The other night we watched Moneyball in our house (great movie, by the way. Highly recommended) and I got the itch.
It happens about every time this year. Even though we haven’t had the Super Bowl yet, the football season is pretty much over for me (read: Eagles fan. ’nuff said). But when it comes to sports, baseball is my first love, and I anticipate the start of the season in a way that other sports can’t even begin to compare.
And I’m not alone. On Twitter and Facebook I see my friends who are good (Phillies fans) and those on the dark side (Yankees, Braves, Mets fans) all pining away for opening day.
The countdown actually begins sometime in the Fall, but mostly in early winter as we ask the question:
How long until pitchers and catchers report?
We scramble to the Internet and find the answer for our particular team (Just about 3 weeks from now if you’re keeping track. And I am.) It’s that landmark moment when we start to see things improving. In mid-February, pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in the warmer climes of either Florida or Arizona, and the rest of the players follow a few days later. It may be the dead of Winter and bitter cold, but baseball is just around the corner.
And perhaps that’s part of the charm of our National Pastime. The start of baseball season coincides with the change of seasons from the cold, dark, bleakness of winter (at least here in the northeast) to the new birth of Spring.
Anticipation. It’s an incredible marketing tool. It’s why baseball’s preseason is much more of an “event” or “experience” than the preseason of any other sport.
The business that can build anticipation into it’s marketing and culture will do well. This is something that Apple does well, as fans eagerly anticipate every announcement from on high about new products. It’s something that Google has done well, as they released new beta versions of their products to a limited audience and we waited for our invitations.
I’ve seen local restaurants do this with their daily features. One client of mine has an entire email database dedicated to their soup of the day. They also have special updates on their Facebook page and a special page on their website for the soup of the day. Why? They discovered that the phone rang off the hook each morning at all 20 of their regional locations, as people wanted to know the soup of the day. The right soup would determine where they went to eat on their lunch break. My client was wise enough to take that as a cue to put that information online. It meets people’s needs and cuts down on the calls. And people eagerly await that email or Facebook post (which always gets a lot of comments, including people responding by asking when their particular favorite will be served).
It’s what Heinz Ketchup did as they built a campaign around a Carly Simon song. Because we all know that there are those things that we eagerly await, and yet we feel they are worth the wait.
It won’t work for every business, but if you can build anticipation into your business model and marketing, it can be wonderful. When people eagerly anticipate something, it’s because it’s more than a product. It’s because we’ve learned to turn our products into experiences and lifestyles.
And now, I’m eagerly awaiting the day that pitchers and catchers report. I await the first game of Spring Training, and I await the first game of the season. Baseball, for me, is more than a game. It cultivates anticipation. It’s a game filled with something special, or as author W.P. Kinsella says, something “magical”. Why do I anticipate baseball so much? It’s the game of my childhood, and to me, it’s the perfect game, despite its imperfections.
In order to understand what it is that I feel, I close with this lengthy excerpt from Kinsella’s “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” :
“Why not baseball?” my father would say. Name me a more perfect game! Name me a game with more possibilities for magic, wizardry, voodoo, hoodoo, enchantment, obsession, possession. There’s always a time for daydreaming, time to create your own illusions at the ballpark. I bet there isn’t a magician anywhere who doesn’t love baseball. Take the layout. No mere mortal could have dreamed up the dimensions of a baseball field. No man could be that perfect. Abner Doubleday, if he did indeed invent the game, must have received divine guidance.
“And the field runs to infinity,” he would shout, gesturing wildly. “You ever think of that, Gid? There’s no limit to how far a man might possibly hit a ball, and there’s no limit to how far a fleet outfielder might run to retrieve it. the foul lines run on forever, forever diverging. There’s no place in America that’s not part of a major-league ballfield: the meanest ghetto, the highest point of land, the Great Lakes, the Colorado River. Hell, there’s no place in the world that’s not part of a baseball field.
“Every other sport is held in by boundaries, some of absolute set size, some not: football, hockey, tennis, basketball, golf. But there’s no limit to the size of a baseball field. What other sport can claim that? And there’s no more enigmatic game; I don’t have to tell you that. “
Anticipation is built on a sense of wonderment and mystery.
How are you building anticipation into your business model and your online marketing?
- Why blogging is like baseball (billdorman.me)
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