Marketing Leadership – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 7

So far in this series we’ve talked about what marketing strategies and tactics you can implement to impact your external environment. This post is about how the internal workings of your business and the way you organise and lead it, impacts how effective your marketing is. So in this post I want to discuss the role of leadership in marketing effectiveness.

Here’s why: there is no silver bullet in marketing, no hard and fast rules or proven methodologies that can guarantee success across the board. This means effective marketing often involves risk taking, tenacity, confidence and commitment, all important leadership qualities.

There will be times of intense pressure when you may be the one that has to make quick marketing decisions, step out on a hunch, and make the decision to spend limited resources on marketing initiatives based largely on faith.

There may be times when you will have to adopt the role of marketing leader and take responsibility for rallying your supporters around an idea, gain the attention of potential customers and convince them to become actual customers.

So if and when you find yourself in the position of marketing leader, here are a few tips to guide you:

1.   Get your house in order

One commentator on the chapter entitled ‘manoeuvring’ in the art of warfare states;

“As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all the domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe.”

You cannot have victory outside if it doesn’t first exist inside your business. Regardless of personal opinion everyone involved in helping you implement your marketing should be rowing in the same direction and committed to the goals set forth.

I’ve been in the position of having to implement marketing campaigns that I didn’t truly believe in and also having to motivate others to get on board with a marketing initiative that they weren’t overly keen on. In both positions I’ve seen the impact of unity; a united team can turn a bad idea into a positive campaign, as a result of strong execution and commitment. A disunited team can turn a great idea into a shambles, due to lack of commitment and poor execution.

My point is this, not everyone will like or even believe in your ideas but if you are going to succeed in your marketing endeavours you will need a team that is supportive and committed to the agenda that’s laid out.

Sun Tzu puts it this way: Manoeuvring with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

2.   Care about people

 In war, three quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.” – Napoleon.

Nobody ever accomplished anything without the help of others.

So quite simply, value the people that support you.

3.   Acquire experience before you go to battle

Sun Tzu said: We are not fit to lead an army unless we are familiar with the face of the country, its mountains and forests, it pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.

One aspect of a leader’s role is to act as a guide to those that follow and to prepare them for what may lie ahead. If you have no experience of the type of situations, problems and conditions they’re likely to face you’re simply ill-equipped to lead them.

In past posts I’ve spoken about knowing your industry, market and customers, and yes, these things are included in this point. But it’s also about more than that; it’s about ‘sound judgement’ the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions. This cannot be taught or obtained by reading books or studying, it comes with time and experience.

This type of knowledge is called ‘tacit knowledge’ and it’s defined as follows:

Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. It involves learning and skill, but not in a way that can be written down. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we often do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge possessed only by an individual and difficult to communicate to others via words and symbols. Tacit knowledge has been described as “know-how” – as opposed to “know-what” (facts) Source.

Here’s an example from Wikipedia:

 ‘‘We know a person’s face, and can recognise it among a thousand, indeed a million. Yet we usually cannot tell how we recognise a face we know, so most of this cannot be put into words.’’. When you see a face you are not conscious about your knowledge of the individual features (eye, nose, mouth), but you see and recognize the face as a whole.

It is this type of knowledge that is often instrumental in pulling off great victories in the midst of difficult situations.

My point is this; put in the work and take the time to really become proficient in your field before launching into the deep, hone your gifts and talents so you are able to guide your ship with competence, excellence and confidence.

After all, genuine credibility and expertise is the best marketing tool. So take the time required to prepare for the war and position yourself to win.

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