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  • Writer's pictureTGW

The Art Of War in Marketing

In our previous post about when to re-visit your marketing strategy, I quoted 孫子 Sun Zi (Sun Tzu for those who prefer the Wade Giles translation). Since the posting of that article, Russia has taken action against Ukraine. It's got me thinking more about the 'Art Of War' and felt that it might be a good idea to dive into some elements from this book that pertain to marketing.

While it is certainly true that, "The greatest victory is that which requires no battle", the marketplace in and of itself is a battleground. Furthering this analogy, we are, unfortunately, navigating through the fog of war as well. No one has all the answers and the landscape is ever-changing. But there are some basic tenets that are applicable to your marketing efforts.

Understand Your Industry And Your Competitors

How well do you know your industry and your competitors? How well do you know yourself and your business?

知己知彼,百戰不貽;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼不知己,每戰必敗 (If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles).

Take a look at your marketing efforts and of the marketing efforts of your competition. How does it compare? What is the messaging that you're trying to convey versus what they are saying? What is the 'norm' for the industry? Take a trip down the rabbit hole to get a better sense to see if your messaging sings above the rest.

Look For Your Right Moment

While there is always a strategy that can be implemented, not all strategies are appropriate for all situations.

不可勝者,守也;可勝者,攻也 (Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive)

Especially for small businesses, there are times to go on the offensive, and there are times that you should dial it back some. If for example, you know that the bulk of your business happens around Christmastime, when do you think you should do the bulk of your promoting and marketing? If you don't have time/funds for every single social media platform out there, you might want to focus on the 1 or 2 platforms that your audience hangs out on. That's not to say however, that you should neglect the other platforms completely.

Permutations and Combinations

Here's looking at you OAC Finite Math (IYKYK.... lol... For Ontarians of a certain age).

戰勢不過奇正,奇正之變,不可勝窮也 (In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.)

Sure, there are lots of tactics and strategies that can be applied. But it's in the various permutations and combinations that you can create endless and brilliant marketing campaigns. It's in knowing when to apply which, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box once in a while. Or the way I like to look at it, stop thinking about the box. There is no box, just what is appropriate for your brand at that moment.

While the 'Art Of War' talks about, well... war; the lessons within are applicable to so many facets of our lives. Understanding the needs of your clients, knowing your own limitations, understanding when to go on the offensive, and how to manage your team. Is there a lesson from this historic tome that you've applied to your business? We'd love to know!


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