Scout – Blitz – Siege

The military approach to planning your marketing

Surprising though it may seem, business owners and marketers may be able to learn a thing or two from the military when it comes to business development campaigns.

While the parallels may not at first seem obvious, RCR believes there are some very close analogies to be drawn between military and marketing campaign strategies.  You only have to look at the language of marketing to see that the imagery is widespread (‘shotgun vs. rifle marketing’, ‘blanket coverage’ and ‘campaign’ itself are but a few examples).  Here we consider how insights from just three aspects of simplified military strategy can help boost a marketing campaign.

At RCR, we use a three phase Scout – Blitz – SiegeTM methodology to help our clients to marshal their resources and increase the effectiveness of their marketing.  Each is as important as the other and our experience shows that investing in all three stages will reap the most effective results, whether your objective is a new product launch, penetrating a new market sector or getting the most interesting work from existing clients.

Scout-Blitz-Siege

Scouting about

The first important lesson from the military experience is: invest time in planning.  Most of us will have experienced pressure from our peers, senior managers or from external circumstances (such as competitor behaviour) to implement ad hoc, ill-thought-out marketing activity.  While a rapid tactical response is sometimes unavoidable, planning – the Scout phase – will pay off in the long run because it allows you to achieve the following:

  • Clarify your objectives
  • Work out what you want to achieve, in what time frame, with what budget and with what desired results.  Consider how your campaign objective supports your overall corporate proposition and what effect it may have on other business development activity.
  • Gather intelligence
  • Profile your target markets and understand their buying behaviour; identify your competitors and assess their strengths and weaknesses; formulate and test your proposition and adapt it to meet market needs.
  • Identify your allies
  • Build alliances with marketing partners or key suppliers.  Work out whom you’ll need to influence to ensure success, such as key journalists, analysts or industry commentators.
  • Accumulate ammunition
  • Identify what resources you need for your campaign – this may involve developing new collateral, writing press releases or articles, building mailing lists, or creating intellectual capital such as original research.  Make sure these are all ready for when you decide to move into the Blitz phase.

Depending on the nature of your campaign, the Scout phase may take anywhere between three months and a year.  It’s low visibility activity from the perspective of non-marketers in your organisation but investing time here will ensure you achieve stunning results when you go into action.

Action stations!

The Blitz phase is what the rest of your organisation probably perceives to be ‘marketing’: lots of sound and the fury of battle.  Your objective here is to raise awareness, create reputation, and generate contacts and leads.   Sales may happen at this stage but they aren’t your main objective.  Finding and making initial contact with all prospects is the real goal.

The key to a successful Blitz is integration and coordination and this is where you’ll see your Scout phase pay off.  Key considerations include:

  • Coordinate your tactics
  • Make sure your marketing tactics (whether it’s PR, article writing, social media, direct marketing or CRM) work in harmony not opposition, in terms of messaging and proposition.  The cumulative effect will be much greater than the sum of their parts.  Moreover, doing so will enable you to leverage your expensively produced marketing material time and again.
  • Get your timing right
  • Plan your implementation to best effect, both in terms of using internal resource and with regard to external events.
  • Get the troops on board
  • Think hard about how to make sure non-marketers understand the campaign objectives and get the whole firm behind you.  This takes more time and effort than is often realised, yet is one of the main keys to success.

Dig in for the duration

There’s a natural tendency after all the excitement of the Blitz to heave a sigh of relief that it all went so well and move on the next campaign.  But if you really want to reap results, it pays to invest in a long-term Siege.  At this stage the level of activity will be lower and a lot less high profile, but your objective is to capitalise upon the awareness, contacts and leads generated by your Blitz to ensure that they convert into revenue.

Typical Siege activities include:

  • Maintaining contact
  • Leads you generate may not turn into immediate sales but it pays to keep in touch and keep your firm or brand profile high.  This is where you can use newsletters, email communication, social media or corporate entertainment to good effect and to support face-to-face business development activities.
  • Keeping tabs on the situation
  • It really should be simple but 90% of the time it isn’t.  Make sure your database is set up to handle contact information, that you can record what communication you’ve had with clients and contacts, and that you can easily segment your contact list to identify your best leads and most profitable clients.
  • Debriefing
  • Effective analysis of the success of your campaign is vital to your forward planning.  If you’ve built your success measurement indicators in from the start, this should be easy to do.

Phasing campaigns and planning ahead

Phased Scout-Blitz-Siege campaigns

The final point to bear in mind is that wars aren’t necessarily won with a single campaign.  As the chart above shows, most organisations will probably be running a series of staggered campaigns designed to achieve a variety of marketing objectives within the overall strategy, while making effective use of resources.  And if this all seems a little daunting, just keep the spoils of victory in your mental sights!


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