Why the Cubs won the World Series (and what it means for B2B marketers)


Five years ago, Theo Epstein left the Boston Red Sox and joined the Chicago Cubs organization.  This was after 103 years of relative futility from the Cubs, having not won the World Series since 1908.

Theo had a plan for how the Cubs would break that streak and finally become World Champions again.  But to get to that point (which finally happened last week), Theo delivered bad news to his boss, owner Tom Ricketts.

Epstein wanted a complete rehaul of the Cubs organization.  This means new players, new draft picks, a new approach.  Five years ago he asked for patience from his boss, his organization, his team and his fans.  He warned that the next few years might be difficult.  But they would be worth it.

For his first couple years as president of the Chicago Cubs, Epstein presided over a team that lost more than 100 games per season.  But during that time, he was signing new players, drafting young prospects, implementing a minor league system that prioritized player attributes according to his new plan.

He knew (and his boss knew) that success wouldn’t come quickly.  But the reward for patience would be a team, and an organization, that not only could finally win a World Championship for Chicago, but be legitimate contenders for years to come.

Many organizations don’t have, and won’t have, this level of patience.  They “buy” free agents and piece together teams hoping they can win.  Some do, but that success is often fleeting.  So many organizations want instant success.  It rarely works that way.

Transforming B2B marketing organizations doesn’t have to take five years.  But trying to evaluate success after sending a few emails, or testing a new approach for a couple weeks, is akin to buying a free agent and hoping they can help you win, right now.  You might get lucky, but the likelihood of success is low and, even then, typically very short-lived.

B2B marketing is complicated, and getting harder all the time.  Transforming how you operate is not an overnight process.  This doesn’t mean you have to suck in the transition time, but it does require having a long-term plan as well as the patience and discipline to see that plan through.

As you evaluate the past year and plan for a new year of driving growth for your organization, consider what short-term and long-term success requires.  Build a plan, communicate and evangelize what it will take, set expectations for short-term commitments, milestones and benchmarks that demonstrate progress.

Be bold about developing and communicating a vision for long-term, sustainable, predictable results.  The bolder your vision, the bigger the change, the more pain in transition may be required.

But I dare you to find a Cubs fan, player or organization member that won’t this week tell you it was all completely worth it.