Moneyball Marketing – grow faster while spending less

Moneyball Marketing - grow faster while spending lessAre you serious about growing your business? If so, you need to fundamentally rethink your company’s marketing approaches.

The way we communicate as a society has changed dramatically. Yet most companies’ marketing departments are still using approaches and metrics that were developed for traditional media. You need a new playbook.

Let’s review the facts:

  • Television: Younger consumers today spend more time online than they do watching TV. To reach those that are watching TV, the cost of a network GRP today is more than 10 times what it was in 1970 – and fewer people are paying attention as they zap commercials with DVRs and remotes.
  • Print: As readership drops 10%, 20% or more, newspapers are going belly up. As for magazines, unless you’re advertising on the iPad or Kindle edition, good luck.
  • Radio: Can you say Pandora, iTunes and Sirius-XM?

If you’re still advertising on traditional media, chances are your plan is inefficient and reaching older, less technology-savvy consumers.

Yet the top 100 advertisers in Advertising Age are still spending 70%+ of their ad budgets on traditional media.

As it has become more difficult and expensive to advertise to consumers using traditional tools, many marketers have become frustrated. But this is actually a great opportunity for those who can capitalize on this market inefficiency.

In “Moneyball,” Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane capitalized on inefficiencies in the market for ballplayers, identifying better evaluation metrics. Beane assembled a team that won 103 games – the same as the New York Yankees, who had three times the payroll.

Marketers, too, can take advantage of today’s fundamental marketplace inefficiencies by rethinking how to evaluate marketing and adopt a new set of metrics and approaches.

The key is to start by focusing on the most basic goal: Getting consumers to buy your product.

Get your objectives right

In “Moneyball,” Beane developed new metrics to evaluate ballplayers and identify under-valued talent.

This same issue exists today in marketing – companies are using old metrics like GRPs, impressions and CPM trying to replace TV, radio and print. But these old metrics do a poor job of identifying types of marketing most likely to drive sales.

To grow your business, your marketing must do one of three things:

A). Convert new users

B). Increase retention of existing users

C). Increase revenue per user

So your advertising plan should not be about replacing old media GRPs, but calculating how well your ads will do A, B and C.

It’s not about how your marketing looks – it’s about how your marketing works

Your focus needs to be on scoring runs (i.e. selling product) – not on worrying about star power.

Most marketers and agencies are too fixated on producing clever, beautiful ads instead of marketing that delivers a real payback. Many CEOs reward marketers and agencies that create slick ads which will convince shareholders and analysts they have great marketing. But that’s the wrong focus – your marketing needs to be all about selling product, and the ugly, unglamorous media are often more effective there.

There are many examples of companies that have built large businesses with unglamorous media:

  • Netflix created a $1 billion brand with postcards in DVD players and pay-per-click ads
  • Vitaminwater grew to $500 million through the power of local sampling programs
  • Muscle Milk grew to $200 million through sponsorships and multi-level marketing
  • Nutro Dog Food grew to $300 million with pet nutritionists stationed in pet stores
  • ProActiv Solution grew to $800 million through infomercials.

Many marketers look down upon non-conventional media and marketing, like infomercials.  The ads often aren’t pretty, and they don’t run in the coveted prime time slots. But they deliver results – or they’re quickly yanked off the air in favor of something that does sell.

The key to success is a constant focus on sales results vs. costs, plus testing and measuring results before expanding. Infomercial producers spend just enough on production to ensure they’re communicating their key message. They also buy remnant media for half of what traditional marketers pay. Anyone can buy remnant space if you put a website address or 800-number in your ad. Yet most traditional agencies see it as low class and don’t want to be associated with a brand or campaign that is “slumming it.”

Billy Beane was roundly criticized by the rest of the baseball world – including Oakland A’s fans – at the start of the 2002 season for bringing in a bunch of misfits everyone else had rejected. In the court of public opinion he would have been fired before he ever had a chance to see his vision through. But he stuck with it and eventually proved the critics wrong.

If you want to be a marketer that delivers results, the first question you need to ask yourself is:  Am I willing to do things that others might criticize, that might make me an outcast in the ad world, if it means achieving my sales goals?


As with any new program, the hardest part of Moneyball Marketing, undoubtedly, is how to implement it. And your biggest obstacle is likely the remnants of the “old school” model, those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo due to job security concerns.

The best way to overcome this is to select one small, forgotten brand or product and use it as a Moneyball test case. My company, GameChanger, has implemented tests for companies and achieved as much as 30% growth within a few months just by identifying testing new marketing approaches and measuring the results on sales. Getting success on one product line can build a case study for the rest of your company.

As I work with marketers in both large and small companies, I see a growing frustration with advertising that doesn’t work. Everyone is on a tight budget today. If you are serious about being successful, you can’t afford to keep wasting time and dollars pursuing marketing that doesn’t work. The time is ripe to become a Moneyball Marketer.

image credit:

Clearworks - Customers, Connections, Clarity

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Moneyball Marketing - grow faster while spending lessLarry Popelka is founder and CEO of GameChanger Products, an innovation consultancy based in Alameda, Calif. He can be reached at

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