The next new thing? Unrestricted marketing warfare! Guerilla marketing is dead. Long live unrestricted marketing warfare!
Within the marketing industry, many references have been made to Carl Von Clausewitz
and his famous book, “On War.” “The Art of War,” by the great Chinese theorist Sun Tzu, is referred to with similar frequency. Both books have informed modern principles of marketing.
Some of these principles have survived the test of time and are still used today. One enduring concept is guerilla marketing, which is based on guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is characterized by a series of hit-and-run attacks and overt use of multiple tactics that perhaps, on first look, seem to be independent and uncoordinated.
Traditionally, small forces used these tactics against larger forces. Classic examples of guerilla warfare used against American forces include the Vietcong and jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that rely on time, energy and imagination, rather than on a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are potentially interactive and target consumers in unexpected places. Unfortunately, such marketing campaigns often rely on methods that are in poor taste or that include littering or graffiti.
Businesses or causes using guerrilla marketing should consider whether this is the way they want their cause viewed. Do you remember the Boston ATHF Black Box campaign of 2007? If not, Google “Boston ATHF Bomb Scare.”
The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz and turn viral. The term “guerilla marketing” was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book by the same name and has since entered popular vocabulary and marketing textbooks.
Guerrilla marketing involves unusual approaches—such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, or any other unconventional marketing techniques—intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. More innovative approaches to guerrilla marketing now utilize cutting-edge mobile digital technologies to engage the consumer and create a memorable brand experience. That is the old way.
I found the new way while browsing the Internet. The report (“Unrestricted Warfare”
) is from China and written by Colonel Qiao Liang and Colonel Wang Xiangsui, both from the Chinese Liberation Army. The premise is simple.
Written in 1999, the concept deals with how a technologically limited nation and army such as China’s could defeat a technologically advanced nation like the United States. Force and the use of technology would not work, but a detailed look at the various strata that make up the United States and an unrestricted attack on those strata would.
I am far from being a military expert, but the 228 pages of this report provided interesting reading. I realized that this method could be adapted to marketing. With that adaptation, guerilla marketing and a few other types of marketing are, well, as they say, toast.
The description of guerrilla marketing (GM) as presented above is a fine strategy, but it’s dated. Yes, it’s inventive, structurally sound, and has proven successful; but in my eyes, it’s over for GM. Mob and crowd sourcing has become the modern equivalent of GM.
I understand that the latest techniques of GM continue to evolve using digital and emerging technologies, but I don’t think this change of tactics will help. Today, the consumer or B2B customer needs to be overwhelmed by marketing in a multichannel attack that leaves little to the imagination except that a sale has been made, or engagement of the customer has been measured.
If you read the 228-page report you will see that the plan is to defeat the United States by destroying the basis of our lifestyle—the financial sector, the Internet, energy, food and the list goes on. Even a political or terrorist attack is considered.
With unrestricted marketing warfare, the same strategy needs to be in place and introduced slowly and in measured doses. The resistance of the consumer needs to be challenged, weakened and, finally, destroyed or compromised.
The marketer needs to look at the market as not the United States, but rather the Nation of Consumption and what controls that consumption. That, to me, is the brain. These attacks with marketing weapons outlined in part below will provide the momentum to achieve total victory and sell, sell, sell. Of course, buy, buy, buy is needed as well.
Look at the marketing weapons that can be used to overwhelm the consumer and control their purchasing power. Start with print—the faithful, heavy artillery of marketing. Next, add some stealth, such as emerging technologies—QR codes, SMS, and mobile sites—all linked to the Internet via personalized microsites, which survey and track each hit and open rate, qualified or not. Add e-mails, augmented reality, tablets, apps, interactive protocols, relevance and integration of not just the message, but the entire target.
Can a family-based database be provided to marketers that offers complete intelligence on the needs of the entire family rather than on an individual family members?
Full family intel (FFI) can and will provide the base for secure marketing operations since any message mapping will be complete. Forget about the parents. Can other family members, no matter who they are, influence the influencers? Perhaps using online options for targeted messaging to a family would be more powerful than to an individual.
As in the plan developed by the two Chinese colonels, unrestricted marketing warfare cultivates dissent from within the family (nation) unit. Questions and influence regarding the buying decision cycle, extended or exaggerated needs, and sales materials are taken to a new height. The next thing you know, you have massive consumer spending on a scale never seen before.
Unrestricted marketing warfare links personal needs—including illness, family troubles, financial states, and other once wholly private information—into a message map or logic trail that would undermine the buying cycle of even the strongest, most cohesive American family.
Not to fault any firm, but the amount of data available on the Internet when linked with an aggressive marketing program can lead to massive leaps in the perception and buying power of the consumer and B2B customer base. The question is which media, which tactics, and when?
Even the chapter titles in the document mentioned above have marketing applications.
- “Chapter One: The Weapons Revolution Which Invariably Comes First” can be easily modified by substituting “marketing tools” in place of “weapons.”
- “Chapter Five: The New Methodology of War Games”—substitute “marketing plans” for “war games,” and you have a nice alternative to war: a marketing war.
- “Chapter Seven: Ten Thousand Methods Combined as One: Combinations that Transcend Boundaries”—no change needed here; that is marketing.
A key aspect of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules. Nothing is forbidden. We in marketing can easily accept that in order to make a sale. Many think marketing has little or no rules.
Perhaps criminal prosecution will limit how many new rules we have or need. But the internal destruction of the consumption nation would weaken and soften this backlash or concern. When you look at the phone tapping scandal in the UK (Is there one hiding in the media weeds of the United States?), you can understand that there may not have been a book of rules concerning how to sell newspapers. In the end, getting the story, increasing circulation and selling ad space justified the means. The rule is that there are no rules.
We marketers can’t go that far. But in today’s competitive world, what stops are in place? Better still, who will regulate this new marketing weapon? Will we need to establish a Geneva Convention for marketing?
In the end, I am a strong advocate for media convergence. To me, unrestricted marketing warfare is media convergence. When we look at all the channels and touch points open to us, we will begin to realize that substance will overtake quantity, and focus will eliminate the shotgun approach.
We are all aware that technology will converge. Look at your smart phone or tablet if you doubt that. Convergence of technology is only the first step. Convergence of tactics and tools will follow.
If you want a real-life version of unrestricted marketing, you need to call me. I do have the answers, tactics, strategies and tools, but they are top secret.
Why call me? Your market is different from any other. For that reason, the need to have unrestricted marketing warfare targeted to achieve your goals is a difficult and intel-based need. I have the intel and means to make this happen. Engaging your market and your budget are the driving factors to be considered.
Thad@tifmc.org or (917) 597-1891 or thadcmce, friend me on Facebook, invite me to your LinkedIn page.