5 Tips to Setting Marketing Goals as Inspired by “Everest”
What majestic goals and objectives require of us and our team
By Margy Lang, M.S., MBA
Last week was long and more arduous than most, until, I saw the IMAX film, “Everest“.
The film put a year’s worth of hard work planning and preparing and executing marketing goals and objectives into perspective. It also gave new meaning to the very automatic act of breathing!
“Everest” offered a glimpse of just how critical it is to marketers to hone a set of skills that allow us to set marketing goals and objectives and long before we can ever expect to execute on those objectives. The film drove home the important reminder of just how important it is to build a team around our team and how critical it is to choose our leaders, wisely.
On a Friday afternoon, looking at my schedule, I saw a gaping crevice. Open space on a calendar is more often than not, a pleasant surprise. I took full advantage of the free time (and because I love all things, Everest) to take myself to watch the IMAX film, “Everest.”
At 2:00 p.m. I was in my seat along with a sparse crowd in the IMAX theater located not far from my office. Outfitted in 3-D glasses, with a pen and paper on the seat to my right and no one occupying the seat to my left nor the seats in the row in front of me, I had a wide open view of the immense screen. Sitting there in relative darkness with lots of anticipation for the roaring thunderous surround sound and the up close look at the journey of an expedition to Mt. Everest, strangely, I felt alone. It was the same sort of vague feeling of aloneness, maybe you’ve experienced, of being all alone before a big presentation, or walking down a hallway before entering a board room, or stepping off the elevator, alone, knowing that when the doors open you’ll face a challenging situation. Or maybe it is like the anticipation of pre-launch of a campaign or product or event. The anticipation, the slight uneasiness, the final checklist, the internal pep talk, the affirmations that this is going to not only be good but great, filled my head. Feet propped up and slouching in my chair (it had been a long week) I knew that the IMAX film crew and Mt. Everest would not fail me.
What I experienced in the next two hours far exceeded my expectations. From the stunning beauty to the shocking reality of just how brutal an Everest climb can be the IMAX lenses captured the story, beautifully. My respect for Mt. Everest rose significantly. Even as familiar as I was with the story line of the 1999 incident and demise of the climbers, the film serves as a poignant reminder to marketers of the incredible challenges that individuals and teams take on to reach their ultimate goal. And, it reminds us of how complex projects, with their many moving parts, are akin to an expedition where you only need, and can only pack the essentials.
As I drank in the beauty and wonderment of Mt. Everest from hundreds of angles, lighting, and shadows captured by the IMAX film crew, I thought how influential big marketing goals can be, how big projects and campaigns can significantly impact our work groups, suppliers, vendors, and partners. And, how majestic it feels to have big goals. Is it because, I wondered, these seemingly impossible-to-reach “stretch goals” test our courage, tenacity, and force us to focus on the tasks at hand?
Capturing the essence of a mountain like Everest takes equally big planning and insights and thoughts. The most successful of campaigns take on a majestic feel, a bigger than life feeling. And big goals do illuminate minds, brightly, as well as illuminate the cracks in the armor, the shortcomings, and the faults and crevices.
On my notepad, scribbled in the darkness of the theater, I wrote five keywords to remind me how critical these are to reaching goals and objectives. They might seem obvious, but in a long term project with far reaching outcomes, it is always the path of preparation that paves our success. Don’t we all want to reach our majestic goals and plant the flag of achievement?
Tips to Setting Marketing Goals
- There is no rushing preparation. If you rush up or down the mountain without becoming acclimated, you will suffer, miserably. If you don’t summit in stages (base camps) you will never make it to the top. Period. There is no fast way up and no fast way down. There is only the power inside the preparedness of your body, mind and soul to push you to succeed or in the case of Mt. Everest, to survive the climb to the top. All three, the body, mind and spirit must harmoniously agree they share equally in the preparation and equally in the climb.
- Base camp is like a NASA flight control center. The ability to see and process data, forecasts, conditions, and collect climbers’ input, makes for much more accurate recommendations. To build confidence, solutions, and communication and trust with base camp you must build and sustain your personal base camp. Without a strong internal base camp, those who feed you information and data and recommendations from the base camp or the field, who act as advisors, coaches, supporters, and confidantes, are worthless to you. There may not be much glory inside base camp tent, but there sure are guts, integrity, and critical thinking. And in those situations when you are sitting near the top of Mt. Everest, on a crevice, hanging by your toes and fingers to the side, listen to your internal base camp and really listen to the words of your base camp team.
- Towards the top of your run to the summit, you may run out of steam, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As described in the film, your body begins to die when you are climbing a mountain that is as high as the cruising altitude of a jet liner. The forces of nature, the drain of a long battle, force us to remember that marketing is a marathon not a sprint. Sometimes it feels like a crawl. And in the film, the climbers were reduced to less than crawling. Head down, one foot in front of the other at a slow and painful pace. It felt surreal to watch them struggle. Yet they dug in. How many times have you been frustrated by the pace of work? Campaigns I’ve managed seem painstakingly S-L-O-W while waiting for approvals and green lights and the opportunity to sprint. And, watching the small window of opportunity, slowly close like the shadows of night falling on the mountain. Patience can triumph when coupled with dogged determination, even in the end.
- All the technical skills in the world will not make you an expedition leader. The most vocal, creative, skillful, and technical climber doesn’t override the ability to piece together all the collaboration, communication and instinctiveness needed to lead climbers to the top of Mt. Everest. Leadership is not only long term planning but it is communicating an irrefutable trust in your decisions. Everyone who climbs the mountain wants to stand on the top, but not every expedition leader can make that happen. And only those leaders who have gained trust can effectively carry out missions and campaigns.
- Marketing campaigns often fall short of their expected goals and outcomes and sometimes it is because of obvious decisions and sometimes it is because of not so obvious factors like being off schedule, external factors, the environment, lack of resources, lack of oxygen, snow storms, rain, wind, and a multitude of other factors that can knock you off the mountain, forever. Not every person in your work group performs as expected. Not everyone is open to changing course, direction, or instructions. Many persons summiting Mt. Everest never make it to the top. And many will try again. And many climbers will summit several times, successfully. But all will have prepared and will have gathered a team around themselves. They will have surrounded themselves, immersed themselves, and lived to tell of the majestic grandeur of Mt. Everest because of their team. It takes lots of team work, lots of focus, and some reflection of the monumental lessons Mt. Everest holds those who strive to summit and to go beyond the elements knowing that this experience is good for the body, mind and spirit.
This article is dedicated to the efforts of Ian Woodall who summits Mt. Everest to retrieve those who lost their life on the mountain. As Ian so accurately describes Mt. Everest, “There is a lot at stake.” To read about Ian Woodall’s summits to Mt. Everest go to www.ianwoodall.com
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