January 28, 2020   |   Vol. 19   |   Issue 1
Dr. Adina Wasserman, MGI’s Research Director and Matt Kerr, MGI’s Market Research Manager

What Goes For Baseball, Goes For Membership Marketing!

In 2003, Michael Lewis published Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Lewis examined how Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, utilized an advanced analytical approach to maximize the talents of his players while still maintaining one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Using this approach, Oakland performed above expectations and made several postseason appearances.

What do you really know?

Beane’s analytical approach was controversial. For over a century, baseball executives had built rosters and coaches had made in-game decisions using experience, hunches, and a hodgepodge of statistics. Advanced analytics demonstrated that this approach was often misguided. Today, organizations win by building teams around relevant data, not hunches.

Market research tackles association issues in much the same way. How does your association know what it claims to know? Is it experience? Is it from talking to enthusiastic members at the annual conference? Maybe board members with their own pet interests? When you use any of these as your baseline, you are playing your hunches. Market research gives you real data from which to make decisions. Sometimes, your hunches are correct. Many times, they are not.

Research is not execution.

Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once said “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” Despite Berra’s questionable math, his point is nonetheless valid. It is not enough to know what to do; one must execute in order to be successful. Knowing that an opposing batter will always swing at a curveball in the dirt is useless information if your pitcher can’t throw a curveball.

Likewise, market research is not often useful on its own. A successful market research study will provide associations with the foundation on which to build effective marketing campaigns. MGI’s marketing team can work with associations to translate research into results.

A good research project tells a story.

Baseball purists will sometimes maintain a scorecard (“keep score”) when attending baseball games. A holdover from the days before state-of-the-art video boards, a scorecard allows a fan to keep track of what is happening on the field. Part code, part art form, a good scorecard is not a highlight reel, but rather tells the complete story of the game. Baseball fans know that Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But do you know why the game was tied at nine apiece before that? The scorecard would tell you why.

Good market research endeavors to tell the complete story, too. As an association, you may know parts of the story. You may even have empirical data to back up those parts of the story. But do you know the whole story? MGI’s research department can help you uncover the many layers that will tell a more complete story.

Doing more with less.

Just like Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, associations must increasingly do more with less. Research allows associations to pinpoint actual problems, not perceived ones, and to focus attention on them. Don’t be let a curveball surprise you when you were expecting a fastball.

To find out more about MGI’s research capabilities, please contact Dr. Adina Wasserman, Research Director, at awasserman@marketinggeneral.com, or Matt Kerr, Market Research Manager, at mkerr@marketinggeneral.com.

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