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Another Marketing Lesson from the Wiz: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road
© Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ever had that recurring dream? You know the one. You're somewhere familiar, a place you know like the back of your hands, when suddenly, with one wrong turn, the scene changes, and nothing is recognizable to you. You feel like you are in a maze. No matter the doors you unlock and the corners you take, you're stuck in this abyss of the unknown. What's worse—you can't wake up. Try as you may. Your eyes won't open.

Leading our organizations can feel like an endless nightmare threatening to keep us lost, tussling with the unfamiliar. There are many days when it seems like despite our best efforts; we remain unfound. How do we awaken from this torturous slumber? Believe it or not, the answer lies within The Wizard of Oz. This classic cinema film offers us yet another marketing lesson we can't afford to ignore.

This one features The Yellow Brick Road and the main character herself, Dorothy Gale. Similar to our reoccurring dream, Dorothy found herself in uncharted territory. One minute she was running from a funnel cloud, then the next, she was surrounded by tiny little humans, better known as Munchkins, questioning her witch status, trying to make sense of her arrival. "Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore," Dorothy declares as the one thing she is confident of.

Dorothy does the smart thing, however. Before making any major moves, she obtains sound insight and advice. She surveys her surroundings and begins to make sense of it with those more knowledgeable. Dorothy's interaction with the Witch of the North, Glinda, was centered on capturing an understanding of her current situation. Glinda's instructions also detailed steps Dorothy must take to reach her end goal—home.

The wisdom of Dorothy is not to be overlooked. When we find our organizations in a foreign land, our first step is data and insight gathering. Like the Kansas voyager, the immediate action involves obtaining answers that should influence and inform our next move. If marketing has been utilized and executed accurately within your organization, then insights should be within reach. Take time to study, examine, and analyze the information available to you. Allow it to provide a thorough explanation, and where interpretation is necessary, seek the expertise of a specialist, one most acquainted with where you are.

Use what you learned to set a goal, a final destination. Dorothy had hers in hand—locate the Wizard and get back home. Craft the instructions and path needed to carry you from lost to found. Identify where the organization needs to land when all is said and done. Then construct a plan that will take you there. Now, this isn't a general overview. No, think of this more like a map. The last thing you want when encircled by the unknown is to generalize forward progress. Be specific, set measures, and determine your ETA. In doing so, you remain accountable and motivated to see the plan through.

Mimic what our beloved Dorothy did next. Follow The Yellow Brick Road. That plan you just flushed out, that's your path out of the dark. Use it to guide you to the goals defined and outcomes required to lift your organization out of the fog. Allow every step taken to be determined by the highlighted road in front of you. There will be temptations to veer off course. When that happens, set your eyes on the plan and get back on track.

Listen, there will be opposition and deterrence along the way, from heartless tin men to winged monkeys. However, as Glinda reminded Dorothy, she had everything she needed to return home the entire time, and so do you. The external environment caused Dorothy to look outwards when what she needed was inward. Studies have shown that our recurring dream of being lost has all to do with worry and anxiety caused by something unsettling in our lives—external concerns influencing our internal subconscious. When your organization encounters a period of the unfamiliar, gut-check internal factors, reset, and follow your golden highway towards a new world you now know.


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