One of my subscribers, Ryan Saplan, sent me a video of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds talking about hitting in baseball—then and now—and he thought as a baseball fan, I would like it…and even be able to relate it to marketing.
I’ll try to do that for baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike
If you don’t want to watch all the “geekiness” about hitting a baseball (it’s about 20 minutes long), skip to the 12 minute mark where Bonds and Rodriguez share some insightful universals.
And whether you watch any of the video or not, I’ll share two insights I got from it:
1) How you become a “complete hitter” (or a “complete marketer”).
2) “The Double White Belt.”
Being a complete hitter…or “It’s the total package, not just a headline or subject line”
If you don’t know what’s happening in baseball today I will simplify it for you:
The players coming into the league today are being taught “launch angle” (i.e. “swinging up” a certain way in order to hit more home runs).
Bonds has a different angle (pun intended)…it’s detailed in the video…and he’s got the street cred for you to pay attention (if you are into this sort of thing).
Steroids or not, Barry Bonds was the most feared hitter in baseball when he played…I vaguely recall that a manager of the opposing team once intentionally walking him with the bases loaded (forcing in a run—unheard of)–but that was better than him driving in multiple runs with a hit (or a home run).
He finished his career with 762 home runs (and don’t tell me how many were steroids induced because we can still agree that he was as good a home run hitter as anybody)—but the difference with Bonds is that he also batted close to .300 (actually .298) which is a particular measuring stick for a great hitter…but not as revered as it once was.
(It is interesting that Bonds says in the interview that if he was playing today with all the “shifts” being employed–e.g. for Bonds the opposing team would probably put three infielders on one side of the infield and leave one on the right side, all playing deep. To that, Bonds said, “I would bunt [hit a ball softly on the infield] until I hit .400”)
Today it’s all about hitting home runs—even if you bat .250 or less—and “the killer package” of a complete hitter no longer includes batting average, or more importantly, runs scored and runs batted in.
But Rodriguez and Bonds make the case for the real “killer package” of a hitter—it’s when you combine home runs with runsscored and runs batted in (RBI’s).
Note: For those of you who know nothing about baseball, when you score more runs than the other team you win. It’s pretty straightforward.
Rodriguez and Bonds also agree that the best hitters should have a 4 to 1 ratio of homers to RBI’s, not 2 to 1, which is happening a lot today.
How does this relate to marketing?
It’s about writing the “home run sales letter” that has staying power (“a .300 average” to go with it plus runs scored and RBI’s).
That is, it’s got to have great leads, headlines, subject line—but the magic comes with the offer, premiums and all the other great content that makes a winning promotion.
The techniques available today (technology plus new, inexpensive media for example) has made us a bit lazy on the creative side—and as you know if you have been reading my posts, great copy and promotion is not written by amateurs.
The pain (and then the pleasure) for how a copywriter develops a promotion, through intense research and asking all of the questions no one else asks to achieve the best result, is not a commodity…it’s really hard work.
And the best writers haven’t been doing it for a year or two—they’ve put in the sweat to get to a point in their careers where they’ve seen it all—like Barry Bonds who has taken tens of thousands of swings to get to where he is.
The beginning of Chapter 2 of Overdeliver speaks to this last point:
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
This chapter’s opening quote is often attributed to Pablo Picasso . . . and the Dalai Lama. . . and Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr. It’s ironic, when we’re talking about the importance of original source, that we can’t attribute the quote to its original source (i.e., the person who said it).
Every lesson I learned throughout my career at Boardroom, and everything I’ve done since (including running high-end mastermind groups and consulting with companies to help them implement direct response principles in their marketing), has been based on original source material from the greatest marketers who ever lived. My first book, The Advertising Solution, profiled six of those greatest marketers, and their fingerprints are all over this book too. Believe it or not, all the marketing you’ve ever done is probably based on something they pioneered, even if you’ve never heard of them before.
When you recognize and understand the fundamentals of any field, you’re better equipped to innovate and break the rules of the particular game you’re playing.
