When Jake Arrieta was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, he was the hopeful for the savior the team needed. Securing the highest paying fifth round draft contract, Arrieta was presumed to be a star. However, he quickly fell flat of everyone’s expectations, earning consistently high ERAs, or earned run average, an important metric used to judge a baseball pitcher. An above average ERA is typically below 4. Arrieta’s was 7.23 when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2013 mid-season for essentially nothing.
While the Orioles had the best of intentions, they committed a fatal flaw. They didn’t adapt to their player and what would help him succeed. They tried to change Arrieta. Instead of enhancing him, by changing their player they essentially doomed him to failure.
What’s a St. Louis agency doing writing a blog about a current Cubs player and, arguably, their star player at that?
Well, we can all learn a lot from the Orioles and the Cubs and their respective strategies for bringing out the best, or worst, in their players. When striving for success, don’t try to change your player’s way of thinking or what’s working-enhance them.
And by players, I mean your consumers. So many marketers and businesses start a marketing plan, strategy or website without their audience in mind. They might think of a great way to showcase their products, highlight why they’re different or their great culture.
But if a business doesn’t take into consideration its customers and what they want and are looking for, they’re going to end up striking out.
The Orioles tragic mistake cost them an excellent player. When acquiring Arrieta, a renowned workout warrior, his coaches changed his workout routine due to fear of wearing out the already aging (27) player. They changed the subtle mechanics of his pitch, causing him to get too inside his head. This player, who had all this potential, stepped up to the mound and just couldn’t deliver. They changed a very fundamental part of Arrieta, instead of being the benevolent guiding force to improvement.
When marketers don’t take into account their customers’ needs and wants, and instead force out a website or strategy that doesn’t satisfy those needs, their customers aren’t going to engage. The marketer will be left frustrated. They designed a beautiful website, executed a strategy perfectly and are still left confused and with low customer satisfaction.
How do we prevent and work against this? Just like the Cubs, look at the proof in the player- and the analytics.
Arrieta’s ERA was high. The Cubs coaches knew they had to change something so they let Arrieta resume his arduous and intensive workout routine, knowing it might wear the player out quicker, but with an ERA steadily increasing, it wouldn’t be worth it not to. The Cubs sent him back down to the minors where he reworked his mechanics into something he was more comfortable with, pitched more effectively and ultimately gained more confidence. The team adapted to their player. Immediately, Arrieta improved, earning a 3.66 ERA for the Cubs in the remainder of the 2013 season and continuing on to be one of the best pitchers of our age. Arrieta’s 2015 season ended with throwing a no-hitter against the Dodgers in August 2015, taking the Cubs to the NLDS and a 1.77 ERA.
So what can we learn from Arrieta and his amazing and rare transformation?
The goal is adaptability.
Be there when your consumers are looking, and guide them to your business. But if they aren’t biting, the problem could be you. Look at your site’s own ERA equivalent in Google Analytics. If it’s not satisfactory, make a change within yourself, website or organization, as the Cubs did, not to your players. It doesn’t have to be astronomical. Baseball is a game of inches and so is marketing. Don’t expect consumers to change to fit around your business. If you’re not willing to work with them, they’ll disappoint, but if you make that one pivotal change, well it could be extraordinary.
Are you striking out with your marketing and advertising efforts?
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