woman climbing

Get a grip: what climbing (and an unexpected marriage proposal) can teach you about great marketing

Bouldering. It’s indoor climbing with crash mats but without a harness. Sounds tough, right? Well so is creating great campaigns. Here’s how not to fall flat on your face, according to CMO, Emily Jarvis.

woman climbing

My Twitter followers know all too well that I’ve been bouldering (or, climbing) for two years. You’ll see me making my ascent at Highball most weekends. Around the same time, my professional career moved from publishing into marketing.

Turns out, this was no coincidence.

The two have a lot more in common than you think.

Here’s five ways to find your balance and deal with the daily grind of creative challenges coming your way — with added climbing-based puns and slang thrown-in.

1. Offering marketing advice is no different to giving Beta to strangers

Beta: Beta means information about a climb. In rock climbing this may include a climb’s difficulty, crux, style, length, quality of rock, ease to protect, required equipment, and specific information about hand or foot holds.

man climbing boulder

You want people to read your stuff, right?

Half right. You want people to read your stuff and engage with your brand.

It doesn’t matter how many people help you to hone your writing technique or strategy along the way. It’s about results.

The Means Agency helps you to get these results. We want to see you do well (and we hope you also want to see us do well in return).

Whether it’s just advice on a piece of content or an existing strategy, I am a big fan of taking out the red pen and talking through the ways to get even better results.  

I call it Emily’s “Consultancy Beta”.

2. Follow your route to the finish

indoor bouldering

Creating a marketing strategy that goes off without a hitch doesn’t exist. Your market is super competitive, there’s assorted challenges and sometimes roadblocks in the way that you have to deal with before you reach your goal. And that’s before you’ve taken into account the key performance indicators (KPIs) and stakeholder targets you have to meet.

The route to the top can be full of micro-challenges that take additional time and learning to complete. Keep a grip on the task at hand and stay focused.

Once you match both hands on that final hold all of this only makes the mental reward of completing such a feat much greater.

3. Strength doesn’t always prevail over technique

…The same applies to your marketing strategy. Your own tenacity doesn’t prevail over experience.

The more times you complete point #2, the more you learn from your mistakes. You identify the parts of your campaign that worked and those that needed improving. You analyse the numbers and you identify ways to improve next time.

It’s a continuous cycle where you learn from your experience. But you also get a little stronger each time.

You can use this to get more ambitious, more daring with your ideas and push the limits of your skills that little bit closer to the danger zone.


I once saw an avid gym-goer on his first climbing session. Much to his frustration, his muscular physique held him back. He underestimated the amount of technique required to climb. You can’t go in guns blazing and expect to succeed.

So practice, learn and apply.

4. Reaching for the goal early means you can miss important details

Being taller doesn’t necessarily make you better at climbing. It makes you lazy. You skip entire steps of your strategy.  It also uses more of your strength and leaves you less prepared for the next climb. We like to call this “the accordion approach”, as illustrated by my friend below:

Climbing a boulder

The marketing moral? These footholds are there to help your campaign succeed. You could be missing important details that make your campaign more accessible for your audience. Like only advertising your business on Twitter because it’s easier than LinkedIn. You could be cutting corners — if your audience is more engaged on LinkedIn, that’s where you should be.

I refer you back to point #3: Practice your technique, learn and apply the strength in the right places.

5. You will fall more than once, but there will be rewards

So your budget gets cut, or you lose a marketing colleague. That marketing campaign isn’t going anywhere though. This is your comeback, a chance to re-evaluate your strategy and decide on the most exciting ways to deliver it.

Even with all the planning in the world, you could still fall flat on your face. It’s how you pick yourself up that matters.

In the constant battle to achieve your targets, don’t forget to reward yourself and your team for the little things. You still carried out a campaign as a team, and that’s worth celebrating. The announcer from the MoneySupermarket ads would call it a: “workplace win”.

sprained ankle

I sprained my ankle last year while climbing and learned this the hard way. It’s the old “pick yourself back up and keep trying” routine. So I had to take an eight week break and motivate myself to pick the sport back up.

During that injury-enforced absence, something happened that I couldn’t have predicted. The personal climb of my relationship with my boyfriend reached a new height. He proposed. And I said, ‘Yes.’

Don’t get me wrong: I know the proposal is just the start of another climb, as anyone who has planned a wedding will tell you and marriage will be a whole new mountain to conquer. But I’m not climbing alone. And neither are you…

ring on finger

Want to Flash your marketing and get your Beta from The Means agency? We can help you get a foothold on your strategy and bump-up your campaigns. Have a look around our brand new website and drop us a line if you want to work with us hello@themeans.rocks.