Gini Dietrich

Marketing for Victory with Four Different Approaches

By: Gini Dietrich | June 27, 2012 | 

When carpenters build a house, they create a plan, get the materials, and gather their tools – from saws and sandpaper to hammers and screwdrivers. The carpenters carefully sequence their activities. First they lay the foundation, then the frame. Then they install drywall, and finish with paint, carpet, and appliances.

It’s the same with your marketing program. You create your plan, gather your tools, and begin to lay the foundation. As you gather your tools, it’s important to understand how each fits into the larger marketing mix, even if it’s not your core area of expertise.

Martin Waxman talked a bit about this in What’s Wrong with Advertising? He talks about how important it is to know basic programming, search, social, and more as an advertiser.

You don’t have to be an expert in all of the tools available to us, but you do need to know enough about how they work in order to include them in your planning.

Most marketers are specialists so when it’s time to think about strategy, we tend to gravitate to the tool we know best – even if they’re not the best for the job.

Never has that been truer than it is with social media. Talk about the shiny object syndrome! A new tool comes out (cough, Google+ orPinterest, cough) and you’d think the silver bullet of marketing had been discovered.

Tools of the Trade

There are four things you should consider when selecting which tools to use for your marketing program:

  • Key performance indicators. We also know these as business goals. Is the goal of the brand to improve revenues? Shorten the sales cycle? Improve margins? Increase grant funding? Gain more volunteers? Whatever the goals are, understand them as best you can so you know how your efforts will provide the best return.
  • Corresponding marketing objectives. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Is it your job to generate leads? Increase brand awareness? Both? Figure out what success looks like so you know which tools to incorporate.
  • Stakeholders. Every organization has more than one audience – customers, employees, the community, a board, etc. Think about the most effective ways to communicate with them before you begin to decide on the tools you’re going to use.
  • Capacity. One of the mistakes we make, especially with social media, is thinking that because most of the tools are free, the cost is minimal. But you also have to consider how much time it takes to keep up with those tools. Capacity is always budget plus human resources.

These components form the foundation of your strategy and dictate the tools you decide to use.

Marketing for Victory

In Marketing in the Round, Geoff Livingston and I discuss marketing strategy as compared to military strategy. Unlike a military strategist, you do not want to attack people or treat any stakeholders like enemies…even if they’re saying negative things about you online.

But you do want to realize objectives in your campaign. You do want people to buy your product or service, and to advocate for your brand. That allows a company to “win a market” and defeat its competitors. In that sense, there is much to learn from military strategists.

One of the greatest books on military strategy is The Book of Five Rings by 17th-century Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Several of his battle tenets are relevant to your fight to communicate your brand’s message and achieve victory.

In the book, Musashi discusses four primary approaches to strategic engagement:

  • The middle (or direct)
  • Above (or top-down)
  • Below (or the groundswell)
  • The left and right sides (flanking)

Independently or sequenced, these approaches form a baseline to approaching marketing strategies. All four of the approaches work best when they are integrated into a holistic campaign, but invariably one technique is primary. The more sophisticated a program, the more likely it is to deploy multiple approaches.

Determining which approaches you use depends on your budget, the resources you have internally, the strengths of each person in your marketing round, and customer preferences.

Sometimes the choice is obvious while, at other times, it’s more difficult. If you use the four approaches described in “tools of the trade,” and understand where your team has strengths among the four, your decision will be a whole lot easier.

What do you think? How do you best choose the tools for your marketing plan?

A version of this first appeared on Sparksheet.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Probably not like that; that sounds way too structured and organized.
    Good or bad, we don’t seek the masses; we are somewhat strategic but silo-ed on our approach. For instance, I know who exactly is in my pipeline and they know me in some form or fashion. We do have an ‘ideal’ customer in mind and typically approach them more on an individual basis than trying to appeal to the many.
    Is this the most effective way; probably not but it also is much easier for me to take this approach with an established book of business over someone starting out.
    We are a $100 mil+ agency, but could we be $200 mil? Probably; we were well on our way until the economy gave us a swift kick but we are definitely on the way back up. Maybe if we use more strategery like this we can get their quicker………. 

