Are you in a marketing war?Article added by Ernest Falkner III on February 11, 2011
Ernest Falkner III

Ernest Falkner III

Birmingham, AL

Joined: September 20, 2010

It would seem that we are stating the obvious, but today we can’t take anything for granted. We can look at various sectors of our government, as well as industrial, social and religious organizations, and find that many of these are not aware or are not acknowledging that they are in a war for their very existence.

In "Marketing Warfare," marketing experts Al Ries and Jack Trout argue that marketing is war, and that the marketing concept’s customer-oriented philosophy is inadequate. Rather, firms would do better by becoming competitor-oriented. If the key to success was simply to introduce products closest to those desired by customers, then the market leader would always be the firm that performed the best market research. Clearly, much more is required.

There is much marketers can learn from military strategy. Ries and Trout tell the story of several famous battles in history that illustrate lessons of warfare. These battles range from Marathon in 490 B.C., when the Greeks used the phalanx to defeat the more numerous Persian invaders, to the Normandy invasion of WWII.

The lessons from these famous battles illustrate strategies for planning, maneuvering and overpowering the opposing side. These principles are relevant not only to warfare, but also to marketing.

Considering this concept; there are valuable lessons, tactics and decisions that can help business owners weather the economic battlefield they are now facing.

What do many great leaders do when they realize they are going to war, or are already in one? First, they must decide between fight or flight. If they fight, they have to make some hard decisions. Here are just a few strategic considerations and determinations:
  • Who will be the leader or leaders?
  • Who is the enemy or target? Have you correctly identified who, what and where they are?
  • Before you make the commitment, be sure you have counted the cost.
  • Will you go it alone or build a team or army?
  • Distinguish whether the objective is a game or a war. One is for sport; the other is for keeps.
  • Consider if you will seek guidance and/or help.
  • Establish written strategic plans (including the SWOT exam.) The emphasis here is “strategic [offense-defense],” with the goal to win.
  • Responsibilities-Accountabilities-Actions-Contingencies.
Ries and Trout believe in having relatively few people involved in the strategic process. They believe the organization needs a strong marketing "general” to formulate the strategy from the tactical realities. An effective marketing general should have the following characteristics:
  • To adjust the strategy to the situation
  • To make a decision and stand by it
  • Boldness to act without hesitation when the time is right
  • Know the facts, in order to formulate strategy from the ground up
  • Know the rules, internalizing them so they can’t be forgotten
Is it better to know you are in a war, and plan to win, or to take an “a-kicking” and never realize you were ever in one?
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