As I spend a lot of time on planes, I have plenty of quiet time to read. I just knocked the dust off (again) a classic from Sergio Zyman, former Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Coca-Cola. Zyman is the guy who will be forever known as the New Coke architect (good or bad, usually bad). His book The End of Marketing As We Know It is an excellent read for any marketing or general business enthusiast.
Unconventional business strategies can ignite growth. Developing a culture that promotes and rewards creativity and innovation is critical in today’s turbulent global business environment. Moving faster than your competitors and developing creative strategies and products will force competitors to continuously react. As you continually surprise and disrupt the market, your organization will drive forward while competitors remain flat-footed. Stop relying on outdated and routine strategies. Reignite your organization with unconventional methodologies. Embrace discomfort and ambiguity. Connect disparate pieces of information. Rethink how you think.
When people talk about Genghis Khan and the Mongols, the discussion typically focuses on the Mongols reputation as a ragtag band of nomadic warriors raping and pillaging across Asia and Europe. The reputation of the Mongols as ferocious killers have spurred countless stories of terror and destruction. Unfortunately, most of these stories were fiction. Interestingly, the Mongols were an amazing propaganda machine and created most of these false narratives to create fear and terror to ensure enemies surrendered before a fight was needed.
Beyond the Mongols legendary success as fearsome warriors, they were also amazing economic innovators. Genghis Khan was the masterful strategist and tactician, who created the Mongol empire. Khubilai Khan, his grandson, was the society builder. Khubilai Khan’s innovations have such direct influence on modern society it is amazing that it happened almost 1,000 years ago.
Most of us have heard about the book The Art of War – or maybe it’s even on your bookshelf. Chinese General Sun Tzu is the reported author. I say reported because everything about him is not clearly identified in history – there is a lot of ambiguity of who he was – no one knows for sure who wrote the book, or who Sun Tzu really was. But for simplicity, Sun Tzu was a Chinese general who lived around 400 BC. His book has been used by military and business leaders for decades. The book should be an essential part of any business professional’s library.
When resources are scarce, the time to get creative and leverage non-traditional marketing strategies should excite marketing leaders and teams. The opportunity to do more with less and demonstrate to senior leaders the effectiveness of marketing, will lead to increased resources. Asymmetric marketing is an excellent method to “do more with less” and leverage speed and surprise to outmaneuver competitors, excite customers, and demonstrate the effectiveness of “guerilla marketing”.
Is your organization on auto-pilot? Does your company do the same thing year after year? Does your company announce new products at the same time, attend the same trade shows, use the same marketing tactics, engage with customers the same way you did in 1998, or use the same software that you bought from the 1990s? If your answer is yes to these questions, you need to wake up!
Ants do it. Bees do it. Wolves do it. Even German U-boats in WWII did it. Swarming. Swarming is a great tactic to overwhelm competitors. The use of small units which simultaneously attack competitors from multiple directions is at the heart of swarming. There has been long history of swarming within various military campaigns. However, swarming can be a highly impactful sales and marketing strategy to dominate markets.
Maneuver warfare works on the premise of using deception and ambiguity to disorient your opponent with surprise and shock. This methodology works very well for small forces competing against larger forces. The modern-day theorist, Col. John Boyd spearheaded this theory which was eventually adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps as the modern method for operations. Maneuver Warfare techniques can also be applied within business, especially for product launch planning.
Combined arms is a methodology used within the military to integrate different, multiple units/operations to synergistically work together to create a greater force to overwhelm an opponent. This same strategy can be very effective within a sales and marketing organization. The ability to link, leverage, and compliment multiple groups can have a positive effect on campaigns.