Here is a rare baseball post in honor of the World Series just starting. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals contend for the 2011 World Series. Why do I like both of these teams?

  1. The Rangers are from my home state and are fully recovered from the Alex Rodriguez debacle. I’m still ticked at A-Rod deserting the Seattle Mariners who were a fun team in the Griffey Jr./Randy Johnson/Jay Buhner/Edgar Martinez/A-Rod days. And the commercials were hysterical!


  1. The Cardinals have a national following of loyal fans who generally have a great attitude.
  2. They are the last two teams standing, but they are not the biggest payrolls in baseball.

According to CBS Sports, the St. Louis Cardinals have the 11th highest payroll at $105,433,572 and the Texas Rangers have the 13th highest payroll at $92,299,265. That is out of 30 MLB teams, so they are in the middle third when it comes to spending. Contrast that with the New York Yankees with the highest payroll at $201,689,030. The Rangers payroll is 45% of the Yankees payroll yet it is the Rangers who have been in the last two World Series!

Small businesses with small marketing budgets take notice!

So what can our marketing departments learn from these two World Series teams?

  1. Spend Wisely – The Rangers made a terrible over-commitment to Alex Rodriguez in 2001 when they signed him to a 10-year deal worth $252 million. After unloading A-Rod to the Yankees, the Rangers eventually got back to winning ways with young talent like Josh Hamilton and good pitching from all-stars like C.J. Wilson.

In marketing, social media is a weapon that is readily available to everyone. It isn’t free because you still have resource costs at a minimum. However, resources providing thoughtful input in the form of blogs, video content and comments on other blogs and LinkedIn groups can start to generate mindshare and develop dedicated followers. You no longer have to be on the “Exhibit Hall” tour or use big advertising dollars on TV/radio/print media.

  1. Find a Super Star – The Rangers have Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and C.J. Wilson. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.

In marketing, your most important investment in your marketing strategy may be the selection of a bona fide superstar to execute that strategy. By the way, it is still necessary for due diligence in the selection process, and an internal designation may be ideal if you have a forward-thinking resource who already knows your business. If you hire anyone who uses the following adjectives in their resume, Twitter or LinkedIn profile…buyer beware: rockstar, superstar, ninja, assassin, expert, guru. Select someone, give them autonomy, and pay them well! Come up with incentives and bonus plans so the compensation can grow substantially based upon measurable success. However, studies show that the company-minded superstars tend to be more motivated simply by having more granted autonomy and knowing that their creativity is appreciated and crucial to company success.

  1. Never Give Up – On August 25, the Cardinals played their 130th game of the season and were 10½ games behind the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves. Everybody had written the Cardinals off, but they won the Wild Card berth on the last game of the season to mark the largest comeback in MLB History with only 32 games remaining.

In marketing, you may be behind the big boys in mindshare. It would be very easy to give up and just go join an established team for a big company. Or you could embrace creativity with a slice of unorthodox, define your realistic business goals and a cost-effective strategy to get there, and start tracking your small successes towards those goals. I recommend reading Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization to see that it is entirely possible to track ROI for your social media efforts beyond just “engagement”. Engagement is crucial, but Olivier explains how that can be a cop-out if that is all you are measuring.

Are you the little guy with the tiny budget that is looking to create mindshare against the big boys with the big payrolls? Find a superstar, define a cost-conscious marketing strategy that plays to that superstar’s strengths while leveraging small successes, and then never give up until you establish yourself as a legitimate contender in your industry.

Who are you rooting for in the 2011 World Series: Rangers or Cardinals? Check out this Pulse Analytics infographic to see how the teams are trending! Have you found that superstar to execute your marketing strategy? Bring those comments, folks.