Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Hit 'em Where They Ain't"

Jacques Barzun is a French-born American historian of ideas and culture, who once famously said "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball..."

It's that time of year, boys and girls, when The Greatest Game Ever Invented is upon us to officially begin its 110th season as our National Pastime. And along with it, some lessons we can apply to, yes, marketing.

Welcome to the "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

A few years ago, I pitched this article to the readers of this column. Here's the replay:

There was a baseball player around the turn of the century -- at 5',4" the shortest to ever to play the game -- named Wee Willie Keeler. Click here: Willie Keeler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Known for perfecting the "Baltimore Chop," whenever Willie stepped to the plate the chant would ring out, “Hit’em where they ain’t!”

The meaning was simplistically clear: hit the ball where the fielders WEREN’T positioned, to improve the chances for getting a base hit.

What if, metaphorically speaking, you could “hit” your target markets…where your competition “ain’t?”

Most businesses – however small or large – tend to market themselves through the standard avenues…the local newspaper, the local weekly, radio, TV, et al. And buckshot mailings to one’s database of clients, colleagues and friends. Chances are that your industry counterparts are doing mostly that same thing.

Maybe the next time you’re “at bat,” consider going – pardon the pun – farther afield. That is, think about hitting those markets not just among your primary audience but also to the outer periphery of your spheres of influence.

A CPA, for instance – whose services are needed by virtually everyone – can make herself the go-to professional with the local remodelers trade association. A chiropractor might want to approach the public library system (think of all that stretching and bending all day long by the staff just to put books away) with clinics exclusively for that organization. A sometime caricature artist might join a wedding and event planners organization to be their unique source of party entertainment. (Hey wait a minute, that's me..!)

For that matter, maybe there’s a hobby you have, or a weekend passion you love, that can be parlayed into a business opportunity -- by providing your services to fellow aficionados. Do these enthusiasts have associations? Do they have meetings? Do they have means, i.e. literature or promotional materials, by which they communicate with one another…and in which you can contribute an ad or, better yet, an informative article?

Next time you grab that metaphorical bat and stand in the box…you may want to think outside of it every now and then. And hit’em where they -- your competition -- likely ain’t.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month, with another slugging edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

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