Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Hit'em Where They Ain't!"

"If at first you don't succeed...try shortstop."
-- Soupy Sales

It's April, and that means my annual salute to The National Pastime. While professional football has clearly taken over as the country's premier team sport for its grasp on virtually all media and revenue (forgetting the current NFL strife between millionaire players and billionaire owners), there is still something about the influence Baseball has played for the last 141 years on the shaping of our country.

Curiously, it is the only game where, almost randomly, the defense controls the ball (or puck?).  And it is the most democratic of all games -- anyone can be involved in a play at any time...and everyone gets to bat with an opportunity to score.  With neither height or weight having a bearing on the player's role.

I don't know about you Dads out there, but I bought my toddler son a glove well before I ever bought him a football. And I still own two gloves. (They're from the Pleistocene Era, but we won't get into that now...)

Welcome to the "BATTER UP!" edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

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

And along with it, some lessons we can apply to, yes, marketing.

A few years ago, I first 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 ever to play the game -- named Wee Willie Keeler. 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. (And now, of course, through various forms of social media.) 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 consider offering internal clinics to the staffs of Home Depot or Lowe's (think of all the lifting, stretching and bending those folks go through).

¶An etiquette consultant might consider aligning with a business or life coach to offer services to further their clients' business growth and social success.

¶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?

Again, something that perhaps your competition hasn't customarily done...

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.

By the way, did you know that, after "Happy Birthday," the second most sung ditty among Americans is..."Take Me Out to The Ballgame?"

See you again the first Tuesday of next month, with some "chin music" edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin
704.846.4835 office
704.575.8850 mobile
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