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The Cabin in the Woods Experiment: What being sequestered can do for your marketing plan
Marketing Strategy

The Cabin in the Woods Experiment: What being sequestered can do for your marketing plan

Many moons ago (okay, only a few moons ago), I was a corporate marketing director for a B2B training organization. We had a large in-house marketing team that included a mix of marketing practitioners and creatives (writers, designers, etc.). The company was undergoing one of its largest growth endeavors in history, focused on increasing revenue and creating new product offerings. 

From a marketing perspective, we had a lot to do:

  • Drive interest and create leads for the existing set of training offerings and related products.
  • Support an ever-growing inside sales organization
  • Engage existing customers with ongoing content and resources to help them be successful (and remain loyal)
  • Create brand awareness for the organization as a whole
  • Announce and market new products as they became available

Like a lot of B2B organizations, the services were a complex sale - involving many buyers - and we had a complex story to consistently tell (and try to simplify).

Closing the Loop

Near the end of Q1, my counterpart, the Creative Director and I had a moment of feeling overwhelmed. How did we “keep the lights on” with the existing marketing activity (those first 3 bullets above), while working on a big splash for the new products to launch? It certainly wasn’t impossible, but it was challenging to find the time to create the necessary headspace to get to the objectives at hand. 

The President of the company said we needed time to “close the loop” on our plans and active projects to really move forward. She sent us on a retreat to “go dark” - out of the office, and offline, so we could focus and really get $h!t done.

We found a cabin in the woods (in Cross Plains, WI) for the week. 

Big Cabin in the Big Woods

Of course, we went in March, in Wisconsin, so it wasn’t nearly as lush as this photo. But this is the actual cabin.


We packed all the necessities - large post-it pads, markers, our laptops and set up a war-room in the dining room to start to map out our plan of attack. We told our teams - who were already incredibly self-driven and self-sufficient - to only contact us if it was an emergency.


The doll in the high-chair became part of the team and helped us process some of the most challenging bits.

Even though we were working in a remote/sequestered location for the week, we took it upon ourselves to create some structure for our days. Just like any of the advice you read about success working remotely, we got up, showered and fully dressed for each day. We also broke the chunks of the day up into collaborative time for BIG picture stuff, alone time for individual projects, and regroup time to work through it all together.


Me, full of hope and big marketing thoughts over morning coffee, and Matt (the aforementioned Creative Director) in a solo-time, get-stuff-done-by-yourself moment.


In the true spirit of “staying off the grid,” we even played board games at night to use our brains and have a little fun. 



At the end of the week, we got a lot done that I won’t bore you with here, but it boiled down to seeing how all of our initiatives fit together into something like this:

What followed was a set of action items - prioritized within each of the four categories (Product Marketing, Branding/Awareness, Sales Enablement, and Customer Retention) that we presented to leadership first, and then to our team.  These action items then became a streamlined set of activities for the remainder of the year.


Why am I telling you all of this?

Because with all of the COVID-19/Coronavirus social distancing and forced working from home going on, I’m reminded of how productive this sequestered week was…and encourage you to think about how to maximize the time you have out of the office.

You’re likely gaining anywhere from 2-3 hours a day without your commute or those interruptions that get you out of “flow” when it comes to task execution.

And you probably have a nagging list of projects and ideas on your plate that you’ll get to “someday” when the day-to-day craziness slows down. But it never does.

Except it is. Right now.  


Tackle that list!

Just start by creating it and seeing it all in front of you. Here are some ideas based on either things I always wanted to get to as a marketing director - or things I hear clients and prospects say now: 

  • Update your corporate overview brochure
    Strengthen the language and modernize the aesthetic
  • Create stronger case studies for the sales team
  • Clean up those PowerPoint decks
    (You know the ones) that you've seen people in your org use in the new business meetings

  • Audit all that collateral that's being used across the organization
    Create a centralized list and repository of what people SHOULD be using, even if it's just in a shared network folder or on Google drive.

  • Refresh the look of your collateral
    Create a system so that Case Studies vs. Sell Sheets/Product or Service Overviews and other "1-pagers" are connected yet differentiated enough
  • Edit the "About Us" page on your website
  • Talk to customer service or support folks
    Find out what they are hearing from customers to get insights into what ongoing value you need to create for them
  • Create an eBook to use for prospects
    Using those same insights you got from customer service and support
  • Clean up a landing page for your marketing campaign (or create one!)
    Test new headlines, new CTAs, new offers
  • Write a blog or two
    And, write 3-4 headlines for that blog
  • Look at your analytics reports for the last 3-6 months
    Really look at them. What insights are you potentially missing?
  • Audit your videos
    See how they could be improved. Do they have a title slide and ending CTA? Quick edits could make these better lead gen tools for you!

That list was super random, but as I said above, you have to start somewhere. And, you don’t have to do it all at once! But I bet you could wrap your thoughts around a few of these initiatives in the coming days and feel like you have a better handle on an actionable plan. 


Need help sorting through those nagging projects on your marketing bucket list? We’re ready to help. Get started with a remote meeting with our team of marketing experts today.

Heather Vaughn

Heather Vaughn

Marketing Services Director

Heather Vaughn is CI Design's Marketing Services Director. Her marketing career has been split with equal time on the agency and client sides, giving her a 360 perspective on marketing, and a keen understanding of how to use all its glorious data. With a blend of account, project management, and content strategy skills, she loves working with teams to connect the dots and craft marketing solutions that work.

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