There I was, slouched on my bed, asking the ceiling for the 24th time, “What DOES one pack for two weeks in a middle eastern desert?”
Sun hat? Check. Hiking shoes? Fo’ sho’. Sunscreen? Make that three bottles — because I’m so pale that I glow. I tucked my passport in my purse and, without knowing a single person, embarked on a 14-day adventure to Israel.
My mind was blown on this trip, a whirlwind of experiences, knowledge and insights I never knew existed. And while the sojourn yielded many personal revelations, I humorously noted the similarities between a rugged desert adventure and the life of a marketing professional.
I’m happy to report I came back sunburn-free (here’s to you, SPF) and equipped with five lessons to inspire you in your business ventures.
1. Be adventurous.
This trip to Israel was initially frightening — and not just for the obvious reasons. On a giddy whim, I signed up to travel with a group of people whom I had never met. Ever. But we were a group that shared the same passion. And I quickly found that we were open to whatever the adventure held, and we were palpably excited for whatever discovery might be just around the corner.
We should approach our PR strategies with the same curiosity, eagerness and sense of adventure. After the foundational research has shaped the marketing plan, be open to new ideas, fresh twists and creative risks. You won’t ever discover new surprises if you don’t venture beyond your own known territory.
2. Learn the whole story.
Our tour group had the privilege of visiting a series of Biblical sites throughout the Holy Land. But our tour guide didn’t just drone through the usual facts. He provided a wealth of cultural background and historical insights that invigorated each location with color and meaning. He connected dots and answered long-standing questions that often made us smack our foreheads and say, “THAT’S what that means!”
Are you doing the same in your marketing? Adept marketers and agency partners will take the time to learn the entire story to inform a successful strategy. This might include developing a full understanding of your audience, immersing yourself in the public narrative around your brand or exploring the ins and outs of a new product in market segments. Every angle adds critical perspective that can change the interpretation of a situation and direct the approach.
3. Trust your leader.
Fun fact: none of us were given an itinerary.
From day to day and literarily minute to minute, we were asked to simply trust our guide. (I won’t deny; there were a few times I wanted to pelt him with stones as we clawed up the side of a ravine in 100-degree heat). But our guide had proven his mettle and was expertly equipped for the journey. Similarly, trust your agency and your partners. You’ve properly vetted them and joined hands with people who share your vision. Trust them to carry their weight, craft a successful strategy and get results.
4. Sometimes it gets hot.
We hiked an average of seven daily miles across desert mountains in 98-107-degree heat. In business, high stakes can create pressure as you might be required to meet aggressive goals or navigate steep change. It happens. A competitive market will necessitate competitive strategies. But don’t stop trucking. Curling up under a scratchy desert bush would have only temporarily assuaged my discomfort and prolonged reaching my destination. Define clear goals, craft a research-based strategy, link arms with your partners and keep going.
5. Go back to your roots.
ICYMI, I have kind of a different first name. Cherith. I’ve spent my entire life trying to explain the pronunciation. (It’s like “Chair” with an “-ith” on the end, or “cherish” with a “th.”) I’ve often been asked about its origin. There’s only one origin, and it’s not all that glamorous. I was named after a ravine (or “wadi”) where a Biblical miracle took place. (If you’re interested, hit up 1 Kings 17:2-5.) I had always wondered what that place must have looked like. Somewhere around day six of our trip, we trekked for two hours in the scorching heat across Jericho Road. We crested a ridge, and lo and behold, there it was. My namesake. The Brook Cherith or Wadi Cherith.
When things get hot and hairy, take a vital moment to reconnect with why you started. What are your core values? What change are you pursuing? What is your inspiration? Reconnect with the bigger picture.
Oh, and always wear sunscreen.
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