5 Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn From the World Series

It’s been an exciting few weeks for us here in San Francisco as we watched our hometown Giants go from clinching the wild-card spot in the playoffs to winning their third World Series Championship in five years. On Friday, we watched the celebration parade from our office, and on Saturday and Sunday, we finally began to wind down from a highly charged post-season.

Now, it’s Monday, and we’re almost ready to get back to business as usual. But we’re not quite ready to let go of this magical season yet, so we found a way to combine baseball with our other passion: B2B Marketing.

We came up with the following list of things B2B marketers can learn from the World Series, but feel free to send us additional suggestions by tweeting @Demandbase.

1. Strategy > tactics

There a clearly several talented players on the team, but the man behind the controls, manager Bruce Bochy, is the key to the Giants’ success. It’s essential to consider all the different elements of the game: the team, the timing, the offense, the defense, each player on the field and the team as a whole. Just like in B2B, it’s not about having a great plan for one part of your marketing, it’s about understanding how you perform across the lifecycle and having a multi-channel strategy.

2. Personalization is critical

An essential element of Bochy’s winning strategy is masterminding his player match-up approach and knowing how to pair pitchers with certain hitters. And that strategy trickles down to each player. The whole team needs to personalize their approach to each hitter; the defense shifts based on what they know about each opponent at bat. The same is absolutely true for B2B marketers. Without a customized, personalized message for each of their segments, they’re unlikely to move the needle or gain real traction against the competition.

3. You can’t do it without data

In baseball, every batter memorizes the scouting report on a pitcher before the game. This report informs them of the pitchers skill set, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses and prepares them for their at bat. The same is true for B2B marketers. They need to know their target accounts and identify the important attributes that can help dictate their game plan and knock it out of the park.

4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

You can’t win the World Series in one game, and although there’s the occasional sweep, great teams need to be prepared to stay strong and resilient for all seven championship games (not to mention the regular season and play-offs). In the World Series this year, it was anybody’s game right up until the final out of the seventh game. The same is true for B2B companies; you always need to be on right up until the deal is closed – and even after that to support your customers and turn them into advocates. In fact, for B2B marketers, there’s no such thing as an off-season.

5. It’s About Quality, not Quantity

When Madison Bumgarner left the bullpen and stepped onto the mound in the fifth inning of Game 7, no one expected he would finish the game. Not only did he pitch a surprising five innings, but he had a stellar game and became the series MVP. In fact, his performance across the entire series was almost superhuman, and Bochy admitted that he was a bit worried about allowing Bumgarner to finish rather than bringing a closer out of the Bullpen. It just proves that one extraordinary pitcher on the field can be more valuable than several just ok ones. The same is true for B2B companies when it comes to leads. Investing time and energy in a few great accounts will produce bigger wins than spreading resources across several (or several thousand) mediocre accounts.

*Special thanks to the World Series taskforce (@shariajohnston, @jimbohops, @ChrisSouza30 and @Ramon_Garcia415) for their contributions!