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Lost on the Knobstone Trail: A Hiking Misadventure Prompts Marketing Insights

by Jenny Henderson | Sep 25, 2020, 13:00 PM
Hiking misadventure

We were on the right track, after becoming hopelessly lost on the Knobstone Trail in Jackson-Washington State Forest. I estimated we had about a tablespoon of potable water left, and roughly three miles to go before we made it back to the car. My husband seemed fine. I was feeling the dehydration set in but decided to save the last bit of water for our intrepid companion, Martha the Bird Dog. 

Exhausted almost to the point of collapse after carrying my 30-pound pack for seven hours, I began reviewing all the ways this quick overnight trip went awry. As I mentally tallied our “lessons learned,” I began to see some parallels between our mistakes and the mistakes businesses make with their marketing strategies – because even when I’m stumbling through a forest, I can’t help but think about marketing.  


Jenny Henderson, enjoying a moment of
levity after getting lost on the Knobstone Trail
(Photo courtesy of Chip Henderson).


Lesson 1: Never trust a map that lacks detail

We were unsure of our exact location when we set up camp Saturday night. We were next to a creek, and the map showed only one creek, so we thought we had a rough idea of where we were. We later learned that dozens of creeks wind through this forest – our location estimate had been off by several miles!

How this lesson applies to marketing

We became lost because we made an incorrect assumption, due to a lack of information. Marketing strategies that begin with a faulty premise will likely be ineffective. Collecting information (like where website traffic is coming from, or how visitors interact with website content) helps define clear marketing strategies with measurable results.

Lesson 2: Always carry a water filter

In the final leg of our journey, we walked alongside a wide, flowing creek, agonizing that we couldn’t drink the water (because: microorganisms). If we had brought a water filter along, we would’ve had an ample supply of water. 

How this lesson applies to marketing

We did not make use of an available resource. Marketing teams don’t need to “recreate the wheel” with every campaign – that’s a waste of time and effort, if there’s a library of content that can be repurposed.

Lesson 3: Don’t overpack

I had tried to prepare for every possible scenario, and in overpacking, I made my pack so heavy that it interfered with our most basic goal: enjoying our hike.

How this lesson applies to marketing

I hampered my ability to walk comfortably by cramming too many items into my pack. When marketers try to use a single piece of content to capture the attention of multiple audiences at different stages of the buying cycle, they’re likely to fail. Every piece of a marketing campaign should be focused, essential, and relevant for the target audience. In other words, pack lightly, and you’ll have an easier time reaching your goals.

The Takeaway 

In backpacking and marketing, trial-and-error is part of the process. When the outcome isn’t what we had anticipated, we need to learn from our mistakes and try again. 


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