Copywriting And Direct Marketing Master Class: Revelations From The Book Moneyball

“If you are going to pay these guys $150,000 a year to do this, we should at least know how good they are… “

Bill James

1977 Baseball Abstract.

“If you are going to spend $5,000 on a single trade journal ad, then we at least want to know how many responses we get.”

Zac Nelles’ direct marketing corollary.

That quote pretty much sums up why Bill James is so important to direct marketing. This isn’t new but it was the first time I was able to grasp just how powerful paying attention to the right information is.

Most of us have seen the movie Moneyball and are familiar with Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s ability to punch with the best despite one of the lowest salary caps in the league. What is not really covered in any great detail in the movie, are the men led by Bill James who make this possible.

When they are able to draft league leading hitters in the junk rounds of the draft, pluck pitchers out of ‘single A’ ball teams who are able to dominate at the Major League level, you have an unfair advantage. It is all done by knowing which stats reflect actual performance. The canonical stats used in baseball do not help – Beane and the A’s don’t use them and are able to beat better teams because of it.

By tracking your marketing you are able to punch above your weight.

You know that one version of an Ad will generate leads at $50 a pop while another at $25, when sent to the same list.

Which ad do you run and which do you scrap? Well you’d never know unless you pay attention to your stats.

All in all a simple thing to do but most of us blatantly ignore doing it. I just met with a client, who would tell me things like “we stopped doing ‘X’ because we weren’t happy with the results.”

“Why?”

“Just cos… “

No bothering with hard data, no rational decision – based on the fact that it increased costs by X and that was unacceptable.

Just an arbitrary decision. Many times, even though it is emotionally unappealing it may actually make statistical sense to do it.

Big data is just in its infancy outside of its own little world. The guy who can crunch numbers and pick statistical trends is more highly prized than the ad sales guy by many institutional marketers. Soon you’ll be competing against Moneyball operations with much deeper pockets than yours.

Then what could have been an edge for you will turn into a nightmare. People who know what they can spend to get a customer will bully the ignorant around.

You’ll still be able to create a better ad, you just need another skill before you can really take advantage of it.