Over the last few months, I have been preparing to take my first solo cross country flight on a small aircraft. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life. There’s a beautiful freedom and pleasure that comes with soaring through the skies, high above the traffic and chaos below, feeling in control and purposeful as the pilot in command of the aircraft. What I never expected, however, was how two of my main loves–flying and marketing–actually pair perfectly when it comes to the concept of preparing for a mission. Both require a strategy to complete their mission safely and successfully. Flying, of course, involves risk that requires the highest level of detail and multiple checklists before a safe take-off is possible. Before launching a marketing campaign, a different, yet equally intense level of planning and preparation is necessary to achieve a smooth launch as well. I’d like to share a formula that we use in the aviation world to help us prepare well for every flight. It’s also applicable to marketing as well and it is called PAVE, an acronym reminding us of the four main areas that must be in tip top condition before a flight: pilot, aircraft, environment and external circumstances. P is for PILOT For a mission to succeed, we must have the right person in the cockpit! Whether we’re talking about a cross country flight or launching a new product, the people in charge must be well-trained, experienced and impeccable at what they do. As a team leader, one of the first things I do to plan a project is assemble the right people. This usually includes a content writer, graphic designer, social media expert, project manager, or whoever else has the skills to help bring the job to completion. They have my faith and confidence to do a good job for the client, just as I have faith and confidence that the pilot in the cockpit (me or someone else!) has the ability to take off and land the plane successfully. A is for AIRCRAFT Nobody can take off in an aircraft that has missing or inoperable parts. Our “craft” must be in excellent condition before it can take us anywhere. We pilots call this pre-flight inspection a “checkride”, and it is an indispensable step before take-off. Then there are procedures we must follow every time in order to make sure everything is in place. For example, we prime the propeller by turning it 15 times before we start the plane. In business, this equates to our own systems and procedures. What special procedures and “rituals” do we have in place to operate effectively on behalf of our clients? Are they in good order or do they need tweaking? One way to optimize our effectiveness is to make sure all our equipment is in working order. V is for ENVIRONMENT. When I became a pilot, I had to learn a lot about the weather because the wind and the clouds can critically affect the safety, speed and other aspects of a flight. Likewise, we must pay heed to the environment of our business for our mission to be successful. We must also be aware of the environment in our competitive marketplace. Are there storms on the horizon that could adversely affect sales? Is the competition causing us to reroute our trajectory? Are the skies clear, signaling a good time for accelerated growth? Like any good pilot, we must be in tune to our business environment, navigate it wisely and change course when necessary. E is for EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Sometimes things just come up that will change our plans for take-off or landing of any mission. We may become sick, another member of our team may be unavailable for the flight or the airport we need may be closed. Here’s when our “can do” attitude must kick in to forge ahead or reschedule the mission as needed. The same applies to business in every way. We often need to find a way to “take the trip” when the circumstances aren’t ideal, and maybe even find a new mode of transportation. I’ve always said that because of the careful inspection and multitude of double checks inherent in aviation, flying is one of the safest things I do. Remembering the acronym PAVE is a great way to organize our thoughts and play it safe during our next campaign or big business venture. By being aware of the ingredients necessary for a smooth take-off, a successful flight and safe landing in our endeavors, we can ensure a better, safer mission for everyone involved. Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz is the CEO of JJR Marketing (www.jjrmarketing.com) and Fig Factor Media LLC (www.todayslatina.com), founder of The Fig Factor Foundation (www.thefigfactor.org), author of eight books (www.jackiecamacho.com), international speaker, and pilot. Jacqueline speaks to hundreds of audiences about marketing, servant leadership, finding your passion, and achieving success in business. She has addressed the United States Army, BP International, United Airlines, Allstate, and Farmers Insurance among other corporations to share her inspiration. If you or an organization you know needs as speaker, please get in touch with us at http://www.jackiecamacho.com/contact.