The Chicago Cubs Are Just Like Digital Marketing

Drew Berry
December 21, 2021

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan or even just a casual fan of baseball, you probably heard about what happened to the team in the summer of 2021. In what has become one of the worst days in recent memory for fans, the Cubs traded away nearly every superstar player they had. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and more – players beloved by this city, who led the team to the most successful period in the club’s 151-year history – were sent to other teams.

Thus, an era of Cubs’ excellence was ended. After the trades, the club quickly sank and became one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball.

I can already hear you asking, “Why is he talking about this here? Isn’t Perfect Search Media a digital marketing company?” I’ll tell you why: the Cubs’ turbulent 2021 season can teach us many lessons which, believe it or not, can also be applied to marketing. In many ways, this Cubs’ season was a microcosm of what the digital marketing industry can be like.

There Are Highs!

Despite it ending rather terribly, the Cubs did have some actual highs throughout the season before they traded away their best players and ruined the hopes and dreams of thousands of fans.

Opening day saw the return of fans and a few ex-Cubs players to Wrigley Field for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began. They played good baseball for the first couple of months of the season and had some truly memorable moments, including Javy Baez confusing an entire team in one of the wildest plays you’ll ever see and a combined no-hitter against the defending World Series champions. The team was riding high initially and found themselves in first place in mid-June after sweeping their rivals from St. Louis.

Digital marketing campaign managers can also experience early periods of consistently positive results with impressive metrics. When click-through rates, conversions, ad spend returns, and costs-per-click trend in the right direction, when every strategic decision ends up being the right one, when clients love the deliverables sent to them, and when goals are being met and exceeded, it’s hard to believe that anything could go wrong again. It’s exciting to see your client’s paid and organic traffic increase under your management. When everyone is on the same page and moving in unison, consistent positive performances become the new normal.

And Then There Are Lows…

Just as the train began to pick up speed, the Cubs’ season completely went off the rails. Remember that no-hitter I talked about earlier? Immediately following that, the Cubs lost 11 straight games and fell far, far out of first place, cementing their position as sellers at the July 30th trade deadline, when nine star players were traded, dooming the rest of the season. The roster was now filled with inexperienced and, frankly, bad players who helped the team limp to the end of the season with an abysmal 21-40 record after the trade deadline. The 2021 Cubs set records that no MLB team hopes to achieve, most notably their use of 69 different players in a single season.

Similar to the Cubs’ cold stretches seen this season, it’s common for there to be seasonal low periods in marketing as well, though these periods largely depend on the type of business. For example, many B2B companies will experience periods of low success during the holiday season as most people are focused on spending time with family and purchasing presents instead of staying laser-focused on business. Other companies may see downtime during the summer as folks are out and about enjoying the weather and not looking at things online. In both cases, it’s important to realize that there are periods when you can expect performances to dip. You do what you can to improve results, but you can only do so much during the slow season other than riding it out until it’s over.

Don’t Be Afraid to Blow It Up!

Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can learn from the disaster that was the 2021 Chicago Cubs is this – when things are not going well, don’t be afraid to blow it all up. Although trading away multiple team legends in one fell swoop was a difficult decision that management knew would upset fans, it was the correct decision to make for future success. Despite finishing as one of the worst teams in baseball, the trades allowed new heroes to emerge, like rookies Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom, whose breakout performances were only possible once they were given a chance to shine. These younger players wouldn’t have had the success they’ve seen without the Cubs changing their strategy, and now the team has a strong foundation that they can rebuild around. They might not win the World Series next year or even the year after that (please don’t let it go another 108, though), but the Chicago Cubs are pointed on a path that will lead to prolonged success for years to come.

Keep this story of the Cubs in mind the next time you struggle to increase performance on your marketing campaigns. I know how difficult it can be to change the strategy you’ve been devoted to, but you must be willing to move on when the time comes. When the metrics are consistently trending downward, it’s probably time to try something new, and it may be better to start from scratch rather than trying to fix problems as they constantly arise. It’s important to acknowledge when what you’re doing is no longer working so you can “blow it up” before the problems turn into a crisis. This allows you to build a new foundation to grow a new strategy. Who knows, perhaps your new strategy may end up becoming your very own Frank Schwindel.

Change is the only constant in digital marketing. Much like next year’s Cubs, no one knows exactly what the future of marketing will look like – there are sure to be changes that will require adjustment as both the industry and the baseball team evolve to reach maximum success.


If you’ve already “blown it up” but are still struggling to find the perfect marketing strategy for your business, it might be time to reach out to the digital marketing experts at Perfect Search Media to see how we can help you achieve your goals.

Drew Berry
Junior Analyst

Even though Drew attends Butler University in Indianapolis he roots for the Chicago Cubs while secretly wishing he could be a part of the team. He loves eating pizza and funnel cake but you won’t find him riding any rollercoasters at an amusement park.

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