Revisiting Sun Tzu’s – THE ART OF WAR to compile 10 Digital Marketing Lessons


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on November 10, 2016

Imagine the motivation of a famished army, combating on its last legs in the midst of fire and ashes, hollering vengeful battle cries that sends shivers down the spines of their enemies, a couple of millenniums ago (that’s when this book was written).

Sun Tzu’s classic has not only inspired dynasties, military generals, strategists, tacticians, business leaders, politicians, sports persons and managers (fighting boardroom battles everyday)  across the globe, but has also lent them inspiration to surge ahead despite any circumstances.

Here’s a collection of 10 invaluable gems from The Art of War, from a Digital marketing standpoint-:

1) When Able, Feign Inability …

“ The Way of War is A way of deception
When Able,
Feign Inability,

When Deploying troops
Appear Not to be. ”

Inference : In digital marketing, the best way to market is by not appearing to market at all. Engage with your audience in the most natural manner. When you seem most ordinary, should be the time when you really engage in subtle marketing techniques.

2) If Victory is slow, Men tire, Morale sags

“ In War
Victory should be Swift.
If Victory is slow,
Men tire, Morale sags,
Sieges exhaust strength;
Protracted campaigns strain the public treasury.”


Image Credit : https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardofengland/6788829651

Inference :In digital marketing targets must be achieved in a definite time frame. Because morale, like sand, will slip out of your hands unless you achieve your goal in time. Take quantifiable steps in the beginning, like email marketing campaigns, vigorous online advertising and PPC campaigns, assess the results.

Be quick in diversifying. Save protracted techniques for later use; your procrastinations will only make your competitors stronger.

3) The highest form of warfare Is to attack Strategy itself

“ Ultimate Excellence lies
Not in winning every battle
But in defeating the enemy
Without ever fighting.
The highest form of warfare
Is to attack
Strategy itself  ”

Inference :  Sometimes just the trailer of a movie can sell out tickets for the entire show.  Likewise, on a Digital marketing turf start with giving your potential clients a flavor of what you can do for them. If you’re convincing enough, half the battle is won. Aggressive branding techniques via social media advertising and display advertising will come in handy. When they arrive at your site, give them something free, like an ebook/how-to guide, et.al.

4) Five essentials for Victory

“Know when to fight
And when not to fight;
Understand how to deploy
Large and small Numbers;

Have officers and men who share a single will;
Be ready for the unexpected

Have a capable general,
Unhampered by his sovereign.”

Image Credit  https://www.flickr.com/photos/thecosmopolitan/

Inference : Apart from what—when, when not to and how, should be the questions on your mind while crafting a strategy. Choose your target audience wisely. Your whole team should be on the same page with you. A campaign can hit the bull’s eye or can turn into an eyesore, be ready for surprises. As a leader, you’re expected to use your diligence. Cut your teammates and your strategies some slack at times. Breaks can make it blossom!

5) Difference between the victorious and the defeated army…

“ The victorious army
Is victorious first
And seeks battle later;
The defeated army
Does battle first
And seeks victory later. ”

Inference :  To be in winners shoes, do what winners do. Devise a foolproof digital strategy first (work out all the permutations and combinations), so there are no chances of faltering. Be ready with your arsenal of Online Marketing Campaigns, Online Advertising, PPC, Display Advertising Services, Social Media Advertising, Email Marketing, Conversion. Success is a mindset, achieve it before going into the battle. It helps to foresee.

6) The warrior skilled in Indirect warfare is Infinite…

In the 5th chapter ‘Potential Energy’, Master Sun says

“ The warrior skilled In indirect warfare
Is infinite As Heaven and Earth
Inexhaustible As river and sea,
He ends and begins again Like Sun and Moon,
Dies and is born again
Like the Four Seasons ”

Inference :  Digital marketing and branding exercises, pursued indirectly (not so blatantly) and at irregular intervals by deploying diverse tactics is the best way to go about it. For instance, concentrating on Paid Ads, followed by a lull, then a bombardment of highly targeted Email marketing campaign can take your consumers by surprise.
It’s like a Guerrilla warfare—your power and strength will remain infinite, if you concentrate on the diversity w.r.t time and techniques.

7) Skillfully deployed soldiers are like round boulders Rolling down A mighty mountain… 


“ The Skillful Warrior

Exploits The potential energy;
He does not hold his men Responsible

He deploys his men To their best
But Relies on The potential energy.

He sends his men into battle like a man Rolling logs or boulders.
Skillfully deployed soldiers are like round boulders
Rolling down A mighty mountain ” 

Inference: More than the strategy, it’s the timing and positioning that determines your success. In digital marketing, unleashing your efforts at the opportune moment from a strategic standpoint can bring you the right gains.

For instance, if your firm’s already an established brand. To gain further lead over your competitors you may become a thought leader in your field, especially if you’re running a professional practice, selling a pioneering product et.al. It could be done with effective Content marketing, Infographics, etc.

8) There are roads not to take. There are armies Not to attack…

“ There are-
Roads Not to Take
Armies, Not to attack
Towns Not to besiege
Terrains Not to contest
Orders Not to obey ”

Inference: Not every strategy or tactic is meant for you. It might serve your competitors beautifully, but be futile for you.
Someone might need PPC, more than content marketing, since their biggest concern is to get more and more leads. Different strokes for different folks!
In fact, indulging in ineffective activities will not only make you squander your resources, but risk your service or product’s future.

9) In killing an individual, It’s necessary to know him beforehand…

“ In striking an army,
In attacking a city,
In killing an individual
It is necessary to know beforehand
The names of the general,
And of his attendants,
His aides,
His doorkeepers,
His bodyguards.
Our spies must be instructed
To discover all of these
In detail. ”

Inference :  Before you set out to unleash your ultimate marketing missile, it’s best to get acquainted with all its elements (pros and cons) so you’re able to predict your audiences’ response. What would happen if you strike the bulls eye, what would happen if you don’t. You should be aware of every little detail. In digital marketing if you’re considering remarketing campaigns, you should be as accurate as possible in predicting how your audience will respond.

 

10) Attack according to the soldier’s spirit

“ The soldier’s spirit
Is keenest In the morning;
By noon It has dulled;
By evening He has begun To think of home

The skillful Warrior
Avoids the keen spirit,
Attacks the dull
And the homesick;
This is Mastery of spirit ”

Inference : Have a go at your target when he’s most vulnerable, not when he’s most alert and strong, otherwise you’ll end up wasting your resources. Your natural proximity to your target would matter highly. It will allow you time to strike with precision.

For example, if you’re concentrating on social media marketing and the target appears too tough to achieve, no need to go at it hammer and tongs. Wait for the right time.

Wrapping Up

Whether it’s a marketing or digital marketing strategy, a clear understanding between; what’s achievable, what’s not; what’s worth going for, what not; what’s near, what’s far; is indispensable for charting out a victory path.

In the past, strategies have been essential for sieges, now they’re needed for clutching projects and leading in the market. If you’ve understood the above principles, it’s time to implement them. Because just as war, in marketing too you have to offer baits to lure the consumer.

army

This entry was posted in Internet Marketing.
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