Changing the Game (of Baseball) : Fungoman
Airplane conversations are usually, at best, pleasant diversions from travel that end in cordial goodbyes. Not so when one of our team members sat next to Romy Cucjen on a flight. Romy played professional baseball for years before founding a startup. Their mutual love for entrepreneurship got them talking, and we learned about Romy’s fascinating product — and his interesting dilemma.
Throughout his time in school and the minor leagues, Romy observed that certain drills posed a problem; for players to practice fielding, coaches had to hit balls into the outfield using a fungo bat. Human error made consistent and truly scientific hits near-impossible. It also distanced coaches from players, making them unable to stand beside the fielder and give real-time feedback. This meant that tryouts were less objective, practices were less effective, and players performance was stunted.
Enter the FungoMan, a machine that pitches balls from home plate. Romy programmed the software to integrate with an iPad app, so coaches can plan practices and evaluate their players with much more accuracy, and spend more time in the outfield coaching.
But there was a challenge. As Romy explained, this is a high-quality technology at a high price. Furthermore, baseball coaches are a conservative audience, and finding coaches who were willing to experiment with technology posed a tricky challenge.
We believed that we could find these coaches online. Romy partnered with Sherwood Fellows to run online lead generation experiment.
We ran Romy and his team through our empathic design process. Together, we gained an intimate understanding of the interests and challenges of the coaches who were most likely to innovate: our early adopters. We redesigned a few aspects of FungoMan’s online presence based on what we learned.
We optimized their Facebook page to encourage signups for an email drip campaign, and created targeted Facebook ads that marketed to baseball fans, coaches, and managers with a specific type of interest. We also overhauled FungoMan’s sales funnel and drip campaigns, turning them into a journey that would keep our early adopters interested for an entire year (the average sales cycle of for a FungoMan sale).
Results - 9:1 ROI
Our Facebook and Google advertising campaigns turned this efficiency into growth, creating a wildfire of online buzz. We drove millions of paid and organic views.
With clearer steps, engaging calls to action, and more relevant content in their emails, the campaign improved their email open rate by 1.5% and increased FungoMan’s lead closures from 2 to 3 percent.
These changes were vital foundations for harvesting a return on paid advertising. We retained 1900 potential customers and drove $80,000 in sales directly from our ads.
The small investment in digital strategy to target early adopters had huge results: we were able to bring back nine times the amount spent on the ad and our services.
Our favorite result is that this new online strategy re-positioned FungoMan in the world of baseball. They’ve become an official partner for numerous tournaments and events. They are not just an odd new technology; they’re a cutting-edge addition to elite teams. FungoMan is freeing coaches to do what they do best — coach. FungoMan has found its niche, and we’re grateful for the chance encounter that allowed us to work with them. We’ve continued to work together with Romy and his team to find new innovative ways to bring FungoMan to the world.