A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old daughter, Caitlin, had her first team softball practice. Her coach brought in a couple extra coaches to go over fundamentals – proper throwing motion, how to stand in the batter’s box, how to swing the bat, etc.
The coach who was teaching a good batting stance had obviously been around the block. He was an older guy who knew his stuff.
I remember the first thing he said to the girls was something like this:
“Stand up straight and drop the top of your bat down from each hip. Your feet should be on the outside of where the bat lands.”
The girls just kind of stood there with their mouths open. I remember thinking to myself, “Why not just stand with your feet a little wider than your shoulders and say, ‘Stand like this?’”
Of course, what the hell do I know? Not much compared to this coach, obviously, and I say that with the utmost respect for the coach’s baseball knowledge.
He went over some of the basics as a group then worked with each of them individually. He spent a solid 10 minutes with each girl on their batting stance. I appreciated the one-on-one attention he provided. After all, a lot goes into a good, balanced batting stance.
Hands up and back. Feet a little more than shoulder length apart. Toes on a line parallel to the plate. Knees slightly bent. Stand on the balls of your feet. More weight on your back leg. Wrists bent so the middle knuckles line up when you grip the bat.
Swinging the bat is whole separate conversation.
Caitlin did great. But when I asked what she learned from the batting stance station at practice, she didn’t have a clue. When I asked if she could do what the coach taught her to do, she just laughed.
Two nights later, she went to one of the clinics in town. I couldn’t go that night, but she came home all excited.
She wanted to show me the ninja batting stance. She leapt into position, minus the bat, pretending she was holding a sword.
Hands were up, back and together almost as if she was praying, which put her wrists in the proper position. Her weight was back, feet were apart and knees were bent.
All of a sudden, Caitlin’s batting stance came naturally. And it was fun.
When I asked her what was different from the clinic and the practice two days earlier, she said, “The coach at the clinic didn’t talk as much. He just showed us, so it was easier to do.”
And those are the lessons, eloquently spoken by my daughter.
Simplify Your Marketing Message
This is less about shortening your message and more about simplification, although a simpler message is often shorter.
Take a look at your website, your blog, your print collateral. Have you explained what you do, the value of what you do, and the results you deliver in the simplest of terms? Are you speaking the language of your target audience?
You can have more in-depth explanations where appropriate, but the high-level message should be clear within a matter of seconds.
Can you be more concise without removing critical information? Can you make the explanation more interesting without compromising clarity?
The problem Caitlin had with the first coach was that he was overloading her with information and talking over her head, using complex explanations and unfamiliar terms that didn’t make sense.
The goal should be to take your marketing content from a 10-minute tutorial on every nuance of batting to the ninja batting stance. Just make sure you’re cutting fat, not bone. And if you try to be creative or clever, make sure you don’t muddy the waters in the process.
Show, Don’t Tell
People are more likely to absorb and remember the information you provide, and take action, when you show them, not tell them. That’s how you make your message relevant and relatable to the people you’re trying to reach.
Does your content remind people of frustrations and pain points? The problems they need solved? The stuff that keeps them up at night?
Does your content preview the experience of doing business with you? More importantly, does it preview the positive outcome you’re capable of delivering and how you can make their lives better?
When you can answer “yes” to all these questions and back up what you show them with sound reasoning, clear points of differentiation, client success stories, and other information that validates your value proposition, people don’t just believe you.
They believe in you. That’s when you know you’ve made a connection.
The coach at the clinic showed the kids the ninja batting stance while he explained the finer points. The kids were able to see all the different parts of a solid stance. Most importantly, they were able to replicate them and repeat them.
Everything made sense. So they bought into it.
Isn’t that what we all should want from our marketing?
By the Way…
This article isn’t intended in any way to criticize the coach. As a fellow volunteer sports coach, I appreciate the experience he brought to the table and his willingness to share it. I wish I had half his knowledge.
That said, I don’t know who came up with this ninja batting stance thing, but I want to buy him or her a beer. Caitlin’s swing is silky smooth.