Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.
Watching Major League Baseball’s All Star game last night I couldn’t help but think about all the lessons baseball teaches us that can be applied to blogging, marketing, business, and life in general. No other game (at least none I’m aware of) truly translates its teachings beyond the game.
After the game was over I started making notes for this post, but I decided it would be better to let others make my point for me. I’m not sure I could have made it through this post on my own without it turning into a passionate plea for why baseball is the greatest game ever invented anyway.
Some of you will certainly disagree, but chances are baseball still plays a part in your life.
You may never have seen a game or know the rules, but you likely know if you got to second base on your last date, thrown someone a curve, covered your bases, been in a pickle, or taken a rain check.
You’ve stuck out, hit the ball out of the park, and played hardball. No other sport so permeates the culture as the game of baseball.
How many phrases has your business contributed to the language?
I’m a seamhead, which for those of you not familiar with the term, is a person who can quote player statistics from a hundred years ago and relive details of a game seen more than 30 years ago as though it happened yesterday. I’m passionate about the game of baseball in a fanatical way, which brings me to my first point.
One Passionate Reader Is Worth More Than Thousands of Visitors
You should enter a ballpark the way you enter a church.
—Bill (Spaceman) Lee
You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.
—Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970
There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.
—Al Gallagher, 1971
Are you working to bring visitors into your site are are you working to make them passionate spokespersons for your brand? Not everyone likes the game of baseball. You can find all sorts of complaints from it taking too long to play to there not being enough action, but it doesn’t matter.
Those of us who are fans will continue to be brand evangelists as long as we live ensuring that the game will not only go on, but thrive.
Your Customers Control The Conversation
Baseball is the only sport I know that when you’re on offense, the other team controls the ball.
—Ken Harrelson, Sports Illustrated, 6 September 1976
Never forget it’s your customers who are in charge. You don’t have to bend over backwards to please every one, but your goal is to tailor your business to the needs and wants of the market, not the other way around.
You may be at bat and, but it’s your market that controls the ball.
Playing It Safe In Business Is Dangerous
No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
—Frederick B. Wilcox
Accept the fact that many of your idea will fail, but don’t let it stop you from trying. You have to take some risks if you want to get ahead. If you put enough out there you’re going to win some of the time in spite of yourself. Take a chance and take action if you want to succeed.
Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off… the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.
Don’t forget to swing hard, in case you hit the ball.
Again not everything you try will work and often your business or blog will feel like a struggle. But if you keep at it sooner or later an opportunity will present itself. Until then do what you can to prepare for that now unknown opportunity so when it does arrive you can capitalize on it.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of baseball’s wounds are self-inflicted.
—Bill Veeck, The Hustler’s Handbook
Your success or failure are in your control. If you fail don’t blame your competition or the market. It’s not about someone else happening to notice you and promoting you. It’s about you making sure they notice you in the first place.
If you make a mistake it’s ok. Own up to it and accept you made a mistake. Apologize, make things right, and move on. To err is human. To deny that fact will cause much more damage than admitting to it.
It’s Just Conjecture And It Ain’t Necessarily Easy
Well, boys, it’s a round ball and a round bat and you got to hit the ball square.
—Joe Schultz, 1969
There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them work.
—Charlie Lau, 1982
There are a lot of ways to make money online. Unfortunately no one can tell you precisely how to do it. Two people following the same strategy and tactics will not necessarily have the same results.
Listen to all the gurus you want. Learn from them and take their theories to heart. Just know that there are no guarantees. No one knows absolutely how to hit a knuckleball and know one knows absolutely how to be a success.
One person will tell you that nofollow is the secret sauce and the next person will tell you it’s rubbish. Content is king one day and links are king the next. Optimize your pages, but don’t optimize them too much.
Unless you’ve written the algorithm it’s all theory.
Can Your Customers Trust You To Be There?
Baseball is reassuring. It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.
—Sharon Olds, This Sporting Life, 1987
Baseball connects us across generations. Fathers play catch with their sons and daughters. Grandparents take you to a game and share stories of the heroes of of days gone by. Despite tweaks over the years, the games is still essentially played the same as it was over 150 years ago. We trust it to be played the same way tomorrow.
Does your business inspire that kind of trust and confidence? Are your readers familiar enough with your blogging voice to where they can hear you speaking about a subject that may never have crossed your blog. Do you meet their expectations? Do people believe they can buy from you without getting ripped off?
Are You Measuring Results?
Baseball fans love numbers. They love to swirl them around their mouths like Bordeaux wine.
Baseball is an island of activity amidst a sea of statistics.
Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything.
—Toby Harrah, 1983
Baseball fans are junkies, and their heroin is the statistic.
—Robert S. Wieder
Statistics are kept for most sports, but I don’t know any sport where the statistics are so integral to the enjoyment of the game.
Not so much words of advice, but a connection to analytics. If you aren’t measuring what’s happening on your site, why? Go out right now before you do anything else and sign up for Google Analytics or some other stats package and add the relevant code to your site. If you aren’t you’re just guessing.
Not everyone enjoys pouring over mountains of numbers and looking through them for patterns. I do and with 100% surety, I can tell you it comes from studying the backs of baseball cards with friends as a kid.
I’ll leave you with one last quote by one of the most quotable people to ever walk the planet, who just happened to be a baseball player.
It ain’t over till it’s over