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What my dad accidentally taught me about marketing

May 1, 2017

My dad was a cop for 20 years. Marketing isn’t his thing. Baseball is. Doing the right thing is. Saving a couple bucks is. And yet, he taught me one of the best marketing lessons I've ever learned.

 

Here's the story: 

 

When I was a kid, my dad was coaching a baseball team. One of the other coaches started tinkering with a young player's swing. The kid was a good hitter. My dad took the coach aside and quietly asked him what he was doing. 

 

The coach explained that the kid's stance was unorthodox (he held his hands right around his belt buckle), that his swing was a little goofy. 

 

My dad replied, "Honestly, I don't care what it looks like. He could stand on his head as long as he hits line drives." 

 

They left the kid's swing alone, and while he didn't stand on his head, his awkward swing produced plenty of line drives. 

 

You see, that was my dad's approach to coaching. He didn't set out to make all his players into robots. He focused on the results you got and helped you get those results more consistently. If your form was pretty, great. If it wasn't, he didn't care, as long as it worked for you. 

 

My dad's words have always stuck with me, and I still take them into account today when I'm working with a client. Everyone has an idea of what it's supposed to look like, but it doesn't always turn out that way. 

 

Sometimes, the slick, stylish creative ad you spent hours creating gets mediocre results, and the straight forward (perhaps even boring) Google AdWords search campaign makes the cash register ring. 

 

Now, should I be like that other coach and try to get this campaign to change its swing because it doesn't match my vision? 

 

Hell no, let the boring campaign keep hitting line drives. In fact, give more budget to the thing that's hitting line drives. 

 

By focusing on results instead of aesthetics, a liberating thing happens. Achieving those results becomes a lot easier. You don't hold onto your preconceptions so tightly. You adapt much more quickly. You get a lot more wins. 

 

Anytime I'm working on a new campaign -- or reviewing past campaigns -- I always think of my dad. Is it hitting line drives? Good, then leave it the hell alone. 

 

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