Don’t die out in the Social Media frozen tundra. (It is a 20 mile march)
In October 2011 Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen published the business book Great by Choice, a follow up to Collin’s book Good to Great in 2001. In it, they reported on greatly successful companies they had studied for 9 years and labeled as “10X’ers”. (10 x’s the productivity) What they found was that instead of constantly reacting and changing course, making really aggressive moves, and taking big risks, these companies came up with a plan, and carefully, methodically, and consistently stuck with that plan. They moved ever towards their long-term goals instead of getting side-tracked by short-term temptations, fears, and changing circumstances. The authors defined this methodology as the “20 Mile March”. Carrying out your goals, as if your were marching 20 miles a day, every day, rain or shine. And you will reach your goals better and faster than someone going dark in “bad weather” and then sprinting in good.
What the authors didn’t find out until after they wrote the book was that 100 years prior, In December 1911, the winning strategy to reach the South Pole had borne out the same methodology. A British team, led by Robert Falcon Scott, and a Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen, set out to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen beat Scott to the Pole and had a pretty smooth and uneventful journey both there and back. Scott reached the Pole only to be crushed that the Norwegians had been there first. And he and his four men ended up perishing on the grueling 700-mile return trip, mainly due to bad planning and execution. Collins and Hansen found, among the many other lessons learned comparing the two expeditions, that much of Amundsen’s success can be traced to creating his own plan, and then carrying it out with methodical, disciplined consistency. In other words, sticking with his “20 Mile March”.
Side note: Amundsen did not measure his daily progress in hours, or even miles; instead, he used latitudinal degrees. One-quarter of a degree of latitude equalled 15 nautical miles, and Amundsen realized that knocking off one degree of latitude every four days, inching their way across the map, would be highly motivating for the team.
So what can we learn from this and apply to our everyday Marketing Communications planning and tactics?
You need to define your length of the journey depending on your objectives and urgency of your Comms mission.
Your 20 mile communications march per day might be:
- Mon, Wed, Fri for a month – the most heat, if you have a hot job placement to make, or an Event or Holiday deliverable
- Once a week for a Quarter – if you might have a seasonality goal, medium heat to boost a sales goal, or put the brakes on a nagging decline
- Once a month for a year – a slower simmer, for longer-term consistent brand building, or seeding the idea for a future launch (or re-positioning)
But regardless of your goals, the really important distinguishing point of Amundsen’s journey, and the thrust of Great by Choice, is that the team executes their mileage goals no matter whether stormy or sunny or in between.
Plan the work, and work the plan, no matter what.
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