Bartolo Colon had been around the block a few times. Many times, rather. His storied career spanned over 21 years – from a flamethrowing strikeout king to a wily mid-inning relief pitcher in his later years. His ability to survive, and remain productively consistent, provides keen marketing lessons you can apply to your own business.
The point is, the man facetiously dubbed ‘Big Sexy’ had true staying power. How? He adapted his skills to his changing physical abilities – and kept those cushy paychecks coming in all along the way.
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Who Was ‘Big Sexy’ & Marketing Lessons, Really?
Colon’s 21-year career spanned six presidential terms, survived questionable early-2000s fashion trends (e.g. trucker hats, frosted lip gloss, vests of many kinds, capris, and UGGs), and lasted longer than Turner Field, the ballpark for the Atlanta Braves from 1997-2016.
He was coming up on 45 years old, (definitely) weighed more than his 285-pound listed weight, and averaged a mediocre 86-87 miles per hour on his fastball.
Early in his career, he was heaving in the high 90s. He even hit triple digits in his early twenties. Today, he’s still considered one of the hardest throwers in MLB history. In time, the speed faltered, as it does.
Yet, on April 15, the unassuming Dominican American nearly threw a perfect game against the Houston Astros, owners of one of the most explosive offenses in baseball (and reigning World Series champions).
How did he do this? How did he manage to stay effective into the twilight of his career?
Believe it or not, the answers contain several lessons for the digital agencies of today.
1. Money Isn’t Everything
Colon made $1.75 million the year he nearly threw a perfect game, much less than the $4.47 million players averaged in 2017. He was a bargain, considering the results.
How does this translate to digital marketing?
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a strong return on your investment (ROI).
Content marketing, for example, is often supplemented by paid advertising but doesn’t rely on the dollar to move the needle. You can improve your website’s organic SEO without spending a single dime.
However, just as you would give a baseball player a raise for exceptional performance, you should boost well-performing blog posts or paid ads to maximize their effectiveness and reach.
2. Age Is Just a Number
Colon was older than six managers in the MLB at this point. His career has lasted longer than celebrities like Lorde have been alive. This goes to show that it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks… even for digital marketing.
Used to cold calling? Try LinkedIn networking instead.
Powering through emails all day? Install a chat plugin (or chatbot) on your website.
Still, writing short meta descriptions? Make them a little longer. If age doesn’t affect a professional athlete, it sure shouldn’t affect a marketer.
3. Round Is a Shape
Calling Colon overweight may seem a bit rude, but the fact is, the guy was one of the heaviest players in the MLB.
Still, it doesn’t affect his performance and he usually lasts at least four or five innings per game.
Likewise, if your marketing team is struggling with productivity, there are ways to be more efficient. Work smarter, not harder. Whether that’s outsourcing some (or all) tasks to an agency, taking professional development courses or focusing on quality instead of quantity, there are ways to perform better without burning out.
4. Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
Why is Colon still successful this far into his career?
Ask him, and he’ll tell you: it was all in the wrist, not the waist.
It’s not because he was blowing batters away with speed. It’s because he’s smart. He learned to locate his pitches. Perhaps most importantly, he knows most batters because he’s seen them before. As an aging professional, he put in the time to learn and memorize his opponent’s weaknesses. He chose his spots strategically.
If you’re a digital marketer, you need to know what your competitors are doing, where your target audience is hanging out, and what content you need to create that will be most valuable to them.
Most of all, though, you need to document it. According to HubSpot, only “32% of B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy.”
That’s a problem!
5. The Game Has Changed
Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said that part of the reason Colon has been successful for so long is because it’s easier to stay on the field these days.
Partly because medical teams are more knowledgeable and partly because rules and best practices in baseball have changed. You’re no longer expected to pitch as frequently as they did back in the day.
Similarly, the digital marketing landscape has changed.
Buyers now dictate the way they want to buy and are resistant to intrusive advertising techniques. Instead of putting yourself and your brand at risk by throwing more money and ads at them, give them a reason to come to you instead (i.e. create valuable content through a well-designed content strategy).
It results in less of a strain on yourself and puts you in a better position for long-term success.
If Bartolo Colon can adjust his approach to experience success in his field, so can you. If you’re not seeing the success you’d like, give any of the above approaches a try.
Want a marketing team to help devise a digital strategy with staying power? Find your dream team – fast and for free.