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How I Used Marketing Principles to Catch a Mountain Goat

 After 13 years of applying through a lottery, I could hardly believe my eyes the day the tag came in the mail.  I drew a Mountain Goat tag!!  I couldn't even remember the area I had applied for, but I immediately realized I had my work cut out for me.  It was an archery only unit, I was going to have to get my goat with my bow.  

Because I own a marketing company and am writing for our marketing blog, I thought I'd tell the story of my hunt in a marketing framework.  As I reflected back on nearly six months of anticipation and hunting I realized I truly did employ a strategy almost identical to how we handle inbound marketing campaigns for our clients.  


A Once-In-A-Life-Time Hunt Like This Requires A Lot Of Research


Every new marketing campaign starts with research.  It actually begins during the sales cycle and continues for the life of each campaign.  The more we learn about our clients, their clients, and the problems they solve the more effective we are.  Information is power, understanding all of the variables helps us build a great strategy to execute.  

In preparation for my hunt, I spent a lot of late nights on my laptop.  I used the Department of Wildlife website to research kill reports.  I went back 10 years and mapped the location of every kill in the area I had drawn.  From that research, I was able to target several areas that produced better than the rest.  This was where I would do my scouting during the summer, camping with family and friends with several trips above 13,000 feet looking for goats.  


looking down the valley from Mt. Antero while scouting


I Put Together My Strategy Based On The Data I Harvested


Building a sound campaign strategy before you start cranking out the content is critical to marketing campaign success.  You must spend the time and effort to develop foundational strategy documents for each element of the campaign.  Buyer personas, voice and messaging, offer strategy, and strategies for social, SEO, email, and the blog should all be built out in detail.  The better the strategy, the better the results.

With online research and on the ground scouting complete I put a plan in place.  I decided I would take a jeep trail up to about 10,500 feet and make a base camp on Baldwin Creek.  I could access 4 different peaks from there as a system of Jeep trails could get me close to the goats I had found while scouting in the areas the biggest goats had been previously harvested.  


end of the Boulder Mountain mining road on the 2nd day of my hunt


When The Season Began It Was Time To Work My Ass Off


Once you've put together your marketing strategy it's time for the rubber to meet the road.  Marketers work their asses off for their clients every day.  Writing, designing, developing, publishing and promoting content and marketing assets meant to grow traffic, increase engagement, scoop leads, and nurture them to maturity.  The plan, perform, and analyze continuously for those magical moments when everything goes right and desired results are captured.

The day my season opened I was at Inbound 15 with tens of thousands of marketers with team Revenue River.  Missing the first 6 days of the season was tough but I hit it hard the following week.  I spent four long days Jeeping and hiking my way around the mountains surrounding my base camp looking for goats I just couldn't find.  I ate MRE for dinner and slept on the ground each night, rising before dawn to go at it again.  I hiked over a couple of the nastiest mountain ridges in the Rockies and spent dozens of hours glassing hillsides without seeing a single damn mountain goat.  My hunt was a total bust, I went home exhausted, wondering why I was so ambitious to think I could actually get close enough to a goat to shoot it with an arrow when I couldn't even find one to chase after.  


one of seemingly hundreds of views without goats in them, looking down a steep ridge


When Things Don't Work Out How You Expected, It's Time To Make Adjustments


No matter how much research and planning you do, it doesn't always go your way.  Marketing actions don't always work like you'd like them to. Good marketers know how to make good adjustments.  They know how to analyze the data, identify where things went wrong and make strategic adjustments to improve performance.  When your emails don't get opened as often as you'd like, make changes to the subject line, timing, and distribution list.  Maybe you'll get better results on your next send.  Don't give up, dig in and go after it the next time.  

I didn't know why there were no goats in the area I found them during the summer, but I knew they weren't there.  I had to try something different so I planned a short hunt to a new drainage.  I didn't know of any goats killed above North Fork Reservoir, but a guy told me there was a big Billy living up there so that was good enough for me.  I headed out the door on October 3rd at 4 am and arrived at the reservoir at 7:30 am.  I walked across the dam to hike up the south ridge.  As I turned back to glass the mountains to the North I saw them, three white dots on a grassy ridge about a mile away.  Finally some goats I could hunt!  I hiked back to my Jeep and headed towards Billings Lake to begin my pursuit.  

When I Finally Got My Chance I Came Up Big, Executing In The Clutch


Inbound marketing campaigns are executed for one reason, the end result.  Without the bottom line production of delivering sales-ready leads that eventually turn into new customers for their clients a marketer's future will be at risk.  All of the content and promotion has to come together at some point if you want to win.  You don't buy bread and milk at the store with Twitter fans, you buy them with profit.  

