20 Mar 2014

The Art of War: the 3 fundamental principles that underlie the best marketing campaigns

Good marketing managers have much in common with good generals. To be truly successful, a marketing strategy must be planned like a military campaign – with precise knowledge of who, where and how to attack. 

Good marketing managers have much in common with good generals. To be truly successful, a marketing strategy must be planned like a military campaign – with precise knowledge of who, where and how to attack. Aiming blindly at your target will get you nowhere, having as much success as throwing mud at a wall and hoping enough of it will stick. But how can you avoid the basic mistakes that many companies make? Three fundamental principles underlie good marketing practice:

1. The principle of market segmentation and customer value identifies customer groups with characteristics that are significant for marketing strategy. Don’t dissipate your energy and resources – determine who your main customers are, and find out as much as possible about them. In retail, for example, knowing their average age, income levels and lifestyle will help you refine your strategy. Then decide how important different customer groups are to your business. Which group is most valuable? Which customers are hardly worth having? You could transform your results by attracting the customers you want and ignoring those you don’t.

2. The principle of differential advantage – your cutting edge – is the preference of target customers for one firm’s offer relative to competitors. For example, BMW markets to people who prefer BMWs, and people who shop at Waitrose are willing to pay more than they would do at Asda. Differentiating yourself from the competition in terms of product, price, and service and clearly communicating what your business stands for will help your target customers see themselves in your brand, and identify you as the one they want.

3. The principle of concentration and positioning strategy dictates how you will compete. Your main customers may be retired people with large disposable incomes, or executives in their 30s and 40s with growing families and high expectations. These two groups require very different marketing propositions. Focus on your most valuable customers and get your communications right. People from other market sectors may buy from you, but don’t fritter your time and resources trying to say something to everyone or you’ll end up having nothing to say to anyone.

These three principles, as any military man will tell you, are the very art of War. Companies with a strategy that embodies these will get away with mistakes that would sink other businesses.

Agree? Disagree? Want help with your marketing? Comment below, follow us on LinkedIn tweet @MRAMarketing or email social@mra-marketing.com.

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