I have been involved with the Boy Scouts for many years. While I’m not currently doing any scouting, I was a Cub Scout, Webelo and Boy Scout as a kid. As an adult, I was an adult volunteer, Assistant Scoutmaster of a Troop in Ohio and started a Cub Scout pack in Georgia. One of my biggest regrets in life was not working harder as a Boy Scout to get my Eagle Scout rank. It didn’t mean anything to me as an early teen and baseball and band took over my life as more important activities.
The Boy Scouts is a fine organization. They teach boys how to be better students, better stewards of the land, better citizens and better men. It’s hard to find many critics of the program’s outreach and positive influence on boys. But I think there’s another great benefit to be gained from Scouting. It makes better business people and marketers.
Those of you who grew up in Scouting are smiling already and can probably jump ahead to the punch line, so let’s begin.
The Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared!
Need I go on? Someone asked Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts in about 1908, “Be prepared for what?” To which Baden-Powell responded “Why, for any old thing.”
Baden-Powell wasn’t just thinking about emergencies either. He thought Scouts should prepare themselves to become good and productive citizens and to be ready in mind and body for any of life’s struggles that might lie ahead. He wanted Scouts to be prepared for life! He wanted the boys to live happily and without regret, knowing that they had done their best. That’s really what Scouting is about, at its core.
Marketers could adopt the same approach for their businesses. Be prepared for business! Anyone who’s worked in business knows that every day brings a new challenge, even for the best run organizations. For small and medium businesses, the challenge is even greater due to the small staff and many duties for which each member of the team is responsible. So how do you ‘Be Prepared’ in your business?
Take time to Research
It’s difficult to run a successful marketing effort if you don’t understand the market, haven’t researched the industry, don’t know the trends, and so forth. I know folks get tired of me talking about research, but it really is the ‘secret sauce’ of the Ad4! Marketing Strategy. We take the time to do the research which you don’t or won’t do. You think you know your market. You think you understand your customers. When was the last time you surveyed your customers? What’s the preferred method of distribution for new businesses in your industry? How will business be conducted in the future?
If you don’t have a clue about these topics, then you don’t know your industry.
Create an Action Plan
Working by yourself or with your staff if appropriate, create an action plan for each promotion activity in your arsenal. I like to use an Excel spreadsheet and identify deadlines, budgets, responsible parties, time-frames, and so forth. This keeps everything handy and in one place for review by individual, by product line, or by campaign type.
You can plug in performance measurements from campaign to campaign, or type to type to see how the same individual is managing different client accounts, or how different account managers are handling the same type of marketing activity. When you share this with your staff, it makes it easier for everyone to understand what is required.
Measure Your Performance
If you don’t know where you are now, how can you know when you get there? And where is there? Measure your performance on a regular basis and share the information with your staff. Get them involved in the measurement and goal setting process. It does almost no good for you to set goals and measure your progress in secret. If you employees know what the goals are and especially if you get them involved in the measurement process and goal setting, they’ll get excited about growing the company. Create a system that allows them to make decisions about the effectiveness of the campaigns for which they are responsible. Only with good feedback can they modify their plans and improve performance.
Good Boy Scouts would make a plan before heading off on a hike or camping trip. They’d research the destination. They’d understand the surroundings, water sources, wildlife, and natural dangers. Boy Scouts would create an action for sleeping, eating, hiking, getting to their destination and back home. They’d also measure their performance on the hike. Did we take enough water? Did we have enough breaks? Did we have enough food? Did anyone suffer an injury? They’d look at these measurements and use that information to have a better trip next time.
If the Boy Scouts can do it, maybe we can too!
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