Succeeding with the Shotgun Approach

A quote by hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky gets recited with some frequency in corporate circles. 

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  

Mr. Gretzky’s quote is motivational and understandable.  Go to where the puck is heading, or you’ll be too late and miss your opportunity.  

I don’t play hockey but I do shoot sporting clays.  I’ll use that sport to expand on Mr. Gretzky’s concept. 

Sporting Clays  

In sporting clays you’re attempting to hit a flying clay target with pellets fired from a shotgun.  It’s sometimes referred to as “golf with a shotgun.”  Except in golf the greens don’t move.  

Similar to golf, you travel around a course and shoot from different stations.  Some targets are moving slow, some fast.  Some are high, some low.  Some traveling right to left, others left to right.  Some targets are moving away while others travel directly toward you.  

For a business example, imagine the sporting clays course as the marketplace.  Clay targets — those flying 4 inch discs — are your customers and prospects.  

The more targets you break, the higher your score.  Kind of the same thing with your business isn’t it?  Every customer is in motion.  Yet, almost none of them are on the same trajectory.  

The Shotgun Approach

There’s an old reference, less used today because of firearm sensitivity, about the shotgun versus the rifle approach.  A shotgun shoots dozens of little pellets.  A rifle fires a single projectile.  

The shotgun approach is usually deemed bad due to its lack of focus.  The rifle approach, conversely, focuses narrowly on the target.  Focus sounds good.  The shotgun approach is scattered.  Scattered sounds bad.  

But there’s a problem with the rifle approach.  It only works if your target is stationary.   Are your customers sitting still?  What about the marketplace, is it sitting still?  Of course not.  Customers and the marketplace are changing as rapidly as ever.

Your Business

So there’s your business on the sporting clays course known as the marketplace.  Targets are flying everywhere.  You opt for the shotgun approach, knowing dozens of pellets are better than a single projectile.  Your pellets are every effort you exert to grow your business: 

Phone calls, direct mail, website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, sales calls, consulting meetings, trade shows, television ads, podcast interviews, radio spots, print media, promotional incentives, blogs, Youtube videos, email, civic club involvement, public relations, and professional association membership.    

Long list isn’t it?  What are your pellets?  List every action you take to grow business.  

Most pellets will completely miss your target.  The good news?  It only takes a couple pellets to break a target.  And the two pellets that were successful this shot, won’t be next time.  That’s why you need lots of pellets! 

Back to Wayne Gretzky

As Mr. Gretzky articulated, there’s no opportunity in skating to where the puck has been.  Likewise, you fail in sporting clays unless you aim where the target is GOING, not where it has been.  

To succeed, you pull the trigger while pointing at bare air several feet in front of the target.  Because that’s where the target will be when your pellets arrive.  Same goes for the marketplace.  Put the pellets of your effort where customers will be, not where they’ve been. 

Damian Mason is a businessman, speaker, agriculturist, writer, and sporting clays shooter.  He doesn’t play hockey. 

Angie Carel