Modern marketing can really feel like a battle – you’re fighting to win the attention of potential customers, often against multiple enemies, or competitors. So, you need to think like an army commander!
There are key elements to preparing for any battle, and each can be linked to the marketing process.
Know your enemy – do your market research
An army commander will gather intelligence on the enemy, through covert operations and observation of the enemy’s movements. He will try and ascertain the size of the threat, know their troupe numbers and fire-power, and understand their strategy. He will measure and evaluate – and consider how his own forces match up. This is exactly what you need to do with your market research. Make a few calls to competitors to see how they respond to an enquiry – see if they will send you a brochure, read their website, follow their social media channels, stalk them! Then, compare your marketing to theirs – are you on an equal footing? Is there anything they do better than you that you might need to improve on before going head-to-head? The more information you have about what you’re up against, the greater your chance of success.
Get your strategy in place
Once the intelligence is gathered, a commander will then plan his strategy according to the findings. This isn’t about replicating the enemy’s activity, but thinking of an appropriate response. How best can you use your own arsenal? You want to play to your strengths and take advantage of the enemy’s weaknesses. Where are you going to invest greater resources? A planned attack will always beat the scattergun approach, so make sure you plan how, where and when you will deploy your troops.
An army commander will strategically place his infantry and tanks; he’ll decide on the best time to send in the bombers; he’ll consider whether ships with rocket launchers are required. In marketing, your infantry might be your website, seo and blogs, your tanks – your social media channels, your bombers are your email or postal campaigns etc.
In the same way that an army commander won’t rely solely on his infantry – you can’t rely solely on your website to bring you custom. It’s about using all the weapons at your disposal in a strategic way.
Prepare your arsenal – branding / marketing materials
Once the strategy is in place, you need to make sure you have enough fire-power and ammunition. In marketing, this means refining your branding and marketing message, and preparing all the materials you need to deliver your message effectively. Your marketing materials and content are your bombs and bullets – and your underlying strategy should ensure they hit their target.
Are you using the latest weaponry? In the same way that the army are constantly upgrading their kit and use the latest technology to their advantage – you need to stay abreast of the latest marketing trends.
Defend your territory – reactive marketing
A certain amount of battle strategy will be reactive – responding to enemy activity. If you know troops are being deployed to a particular area, you send your own troops to defend the territory. So, with marketing, if you know your competitors are prolific on Twitter, or have a particularly effective radio or TV ad campaign – you might want to work it into your strategy to ensure you have an equal presence.
Stay one step ahead – proactive marketing
To win a battle, however, you need to try and stay one step ahead. Think about what the enemy isn’t doing – are they missing a trick? Sometimes, you need to think outside the box. Doing something different could be the key to success, catching your enemy off-guard and gaining you new ground.
Evaluate and amend – measure and adjust your marketing
A good commander knows that any battle strategy has to be flexible. If something’s not working, you don’t keep throwing resources at it relentlessly! Instead, you learn from mistakes and adapt your strategy as you go along. Marketing is no different. If you’ve spent thousands on radio advertising but received no leads from it, you either need to change the advert, or re-allocate those funds to an alternative activity.
Remember, you don’t need to do this alone! An army commander will employ specialist advisors and use the expertise of the team around him. In the same way, you can employ the help of marketing consultants or business advisors to guide and inform you.