How Axe Throwing Can Make You a Better Marketer

Axe throwing is a traditional Canadian lumberjack sport that requires precision and practice to hit a target. Modern marketers also must have these skills in order to carry out successful marketing campaigns that resonate with their audience. While attending Unbounce’s Call-To-Action Conference in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to take a try at the sport!

Comparing the largest key points from the 2016 CTA Conference to axe throwing is an easy way to understand the emerging strategies revealed at the event—and ultimately increase conversions for your organization. Apply these 5 principles to your next marketing initiative to please your audience and increase your marketing ROI:

Take Risks

This whole axe throwing thing was quite intimidating (especially since I wasn’t blessed with lumberjack genes). Yet despite initial hesitations and lack of qualifications, I decided to take a leap of faith and try it out.

High Risk = High Reward

Taking a risk is equally as important for marketing campaigns. As told by Erin Bury of 88 Creative, you must take a cultural risk in order to produce memorable and impactful marketing messages. No idea is too far-fetched (not even advertising on PornHub). Create and do something that no one else has attempted before. Erin suggests taking the following precautions when attempting a marketing risk:

  • Find an influential decision maker
  • Answer the what-ifs before they’re asked
  • Demonstrate strategy
  • Do a test campaign

Generate Targets

Luckily, Axe Thrown, the company which provided the experience, already had targets set up. However, recreational axe throwing can involve identifying a tree or some other target to throw to. Without a target, there is no purpose or goal for throwing the axe.

Make your CTA targeted and easy to follow; plainly tell people what to do.

Marketers need to create targets for their visitors so that they can have a purpose and/or goal for entering your landing page, website, etc. In the marketing world, these targets translate to your call-to-actions. As announced at the CTA Conference, Oli Gardner of Unbounce’s first rule of calls-to-action:

"have a F^@$ING call-to-action"

Don’t make your audience search around for something to do on your site - give them a target to hit. The second rule is to make your CTAs targeted, plain, and relevant.

Learn By Doing

To learn how to throw an axe, you’ve got to actually try to throw an axe. This technique is known as heuristics, learning by doing. I didn’t hit the target the first or second time, but each time I understood more and more of the technique behind the sport.

In today’s world, people are inundated with content, so we need to help them have an authentic experience that rises above the noise.

Authenticity is a byproduct of heuristics. We, as marketers, need to be more authentic, more intentional with our messaging. We need to stop using technology to create white noise in inboxes. Instead, we need to make marketing more authentic by giving our leads a genuine experience, as Matthew Sweezey of Salesforce advised.

Embrace Mistakes

As you continue to try to hit your target, mistakes are inevitable. (Obviously mine come with a foot stomp.)

Recipients like to see that you’re human, even if that means you’ve made a mistake and are showing an effort to resolve it.

We’re human, we make mistakes. There will be typos; there will be mis-fired emails. Stephanie Grieser of Unbounce shined a positive light and reiterated Matthew Sweezey’s point by explaining that your audience likes to see that you’re human. There will be times that you’ll have to send that apology email for mis-linking, misinterpreted information, or other mistakes. Yet, studies show that these “apology emails” have higher open rates.

Measure Inputs

Finally! A bullseye! But do you understand what went into the throw to get to that bullseye? Early or late release? Right or left foot forward? To become an axe throwing master, you must be able to fully comprehend the mechanics and inputs that go into a successful throw.

To be a master of marketing, one must unveil universal inputs that correlate to success. 

More often than not, marketers focus on the outcomes of their initiatives, but never focus on what the exact inputs were that created that successful outcome in the first place. Rand Fishkin of Moz preaches that marketers must determine and measure the inputs that correlate to success so you can recreate it time and time again.

Overall, just be a human.

All in all, the CTA Conference repeatedly honed in on the fact that marketers need to embrace their human nature and adopt the process of experiment, failure, and discovery. Creating plain and simple targets and then measuring inputs will help us understand what correlates to success. So, we must learn by doing, which often involves risk and may very well include failure.

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