Marketing is no different. If you don’t know the fundamentals, you might accidentally break the rules and get lucky, but you can’t rely on getting lucky.
Building a business that will keep its customers for a lifetime requires much more than the occasional successful fluke.And when you have a deep, intrinsic appreciation of the principles and strategies that were developed over the years by the titans of direct marketing, you get to stand on their shoulders. Taking what they learned (and proved over and over again), you build on foundations they laid, and what you create will be much more solid because these principles are timeless. They are still 100 percent relevant to today’s marketplace.
This might be obvious to you, but just in case it’s not, having a deep understanding of the fundamentals of direct response marketing from the pioneers who first implemented them will enable you to achieve better results with any and all marketing programs you work on today and into the future. You will be able to serve your customers in powerful, profitable ways without having to repeat the painful learning curves and costly errors that these entrepreneurs and marketers suffered before you.
In that chapter, I go on to outline the “5 Core Principles of Direct Response Marketing” and why Original Source matters (and not just for nostalgia).
If you have the book already, write to me and tell me if you can relate to them in the context of what Rodriguez and Bonds are talking about.
And if you haven’t gotten the book yet, buy it here so you can get all of the amazing bonus material at www.OverdeliverBook.com. (You’ll also want the video I talk about in the P.S. which is there too.)
The Double White Belt
I might be taking a little poetic license here—excuse me if I do (and feel free to correct me)—but I have surveyed quite a few black belts in various martial arts and they tell me it’s true.
And it works for what I want to relate here so that’s good enough for me. 🙂
Most of the martial arts have belts to mark achievement—from white to black—and lots of colors in-between.
(I’m a geek about baseball, not the martial arts—obviously).
But after you achieve your black belt (or 10th degree black belt), you get a white belt again (what I am calling the “double white belt” and it might be called that by some in the martial arts too).
In fact, a particular black belt told me that the symbolism is that “black fades to white”—I liked that.
I interpret the double white belt like this:
Now that you can kill someone with the touch of your hand, you have a moral responsibility to keep a “beginners mentality” and to never forget the basics and where you came from; and that you understand that you are now trusted that you won’t use those lethal techniques unless necessary.
Also: Now that you did it, you have an obligation to teach it.
What Barry Bonds is doing in the video is teaching from his double white belt.
Richard Viguerie does the same thing.
Who is Richard Viguerie? He is a direct marketer who virtually invented political direct marketing and fundraising and now that he in his mid-80’s he not only comes in to the office every day practicing and improving his craft, he is also teaching it to anyone who asks.
He’s got a “triple white belt” in my opinion in direct response marketing–and thank goodness for all of us he took on this noble obligation.
I had him speak multiple times at my Titans Mastermind and Titans Master Class and you can read what he shared most recently in The what and the who before the how—“The Four Horseman of Marketing.”
To take it one step further, I’m sure Richard could take many of his secrets and teach them to folks who could use them for evil…but of course he doesn’t (intentionally at least).
That’s the subtle piece regarding the responsibility of owning a double (or triple) white belt.
In short, I encourage all of you to become complete hitters and double white belts…it’s a path worth pursuing.
P.S. My good friend Bo Eason—who was featured on video in my opening presentation at The Titans Of Direct Response —just came out with a new book, There’s No Plan B For Your A Game.
If you’ve ever seen Bo speak—or attended one of his events where he teaches how to present powerfully—you know that this former football player is not just another pretty face (or body :)).
You can watch his tribute to the greatest football player ever, Jerry Rice, on the Overdeliver bonus page (It’s the first video in Bonus #1)…or you can just grab Bo’s portion here. (Wait for it to load…it’s a big file.)
His book is available here…it’s fantastic. And I’m not getting anything for this…I just think it’s a great book.
P.P.S. Bo will be a featured speaker at my Titans Mastermind next January in Austin, Texas—along with Ryan Levesque and Yanik Silver (so far).
If you are interested in applying for Titans Mastermind (or Titans Master Class, which meets in Arizona in November with Jay Abraham and many other amazing speakers), fill out the short application at www.titansmasterclass.com and we can arrange an interview.