Villing & Company

If Frederick the Great Ran Your Marketing Department

I'm reading an interesting historical novel right now called "The Fort" by Bernard Cromwell. In setting up his defenses against an American attack during the Revolutionary War, the fictitious British general quotes Frederick the Great saying "In trying to defend everything, he defends nothing." I believe that same logic can be applied to contemporary marketing on many levels.

One of the great challenges facing modern marketers is the proliferation of communication channels and outlets. Television has grown from the Big 3 networks to broadcast and cable options in the hundreds. Radio has fragmented to the point that in most markets, it is difficult to have sufficient reach of fairly broad audience groups without buying more stations than is generally feasible. Now we are facing some of the same issues in social media.

In the beginning there was Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. One could say they were the Big 3 of social media. Oh, yes, I forgot MySpace. (How quickly we forget.) And, of course, this overlooks YouTube, Flickr and other tangential sites. Then along come sites like GoWalla, FourSquare and Google+, and one of the hottest new sites, Pinterest. Just out of curiosity, I Googled major social networking sites. Wikipedia lists a couple hundred which it describes as "notable and well-known" with a quick disclaimer that this list is not "exhaustive." Well, it exhausted me – especially when I realized there were some serious omissions on the list including the aforementioned Pinterest.

But whether we are talking "traditional" media, social media or more fundamental marketing decisions like the identification of one's target markets or message strategies, I believe all too often marketers get bogged down in a multiplicity of tactics and lack real strategic focus. I'm no military strategist, but I'm pretty sure one of the most fundamental principles of war is concentrating one's forces at the point of attack, or as stated in the Army Field Manual, "Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time."

Sounds like pretty good advice to me.

Filed Under: social media

Villing & Company

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