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3 Lessons from Sun Tzu for Your Technology

The marketing battlefield is changing faster today than ever before and at times it seems that pace is accelerating. From Facebook to LinkedIn, Google to Bing, YouTube to Vimeo and mobile responsive to mobile apps, the weapons that we use to attract the attention of our consumers are getting more complicated every time we turn around. Our customers are bombarded daily from every side with shady tactics that are competing for their scarce attention. Never before has it been so important to create a strategy for our web and mobile properties that is worthy of our brands and worthy of building 100 year relationships with each and every customer.

Winning the attention war in today’s market is about earning brand advocacy from your customers by inspiring them at every interaction point. I’m a huge fan of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” written over 2,000 years ago and have put a little spin on three of his core strategies to help us all succeed in our online marketing battles.

First Lesson: “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you will not be imperiled in 100 battles.”

To me this lesson simply means that you need to do your research. Understand your market, what you are good at and know your “Why”. The better you understand your competitions approach to the market and how you differentiate, the better you can determine where to invest to maximize on your differentiators and to set yourself apart from the rest of the market. Analyze, interpret, experiment and repeat. Establish a vision for the experiences that you create for your customers that you can rally behind.

Second Lesson: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise you hear before defeat.”

Once you can articulate your vision, you need a strategy to help you get there. This quote says it so well that it hardly needs explaining. A strategy is essential to success, but it is much more powerful with a tactical roadmap to support it and you need both to be successful. The tactics that you take to market for your online properties need to be correlated with and guided by a sound strategy that the entire organization is aligned around. It is the combination of strategy and organized tactics that creates a powerful advantage.

Third Lesson: “Quickness is the essence of war.”

Speed to market is a defining success factors online. You need to be able to turn on a dime with your technology, thus you need an ongoing strategy that makes sure your web and mobile content is not stale or timely. An agile strategy for content and feature development that allows you to incorporate your daily learnings into the improvement of your online platforms is critical. It will allow you to listen to your customers, study usage patterns and continuously improve their online experience with your brand.

A bonus lesson: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Whoever is truly focused on solving their customer’s problems in a way that will earn brand advocacy will ultimately win the war online. The best part is that they will not have to compete on price.

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