    •  @bdorman264 when I worked for Aerodyne Controls there was no more than 50 companies in the Western third of the US that would ever need a custom designed valve or motion sensor. It was only 4 industries. I didn’t even have a catalog. I sold things that didn’t exist yet. So one sales person was able to cover all that business. As a business becomes super specialized the need for social media or many areas of marketing (vs sales) is reduced significantly.

      •  @HowieSPM  @bdorman264 We have a client that sells only to four companies. That’s it. But they introduce new products at least twice a year that their customers don’t know about. They have to find the decision makers inside those companies for those new products and the people they’re already working with doesn’t necessarily know who it is or can make the introduction. Their business is super specialized, but they’re one of our largest clients. And it’s super effective.

    •  @bdorman264 You know, there are some things you can do really well that will allow you to continue doing business the way you do it, but widen your network a bit. Why not go for that $200MM number??

      •  @ginidietrich I know, I know; $200MM is a good number too. 

  • I am blogging right now about the big picture and how you need to step back from the specialists who all push one angle of marketing, of course trumped up to sound like the end all. @dannybrown and I were discussing Facebook on his Sunday post. I said 3 of 4 US internet users spend only 11.7 mins on the site per day (but 53bil minutes a month). He felt that was huge. We are both right. Depending on perspective. But if I need to reach people shouldn’t I look at the other 16 hrs people are spending not on Facebook? Or where the other 50 million internet users and 100 million consumers are spending their time?
    If per ComScore we spend only 13 minutes each a day using Social Media how the hell can it have this incredible image in the press and people’s mind. It is easy to get narrow viewed when you need a broad view. 360 degrees of your current customers, future ones and all parts of your organization and supply chain.

    •  @HowieSPM  I hate to admit how much time I spend online. It’s more than 11.7 minutes.

  • You know carpenters only do the wood thing, right? Unless Chicago carpenters also do the whole shebang – do they do the listings and real estate selling too? Damn, I want these carpenters!!

    •  @DannyBrown You should come visit the big city. You never know what you’ll find here.

      •  @ginidietrich I did. You didn’t show me the carpenters!

        •  @DannyBrown You have to spend more than two hours with me. I’ll show you. They hang out at the river.

        •  @ginidietrich Um.. I was there THREE FRICKIN’ DAYS!!! Just ask Lisa Gerber ! 🙂

  • GrizzardComm

    Use your tools wisely. RT @lisagerber Marketing for Victory with Four Different Approaches by @ginidietrich

  • ATLMarketer

    RT @ginidietrich Comparing marketing strategy to military strategy…and how to win every time

  • geoffliving

    Hi! My name is Geoff Livingston, and I approve this message.

  • Gini, I find that the areas where many of these projects fall down is defining what the KPIs are and understanding that for the vast majority of projects there is more than one KPI. Defining what success looks like is critical and so often overlooked. It is also so important that everyone on the project has clarity and alignment on the KPIs.
    Thanks for this!

    •  @John_Murphy John, I could not agree more. We always talk about three KPIs (doing work for B2B, for profit organizations): Increased revenues, improved margins, or shortened sales cycles. If our efforts don’t come back to one of those three things, we’re not doing our jobs. 

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  • geoffliving

    @skypulsemedia Sometimes, Howie, I want to take a trip to Vermont and talk to you mano a mano. 😛

    • skypulsemedia

      @geoffliving lol i love how social media agencies fail to tell brands most people like a brand for coupons deals etc and no other reason

      • geoffliving

        @skypulsemedia It’s always a momentary thing.

        • skypulsemedia

          @geoffliving btw no vacation tweeting.

        • geoffliving

          @skypulsemedia busted.

        • skypulsemedia

          @geoffliving worse you have twitter loc enabled you should be in hawaii not dc!

        • geoffliving

          @skypulsemedia Will be chilling out on Twitter after today, promise. Thanks for being a friend and reminding me.

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