Lessons Learned from a Veteran

It takes special men and women to serve in the armed forces.  My family is loaded with veterans. My mother & father served, as well as my brother and my son, not to mention countless relatives.  Needless to say, veterans mean the world to me.  One of the many veterans I look up to is General Colin Powell.


Like many who have served, he has a myriad of stories about life in military service.  He shared this one about a young and ambitious second lieutenant, who had his sights set on becoming a general. One night at the officer’s club, he asked an old general what it takes.

“You’ve got to work like a dog,” answered the old general. “You’ve got to have moral and physical courage.  There may be days when you are tired, but you must never show fatigue. You’ll be afraid, but you must never show fear. You must always be the leader.” 

“Thank you sir,” said the young officer, excited about the advice he had received. “So, this is how I become a general?” he asked.  The old general looked the young officer in the eye and said, “No. That’s how you become a first lieutenant. To become a general you keep doing it over, and over, and over.”

That same level of dedication is necessary for your marketing campaign - in order to transform a member of your target audience into a loyal customer. 

You have to be willing to put in the work from the beginning of the advertising cycle to the end; from the awareness phase (external advertising to pique interest) to the decision phase (on-hold advertising which reinforces your image).

It takes intestinal fortitude to stand by the courage of your convictions and continue your ad campaign even when you haven’t seen the results you were expecting right away.  Also, you must resist fatigue. Stay the course with your marketing efforts even when you are tired of the process.  (Keep in mind, as you begin to tire of a campaign – your audience is just beginning to receive the message. Give it time.)

You may be afraid that the economic climate is not conducive to continuing your ad campaign. Be Fearless. Make adjustments to the campaign if needed, but don’t give in to fear and stop advertising.  Striving to establish top of mind awareness for your business is integral to growth - especially during challenging economic times. 

Finally, always lead your customers.  This is never more important than when you place them on hold.

Take the lead by engaging callers with a professionally produced, informative program. Educate them about additional services you provide.  Entertain them with a creatively produced advertising campaign – this is so much more than just messages and music.  Take advantage of this opportunity, and lead.

Veterans have so much wisdom to share that is applicable to life and business.  Colin Powell’s story reminds us the key to reaching goals is committing to excellence in the details. Then, repeat that process religiously until the goal is achieved.

Let this principle guide your marketing campaign throughout the advertising cycle. Then, it will be no mystery as to why more and more of your target-audience become loyal, repeat customers. It is because of the way they are treated from the moment they first hear about you through each time they call.

‘Spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hour and ages that follow it.’

- Ralph Waldo Emerson  

Tom McTee, Super Genius

Tom McTee