Why Indiana Jones-Style Marketing Gets the Drop on the “Sword Guy” Every Time

Raiders of the Lost Ark movie poster All too often, we’re just too busy…and we confuse activity with productivity.

I’m guilty of this. I know doctors and hospital executives who admit to the problem. Likely, you can also relate. Non-stop multi-tasking blurs our perception of what’s important and what’s actually getting done. And that’s the moment when we need Indiana Jones.

I like to tell the story about the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when archeologist-hero Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is running full speed through a hot desert village dodging danger at every turn. Suddenly, the crowd parts and a scimitar-wielding villain stops Indy in his tracks. It’s a really big bad guy flamboyantly waving a really big sword.

But instead of being drawn into the losing side of a swordfight, Jones drops the nasty dude with a single pistol shot. In less than 30-seconds, the clip provides us with an important business and marketing lesson.

The point is to focus on what’s important, what works and what’s the most productive solution. In this analogy, you want your marketing effort to be as coolly efficient as “Indiana Jones,” and not be wildly slicing at the wind like the sword guy.

I use often use this story with our team and we teach it in our presentations and marketing seminars. The classic scene and the object lesson resonate with our audiences. It reminds all of us that being “busy-busy-busy” with many marketing activities demands a priority for the few things that actually result in revenue.

Train yourself—and share this with your team—that it’s not the action, but the need for traction. To conserve time and effort, identify what produces actual results and double down on what works best. Fit the rest of your planned activities into whatever budget and time remain (if any).

But wait. There’s more…

By the way, there’s a lesser-known, but true, back-story that makes the same point…in reality, not film fantasy. It seems that on the day of filming for this scene, Harrison Ford and many members of the production crew were sick with dysentery.

Ford, drained of energy, convinced director Steven Spielberg to change the script in favor of an inspired bit of improv. Instead of three days of filming yet-another fight scene, Ford proposed that his character simply shoot the knife guy.

Spielberg bought idea and the result is a truly classic movie moment. In an odd twist of fate, the original scene would probably never have received the memorability.

Just for fun, here’s that now-famous Raiders clip from 1981. Enjoy, and think of this brief sequence as a cinematic reminder of the 80-20 Rule in action…80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your marketing efforts.

Indiana Jones movie scene


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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