Moneyball and a Social Business Culture of Content Marketing

I am Jonah Hill.

Seriously, that’s what went through my mind when I watched Moneyball. Not because I have any of the credentials like his character in the movie but more so because I related to his struggle:

  • crazy ideas versus how everybody sees the game
  • passion and belief vs personal insecurities

There are so many awesome parallels between the story of the Oakland A’s journey chronicled in the movie Moneyball and the story of companies embracing social business transformation and a culture of content marketing that I just HAD to write about it. It is more than just metrics. It is strategy plus culture.

Let me explain.

moneyball social business culture

Moneyball Basics

Just in case you didn’t see Moneyball, here is the gist:

  • Movie based on the true story of the Oakland A’s 2002 season
  • Team loses all their best players and has to rebuild with embarrassingly small budget
  • Brad Pitt plays the team’s General Manager, Billy Beane, who carries the daunting burden of rebuilding a winning team with a losers budget
  • Jonah Hill plays the intern-turned-assistant-GM, Peter Brand, who has radical new ideas about how to win
  • It is an inspiring David versus Goliath story… Big budget versus tiny budget… New way of thinking vs the way everyone else plays the game

A social business culture of content marketing is very much the same! An inspiring David versus Goliath story. Big Budget versus tiny budget. A new way of thinking versus the way everyone else plays the game.

So here’s my take on the examples from Moneyball that teach us a thing or two about inspiring a social business culture of content marketing.

See the Game in a Whole New Way

Moneyball Example - Peter Brand is the visionary who introduces Billy Beane to seeing the game of baseball in a whole new way. Peter understands that the goal should not be about spending big money on superstar players. The goal should be to buy wins. With that in mind, he boils it down to getting runs and valuing players in a whole new way based on a single statistic, their on base percentage (OBP).

Social Business Parallel – Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, talks about an equivalent stat for small businesses embracing content marketing. Just like OBP, Marcus has figured out that there is a “tipping point” stat for page views on his own website. Prospects who view 30+ web pages result in an 80% close rate on sales calls. Knowing that one powerful statistic inspired a major overhaul to his sales process and has lead to significant results for his company.

Believe Despite all Odds

Moneyball Example – Peter actually sees the Oakland A’s budgetary limitations as opening up a whole host of possibilities for success. I, for one, absolutely adore his optimism despite the odds. Peter truly BELIEVES there exists a championship team that they can afford… an “island of misfit toys” that has more value than anyone else sees.

Social Business Parallel – Maybe you feel the burden of major budgetary limitations too. Maybe you’re a small business going up against big corporations. Whatever odds are stacked against you, embrace them and do not accept them as limiting. Instead, utilize them to get more creative, adventurous and nimble. Believe in making your “challenges” your greatest opportunities for significant transformation.

Island of Misfit Toys

Moneyball Example – With OBP as the deciding criteria, each of the superstar positions on the team are filled by unexpected choices: an old guy, a pitcher who throws funny and a guy who can’t throw the ball at all. What seems like an ensemble of “misfit toys” to most (even to the players themselves) eventually proves to be a great team of contributors.

Social Business Parallel – Want to know how to make this same transformation take place with your cast of characters? Be a leader. Be transparent about why you chose people to be part of your team. Instill confidence in them. Remind them what their specific contribution is. Help individuals face their fears and find their brilliance.

Go ALL IN

Moneyball Example – At first the team suffers a string of embarrassing losses because the OBP vision isn’t shared by all. Silos exist between GM and coach. Management is distant from the players. Then the moment of truth and Billy realizes if he really believes in this vision, he has to make it happen big. He trades players, he gives the coach no option but to follow and he gets involved with every individual on the team. The entire team culture had to be transformed.

Social Business ParallelStrategy plus culture matters. What’s keeping your business from going “all in” with social business transformation? What do you need to do in order to “burn the ships” and fully commit to one vision? Are you involving everyone? Does your culture make your strategy more effective? Believe in something unique and commit wholeheartedly.

Success

Moneyball Example -In the end, Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s do not win the World Series. But despite their devastating loss, in many ways they actually won pretty big. Success may look different than you imagine.

This point is driven home by an awesome example at the end of the movie. It is a clip of a minor league player’s attempt to run to second base. In the video, the player who never runs to second, finally goes for it… and then falls flat on his face. Ouch. Feels like a terrible nightmare, right? Turns out, the player who was so focused on getting to second base, in reality, had hit a home run! He was actually far more successful than he dared imagine.

Social Business Parallel – The lesson here is that success may look different than we expected. The impact of your social business may even be far greater than you will ever realize. So the A’s didn’t win the Series… but in many ways they were surprisingly successful:

  • Their formula worked
  • They figured out that statistics plus culture matters
  • Unexpected heroes emerged to lead the team to numerous wins
  • They broke the record for the longest winning streak
  • They inspired fans and they inspired one another
  • They changed the game

Your Turn

Is your company attempting Moneyball-like marketing strategies? How are you changing the game? Which character in the movie do you relate to? Do you agree that strategy plus culture makes all the difference?

Comments

  1. Nice article Krista and nice analogy. You can have the strategy but the culture, yes the culture is the sticking point. I’ve been doing videos on my own trying to get corporate to see the strategy and maybe embrace the culture.

    I have been impressed that your company has embraced in an industry that typically doesn’t look that way…I hope we quickly not only see strategy and tactics but embrace a culture where you can play ball with anyone.

    How do you embrace the culture, guess like my parents on explaining some far off place..you keep bringing them souvenirs and talk about how great a place it is..Maybe they’ll jump in their own car and visit. Or maybe it’s a case of them experiencing enough pain of competitors taking market share. We shall see..

    Thanks again, great article.
    joe recently posted..Keeping Cool for a Living (Portable Air conditioners are a key)My Profile

    • kristakotrla says:

      Thank you for the compliments, Joe. And GOOD FOR YOU doing videos! Keep trying to make ‘em see the light. Don’t stop trying to help them see what’s in it for them. Hang in there and be a warrior of enthusiasm! :-)

      –kk

  2. Chris Gaffney says:

    Nice article, I admire your unique approach and enthusiasm!

    • kristakotrla says:

      Thank you so much, Chris! Really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Hope the content helped you out in some small way!

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