Springtime for Marketing! – by Jeff Hirsch
I was going to write about the Super Bowl. Every marketer worth his salt needs his turn to vent the usual outrage about how companies waste vast sums of money on ads, how ads used to be boring but sell products but now they’re entertaining and sell nothing, how the game always stinks, blah, blah, blah.
As I was talking about the piece in the office one day, my friend and colleague Michael Laskin said, “The best thing about the Super Bowl is that football is finally over.”
This comment immediately transformed my state of mind. Because for me, the Super Bowl marks the beginning of the end for winter, as the gloom slowly but unmistakably lifts and the light starts to return. More importantly, and the true intent behind Michael’s comment, it means that baseball is almost here again!
Next thing I know, I see the following headline from AP on my computer screen, heralding the start of Spring Training:
Wednesday is the day fans have been waiting for since October: Pitchers and catchers take the field!
Ahhhhhh Spring! Baseball. Optimism. Renewal.
Why rant about what everyone is doing wrong (even though we consultants love to do that)? Better to feel the warm sun caressing your face, cold beer in hand, nothing to do but relax and take in the game. The players aren’t on the clock and neither are you. You can think intensely about the game or let your mind wander. Your choice, your time.
Which finally brings me to the point.
Where has the time gone? Not in our lives, but in our workdays?
Corporate America sends a clear message to its managers. Work fast, work smart (whatever that means). Justify every expenditure and every last second of your time. The clock is ticking! Achieve! Toughen up! Put your personal life on hold! Play hurt! We need to make our numbers!
So there you have it, everything that is wrong with business today and why baseball is a far better model for marketers than football.
Life and business, like baseball, go on and on. There are sixteen hours of play over sixteen weeks in the regular season NFL schedule. Baseball goes for over six months, 162 games at two and a half to three or more hours each. It demands attention for the long-term, the big picture. You can’t start your best pitcher everyday. Not all of your everyday players are Cal Ripken – you’ve got to rest them when they have aches and pains. Don’t start your catcher on a day game following a night game, you’ll blow out his knees.
In other words, when you play everyday, you can’t beat yourself up constantly and expect the best results. The mind doesn’t function well in a constant state of stress. To be truly creative, we need time to let things ruminate in our brains, to let our unconscious do its important work.
Think baseball, not football. It’s the difference between winter and summer, the dark and the light. It will transform you.
After all, which scenario do you think is more conducive to creativity? When you’re eating too much, drinking too much too fast, freezing your butt off, drinking more to convince yourself your not freezing your butt off, surrounded by raving lunatics and thinking about how depressed you’ll be (and how many fights in you’ll see in the parking lot) if your team loses?
Or relaxing on a warm summer day or night, hanging out with friends and family, smile on your face, thinking that there’s no place you’d rather be, and knowing that there’s always another game tomorrow?