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12 Lessons Applied from Extreme Ownership to Marketing

Extreme Ownership

Execution of great marketing strategies is a balance of many variables. Without adequate planning and long-term strategies, agile marketing efforts can derail a brand. But slow and highly critical marketing efforts can stymie one. Somewhere in the middle is success, requiring continued focus on the long-term goals of the organization, but having resources that can shift direction and strategy in real-time as results take shape.

Extreme OwnershipI just finished reading Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. It’s a great read of the lessons on the battlefield and how they can be applied to everyday business efforts. As a Navy Veteran, I suppose I’m not very biased in my appreciation of the book. But as a business owner, I couldn’t agree more with the lessons learned and how they apply to my business.

The words of one page jumped off the paper as I read them. With respect to the authors of the book, I’m going to reword the key elements of leadership and apply them to an organization’s overall marketing strategy:

  1. Goals – analyze the missions of marketing, understanding how they impact your company, your people, and your efforts. Identify and state your marketing mission and end state for each campaign.
  2. Resources – identify budget, personnel, assets, tools, consultants, and time available for each campaign.
  3. Planning – decentralize the planning process, empowering experts of each medium or strategy to analyze possible courses of action.
  4. Selection – determine the best campaigns, leaning toward selecting the simplest campaigns and focusing resources where they’ll have the greatest impact.
  5. Empower  – marketing experts to develop the plan for the selected channel and strategy they have expertise and experience in.
  6. Contingencies – Plan for likely contingencies through each phase of the campaign. How can you maximize results as the campaign is executed? What is the process in the event things go wrong?
  7. Risks – mitigate risks that can be controlled as much as possible. Are there regulatory, editorial, and approval processes that can be applied to ensure compliance?
  8. Delegate – enable your experts to execute portions of the plan while you can stand back and take leadership over the entire process. It’s your job to ensure collisions are avoided, and resources are deployed to ensure overall mission success.
  9. Monitor – continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it continues to perform.
  10. Brief  – communicate the plan to all participants and supporting assets, emphasizing leadership’s intent.
  11. Ask  – ask questions and engage in discussion and interaction with everyone to ensure they understand all aspects of each campaign and how they interact with one another.
  12. Debrief – Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning after the campaign is executed.

Interestingly enough, it didn’t require that I change too many words to apply the same lessons learned on the battlefield to those within a marketing campaign. Through every stage of this process leading up to the campaign and debriefing after it, the focus is set on utilizing resources effectively, deploying them efficiently, and then following up to apply the lessons learned.

There’s also an invisible hierarchy here that should not go unnoticed. If this were the way you managed your marketing department and budget, every campaign would align with the goals of the organization. We’re amazed at how much work that we are asked to do by our clients that does not align with actual value to the organization. If it’s not helping your bottom line – stop doing it!

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