Don't Let The Fear of Striking Out Keep You From Playing The Marketing Game

Don't let the fear of striking out keep your company from playing the marketing game. Find what you should focus on to maximize your marketing ROI.

October 12, 2023

Babe Ruth set records for home runs in a season with 60 in 1927 and for a career with 714. Those records stood for decades, and baseball fans know Ruth was one of the greatest home run hitters ever. But not as many know that the Babe struck out 89 times in 1927 and 1,330 times in his career. 

So one of the greatest players of the 20th century stuck out a lot more often than he hit home runs. But Ruth wasn't embarrassed. He said, "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." 

He also said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." 

So, what does that tell us about marketing? How should we think about our failures? What does last month's underperforming campaign tell us about what we should try next month? How can we know if we are striking out too often?

Striking Out In Baseball and Marketing

Ruth played in an era where strikeouts were considered a disgrace. Most players optimized their strategy to avoid them at all costs. But Ruth struck out more than any other player in baseball in 5 separate seasons, including a career-high 93 strikeouts in 1923. But this didn't discredit his approach to batting. This "disgraceful" performance inspired a generation and changed the game forever. Because while Ruth struck out more than other players, he did more incredible things than anyone had done before. Within a few years, the star players copied his aggressive approach, and baseball has never been the same. In fact, 152 players struck out more than 93 times in 2022 alone. 

Before Ruth, most people looked to the number of strikeouts as a primary indicator of whether a player was performing. And it's certainly an important metric. If a player strikes out too often without accomplishing much, they won't help the team win more games. But Ruth proved that focusing too much on avoiding strikeouts prevented teams from scoring as much as possible. You must accept the risk of trying something great to do something great. Teams that swung for the fences scored more than teams that tried not to strike out. 

Marketers love statistics almost as much as baseball nerds. And just like in baseball, you'll draw the wrong conclusions if you optimize for the wrong statistics. The point of marketing isn't to avoid failed campaigns. It's to do as much good as possible while maximizing your return on marketing spend. 

Are you going to strike out now and then? Sure! If you don't, you probably didn't try anything worth trying. 

Should strikeouts be the overarching theme of your marketing efforts? Absolutely not! If you're always striking out, you're not learning from your failures. 

Strikeouts: How Often is Too Often

The scoreboard in marketing is called analytics. And just like teams that hit home runs score more often than teams that tried not to strike out, analytics help you make informed decisions about acceptable risk when trying something great. 

To make the most of your marketing, you should optimize for marketing's impact on revenue. Whether you measure this as ROAS (return on ad spend), ROMS (return on marketing spend), MQLs (marketing qualified leads), or some other revenue-oriented metric, you will make better decisions than if you simply try to minimize risk. Prioritizing marketing's impact on revenue helps you justify your overall marketing budget. And it sustains confidence even if an occasional campaign underperforms. 

So, how often is too often when it comes to striking out? That's the wrong question. A better question is, "How much revenue is your marketing generating?" 

Learn From Strikeouts

Strikeouts are learning opportunities. Use every miss as a chance to evaluate your strategy, adjust your stance, improve your swing, and master your technique.

In marketing, when a campaign doesn't yield the anticipated results, you can gain valuable insights into your target audience, product, and marketing tactics. You gain a clearer understanding of what does and doesn't work when you analyze a swing and a miss. This helps you take better swings in the future.


The bottom line is that if you study, optimize, and learn from each strategy you employ, your successes justify the effort when you swing and miss.  Successful companies aren't the ones that never fail. Successful companies are the ones that never quit. They alter strategies, learn from their misses, reinforce their teams, and practice relentlessly to win the game.

So, stay in the marketing game. You might strike out, but you could also hit that clutch home run. Swing fearlessly.

Would you like to find out how your company can swing for the fences without striking out every time? Contact us today to schedule a free strategy session. 

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