Billy Beane, Oakland A’s General Manager

Think Like a Sabermetrician and Make Your Marketing Plan Go “Yard!”

Billy Beane helped re-defined big league scouting using big data.  Beane and his crew (Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill if you saw the 2011 movie) used a strategy called Sabermetrics.  The team went beyond statistics like stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, and used an advanced analytic methodology to see baseball data differently.

Baseball jargon aside, the strategy produced some serious ROI. The 2002 Oakland Athletics had the third-lowest team payroll in the league, yet they won their division, set an American League record winning 20 consecutive games and produced the individual winner of the AL MVP (Miguel Tejada) and CY Young Award (Barry Zito).

Billy Beane kicked off a data driven movement in professional sports, producing numerous game changing insights and advances. Now, the annual M.I.T. Sloan Sports Analytics Conference serves as a forum to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry.

So, how can you create your Moneyball Marketing Moment?  Well, here are three simple tips courtesy of Billy Beane,  the 2002 Oakland A’s, and DMA:

Trust your team

Beane believed in Sabermetrics, so he hired a staff of baseball loving data nerds, instead of going the traditional route of hiring former players. Beane was no genius; rather he succeeded by putting the right people on his staff, and allowed them to flourish.  In the same way, today’s successful marketers are collaborating more than ever with their IT counterparts.

Trust your gut        

Despite being chided by competing teams and sports journalists, Beane remained committed to implementing a data-driven strategy in Sabermetrics. Beane quickly became an outsider within the baseball world, and likely put his career on the line. In spite of the pressure and scrutiny, he stuck by his decision without looking back.  Marketers can do the same thing by learning all they can about the rules that govern marketing data today – and applying them to their marketing practice.

Trust your data

Do not blindly trust what you think you know, or what someone who seems knowledgeable tells you. In baseball, Sabermetrics is about finding the answers for yourself and not relying on what feels right or what tradition tells us. Don’t be afraid to question assumptions or break down unnecessary barriers to success.  Leading data-driven marketers like Google, Microsoft, Netflix and others are increasingly turning to their data – not just for marketing purposes – but for product development as well.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, by that definition Billy Beane may have been the only sane man in baseball in 2002. Today, it’s more important than ever to approach marketing projects from every angle. Begin to see data differently – and see where it can take you.

You can see data differently at NCDM:  Where Marketing Meets Big Data.  Join us in Las Vegas from December 9 – 12.  Register at


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This is the seventh installment of the DMA “See Data Differently” series as part of our newly relaunched National Center for Data-Driven Marketing (NCDM).

Join us at our annual “big data” conference, NCDM: Where Marketing Meets Big Data, and SEE DATA DIFFERENTLY.

The National Center for Data-Driven Marketing program features new keynotes and exceptional speakers.  Join us at NCDM: Where Marketing Meets Big Data. December 9-11, 2013, Las Vegas, NV.

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