decision with your company.

Score A Run With Helpful Content

Being helpful is one of the most important components of content marketing, and the businesses that make publishing helpful content a priority are the ones that win the game. Often times people start researching online to solve a problem or find an answer to a question. Sometimes, it’s something that can be easily solved by reading an article or watching a short video, and, in those situations, your business needs to be there with the answers.

Other times, no amount of content will be able to solve the problem at hand – and that is when people turn to the pros (that’s you!). If you help solve the smaller issues, who do you think the audience will remember when it’s time to solve a bigger one?

In Conclusion

Think back to the scene laid out at the beginning of this post. The game is tied and it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, with bases loaded and two outs. The batter steps up to the plate and hits a single – and your team takes home the win!

Are you upset that the batter didn’t get the grand slam, or are you happy to get the win? Chances are it’s the latter.

Similarly, in content marketing, businesses should focus on consistently hitting singles that lead to wins instead of potentially collapsing under the pressure of trying to hit a home run or grand slam. By creating and publishing content that is interesting, educational and helpful, you’ll be well on the way to earning a winning record.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

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