I started hiking up the steepest ridge I'd ever attempted at 8:30 am.  I reached the rim I thought the goats were on 1:45 minutes of hell later.  The goats were there alright, and they were laying down completely unaware that I was lurking a hundred yards away.  I worked the back side of the rim a bit to get a little higher and started towards them.  

The wind was kicking up pretty good, I thought to myself I wanted to get within at least 40 yards before taking a shot to be safe.  The goat I was stocking had his back to me and the wind was in my face, it was perfect.  As I closed the distance to 60 yards I glanced up the hill to my right and saw another goat, looking right at me.  Oh shit, I said to myself as I froze.  We stared each other down for a minute before he stood up.  His buddy I was about to put an arrow through stood up too.  I hit the ground, hoping they wouldn't spook.  A few seconds later I heard hooves on the rocks and looked up to see the goats running away.  Holy shit, I blew it.  

After feeling sorry for myself for a few minutes I started hiking after them.  After a full two hours of hiking across the nastiest scree (a mountain side full of f'n loose boulders) on the planet, I saw them again.  I could see a single goat standing on the spine of a ridge a couple hundred yards ahead of me.  I worked my way closer, coming to a point I couldn't work around without being in full view.  I could now see two of them, they were just hanging out and napping without a care in the world.  I just couldn't get any closer, I was stuck.  

I sat there for an hour trying to figure out what to do.  Would they move?  Would they come close enough for me to get a shot?  I realized after a while that the chances for that scenario to play out were thin.  I had to make something happen or I was going to miss my chance.  I decided to make a stalk across the rocks, knowing I'd be in view of my prey for much of the distance I knew I had to cover.  

There were 90 yards of sharp rocks between me and my dream.   I stripped off my pack, binoculars, and coat.  I set my bow on the rocks as far out as I could reach, got down on my ass, and started crab-crawling.  I moved about a foot at a time, being careful not to make any noise or be seen.  I'd move, move my bow, then move again.  Over and over I repeated this sequence.  One goat in my sight path was restless.  He kept standing up, looking around and laying back down.  Sometimes he laid with his back to me, sometimes facing me directly.  When I could I kept moving, when he was facing me I froze.

It's hard to explain how painfully long this took.  Laying on those rocks for extended time without moving a muscle wasn't a lot of fun.  I was patient, and I was stealthy.  Holy shit was I stealthy :).  As I closed the distance I was forced to freeze as that damn goat faced me for the third time.  I couldn't lift my head without risk of being seen, I just laid there on my back on the shittest rocks on earth.  As I picked my head up for the umpteenth time the goat wasn't in sight.  I sat up a bit and saw three goats standing together, and another laying above them between us.  Wait, there are four goats?  

I ranged the three at 85 yards, too far to shoot.  The fourth goat, although laying in the rocks with his back to me, was only at 63 yards.  I have pins up to 60 yards and have practiced that distance for years.  I knew I could make that shot, and I knew I had to go for it.  What I didn't know was whether I could make the shot at 13,000 feet, in the rocks, from a sitting position.  

I knocked an arrow, took a deep breath, and sat up.  I put my 60-yard pin on his rib cage and squeezed off.  Direct hit!  I made the shot of my life, hitting him perfectly.  So perfectly, he couldn't rise to his feet and run.  He struggled, turning the other direction.  I knocked again, took aim, and put another perfect shot through his kill zone.  He was done, an ethical harvest and the thrill of a lifetime!

Holy shit, I did it!!!  It was all a completely surreal experience to me for the next hour or so.  I hiked back to my gear, loaded up and headed towards my Mountain Goat.  I dug into the skinning and butchering, completing the work in just two hours.  Two hours after that and just as it was completely dark I was back at my Jeep with cape, completely punked out.  A couple of my best friends had hit the road a few hours earlier and they met me just as I arrived.  Together we hiked back for the meat and arrived back to our rigs after 10 pm.  A long drive later I was home in bed at 2 am, 22 hours after leaving the previous morning.  My dream realized, only utter exhaustion let me fall asleep.  


You'll Never Realize Your Dreams If You Don't Take A Shot


One of the reasons I believe marketing is like hunting is the fact that there is no guaranteed result.  However, I guarantee there will never be any results unless you go for it.  Too many people sit on the couch wishing they had a trophy on the wall.  Too many businesses wish they had a better lead generation engine in place but don't invest in it.  Inbound marketing doesn't run itself and it doesn't drive results without effort and spending.  If you want to realize your dream of a bigger business you should get your ass off the couch and build a team and toolset necessary to help you grow.  It won't be easy, it's a steep climb when you start with nothing.  Do the time, be patient, and be stealthy.  I bet you'll get your trophy.