Pardot’s marketing team recently took a trip to Stone Summit, the largest rock climbing gym in the Southeast. As we stared up at the 60 foot wall with an understandable amount of trepidation, we realized that there were a lot of lessons marketers can learn from rock climbing. The experience reminded us of how it feels to be stepping into a brand new marketing campaign — daunting, worrisome, yet exciting.

So what did we learn, you may ask? Good question. Below are just a few of the lessons rock climbing can teach you about elevating your marketing to a new level.

Lesson 1: Campaigns take planning. So does climbing a rock wall.

The first steps onto a rock wall are a lot like the first steps planning a campaign. Where do you start? Where do you want to go? What is your goal? What are you going to do if you get stuck? How does this campaign (or climb) fit into your overall goal or strategy? If you don’t ask yourself these questions and plan out your “moves” ahead of time, your campaigns will lack both preparation and direction.

Lesson 2: Know how to adapt when things don’t go as planned.

It’s very likely that you’ll run into a tough spot when you’re climbing a route. At this point, you’re faced with several options, just like when you encounter problems in your professional life. You can either berate yourself for the missteps that got you into trouble in the first place, consider giving up and making an excuse (faking an injury will probably work better for climbing than work), or you can adapt. The latter is probably the best option. If you run into an obstacle in the middle of a marketing campaign, there’s almost always a different approach you could be taking. Perhaps you should be using a different promotional channel, targeting different sites with your ads, or optimizing your images for search. Just take a deep breath, look at all of your options, and try again.

Lesson 3: Sometimes, you just have to go for it.

At some point, you’re going to be staring at a climbing hold that’s way too far away to reach. It’s times like these that you’re faced with a startling realization: you just have to go for it. When necessary, marketers should also be willing to take risks. If you hit a roadblock and it feels like you’ve explored every outlet available to you, it might be time to get creative. Try using new copy on your landing pages, changing up your site layout, or revamping your email marketing campaign. Sometimes, big changes can have big payoffs.

Lesson 4: Evaluate.

Climbers are all about progression. When they finish a route, they think about what they did to reach the top and how they can do it better in the future. Then they apply that knowledge to a harder, more advanced route. Marketing works the same way. During (and after) your campaigns, run reports and evaluate your results. Are you getting the returns that you wanted? Are you reaching the right prospects? Based on these reports, think about how you can improve your campaign so that you can take it one step further.

Now, when you finish your marketing campaigns, you probably shouldn’t be lying at the base of a rock wall in an exhausted, chalk-covered heap. But, you should be feeling a similar sense of elation! Just keep these lessons in mind when you decide to tackle your next marketing campaign.

Do you have any other lessons to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

Jenna Hanington

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