The Gongs, Drums, Banners and Flags of Strategic Communications

“The Art of War” is a classic book on military strategy written by Sun Tzu in ancient China. Its principles and lessons have been applied to various fields beyond warfare, including business, politics, and even communications and marketing. His lessons are not lost on Stratovation Group when we go to battle for our clients.

While strategic marketing and communications don’t exactly deploy the same implements of battle as warfare, the value of our trade was not underestimated by the Chinese philosopher. We are the gongs and drums and banners and flags, which, as Sun Tzu wrote, and we paraphrase, are essential because the simple spoken words of business and organization leaders inside a meeting room often do not carry far enough to engage an army of willing supporters.

Hence, as he wrote, “Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point.” Or, in the case of modern marketing and communications, those points of focus should be targeted messages informed by research.

But there are other principles we can borrow from Sun Tzu when strategically deploying the tactics and platforms of our trade.

  1. Know your audience and competition. Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of knowing your enemy and yourself to win a battle. In marketing, this translates to understanding your audience and competition. You need to know what motivates your target audience and what they are looking for in a product or service. You also need to study your competition, their strengths, and their weaknesses to differentiate your brand and provide unique value to your customers.
  2. Create a strong brand message. Sun Tzu also stressed the importance of creating a clear message that resonates with your troops. In marketing, you need to create a brand message that communicates your unique value proposition and differentiates your brand from your competition. This message needs to be clear, consistent, and memorable so that it sticks in the minds of your target audience.
  3. Adapt to changing circumstances. Sun Tzu wrote, “In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” In marketing, this means being agile and adapting to changing circumstances. If a marketing strategy or campaign is not working, you should pivot and try something new. It would help if you stayed up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies to leverage them to your advantage.
  4. Use multiple channels to reach your audience. Sun Tzu said, “All warfare is based on deception.” At Stratovation Group, ethics guide our every step, so the term “deception” isn’t something we embrace. We prefer to flip this lesson on its head by focusing on the provable benefits you offer your clients and members and using multiple channels to reach your audience and increase your brand’s visibility. You need an integrated messaging strategy that leverages different channels, such as social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, earned and paid media and content marketing. A multi-faceted approach ensures that your brand is visible to your target audience at every touchpoint clearly and consistently. We think clarity wins over deception every time.
  5. Measure and analyze your results. Sun Tzu wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” In marketing, this means measuring and analyzing your results to make informed decisions. You need to track your key performance indicators (KPIs) and use data analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not. Making data-driven decisions and optimizing your marketing strategy will yield better results in the arena of competition.

By knowing your audience and competition, creating a solid brand message, adapting to changing circumstances, using multiple channels, and measuring your results, you can develop a winning marketing strategy that resonates with your target audience and drives business growth.

At Stratovation Group, we put you on an informed path to deploying your gongs and drums and banners and flags, and in doing so, the goals you seek, whether increased sales, memberships or engagement, will rally to your camp.