Bartolo Colon has been around the block a few times. The professional baseball player’s 21-year career has spanned six presidential terms, survived questionable early-2000s fashion trends (e.g. trucker hats, frosted lip gloss) and lasted longer than Turner Field, the ballpark for the Atlanta Braves from 1997-2016. He’s about to be 45 years old, is much heavier than his 285-pound listed weight and averages a mediocre 86-87 miles per hour on his pitch velocity.

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 does he keep doing this? How is he still effective?

Believe it or not, the answers contain several lessons for today’s digital marketers.

1. Money Isn’t Everything

Colon is making $1.75 million this year, much less than the $4.47 million players averaged in 2017. He’s a bargain, especially if he keeps throwing near-perfect games like he did the other day. To relate it to marketing, this means you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a return on your investment.

Inbound 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 SEO value 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 is older than six managers in the MLB. 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.

On email all day? Install a 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 is 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? It’s not because he’s blowing any batters away with his pitches. It’s because he’s smart about locating his pitches. He knows most batters because he’s seen them before, so he chooses 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).

It results in less of a strain on yourself and puts you in 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, why not give any of the above approaches a try?