Major League Baseball Can’t Talk to Me

Allow customers to support and engage your brand at different levels in marketing communications. Not all customers are extreme fans. As much as you’d like all customers to be extreme fans engaging them that way is likely counterproductive.

Take Me Out to the Baseball

I’m a bit of a casual fan of baseball. I would happily be more engaged. I just happen to live in the wrong hemisphere to spend much time on the game.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I had a chance to go AT&T Park to watch the Giants lose to the Dodgers in a great game in a great environment. It was an amazing day. I would happily repeat the experience.

Talking Baseball

So where’s the issue?

Buying my game ticket online there was an option to opt out of receiving an email of news & marketing from Major League Baseball and the San Francisco Giants. There’s not much baseball news in Australia.  Against my usual practice, I opted in to email marketing.

I was struck immediately by the passionate tone of the emails that flowed and their determination that I must be a diehard Giants fanatic. Apparently, I needed prompting several times a week to participate in club activities, to purchase MLB services from partners and to attend every game. I had invitations to vote for players in awards that I didn’t know existed. I was offered lots of products I can’t buy and discounts I can’t use.

Of course, I ended up unsubscribing because what was missing was any news or marketing relevant to a curious casual fan of the game living on the other side of the world. Even if I had been as passionate as they seemed to expect, I just couldn’t do anything they asked. There were no relevant calls to action and no content that wasn’t a call to action.

Passionate Fans Matter

Everyone should cater to the passionate fan. By all means cater to their every need. We all like to think that talking passionately about our brand will rub off. It might. If that all you do, it can be counterproductive.

Plan for the Less Passionate Too

I was left with the impression that the curious, casual or distant fan segment is missing from the Major League Baseball email marketing plan. Maybe baseball don’t need this segment in email or it is not profitable enough. Maybe growing the brands engagement with travellers or those with a casual interest is not on the agenda. The issue is that baseball will now never know what might have been possible.

Build Engagement with Segmented Calls to Action

Every brand needs to segment its calls to action in every channel. Always allow options for the less engaged or those building engagement with your brand. Given your customers and potential fans meaningful ways to build engagement.

If you don’t, the only option for a hard won prospect (and potential future hardcore fan) is to unsubscribe.

Post Script on Social Marketing

Interestingly, the strategy around @SFGiants twitter account is much more accessible to a fan who wants to build engagement. Then perhaps they know that many of the half million followers will never have bought a ticket.

Talk Like a Customer

Every moment of every customer or employee experience matters. Talk like a real person, your customer. What you say sends a big signal.

We all know the moment. The moment a starts talking generic corporate speak to us. Often we are so used to these meaningless generic moments they are almost a parody

– “we apologies for the inconvenience”
– “your call is important to us”
– “because your safety is important to us…”
– “our operators are waiting for your call”
– “it’s not personal”
– “policy says…”
– “buy now and as a special offer we will throw in free steak knives”
– “satisfaction guaranteed”
– “have you tried restarting the computer”
– “thank you for your business”
– “is there anything I can help you with”
– “operational issues require…”
– “the assets of this business walk out the door at the end of each day”
– and many more

Don’t use these words. Stop. Every moment you use a generic phrase you remind customers and your people that you are just like everyone else. Every time an employee has to say one of these things you run a big risk that they stare blankly into space and disengage from the customer and from you. You have declared to your customers and employees that there is absolutely nothing special or unique about you.

Customers don’t talk this way. They say things they mean in their own words. They are real people. You should be real people too.

Apply Occam’s Razor

A plurality should not be asserted without necessity – Occam’s Razor

We complicate things. We like big words, big aggregations & abstract ideas. We love a topdown & system view. These conversations make us feel like leaders. Then we find it hard to make the conversations at this level deliver even the smallest amount of traction to our goals.

Focus instead on the smallest unit of impact or action. Apply Occam’s Razor and only add to these units when needed. A lot of waste, confusion, interpretation and distraction is quickly cut away. Suddenly we are see impacts at a human level and can focus on changes and impacts that have real traction.

Here’s a list of a few small units that aggregate to deliver the impacts we discuss and debate.

The smallest unit of:
– a customer experience, sales or service is one customer interaction
– productivity is one task
– profitability is one sale
– branding is one customer decision
– communication is one message received
– leadership is one interaction
– purpose is one task
– learning is one skill applied
– employee engagement is one question
– trust or reputation is one interaction
– work is one task
– change is one new action
– innovation is one experiment

Each of these little actions or interaction aggregate to form their impacts. Most are controlled by others not you. Change at this level is more powerful. Piled on top of each other these small units create the measures we treasure. If we want better outcomes, we need to make sure our plans work at this tangible level.

What is the smallest unit in the challenges you face? What would be different if you focused on only changes at that level?