Strategic Marketing Is A Lot Like Chess Game
As a school and college student, playing chess was one of my favorite pastimes. With my obsession to use analogy or metaphors to explain my thoughts, I realized that a marketing strategist has a lot in common with the chess grandmaster.
In a game of chess, there are two opponents and one winner (unless it is a draw). However, for the sake of our discussion we have a winner.
“The goal of any chess game is to checkmate the other King, as the objective of a marketer is to establish their brand as No 1 in the market.
The Resources At Your Disposal
The chess board represents the market. Each player has sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns. Each type of the six pieces moves differently and abide by various rules.
- The king is the brand which each player tries to protect at any cost
- The queen is the strategic marketer with the big picture, planning the different moves evaluating the possible scenarios and outcomes, and decides on the next steps / directions. It requires patience, deep knowledge of the buyer requirements, market, competitors and most significantly critical thinking.
- The rooks, bishops, and knights represent the different marketing channels used by the marketer to create visibility, with each channel having its limitations.
- The pawns represent the value proposition, communicated via the marketing and sales collaterals (website, brochure, white paper, eBook, webinar, case studies and video). A great marketer realizes a well-played pawn (value proposition) can turn the tables.
Staying Ahead By A Few Steps To Win The Game
There is always a first mover advantage. However, the opponent, playing catch-up, must develop the knack to assess his/her current position, and plan the next move. By taking calculated risks (by drawing up a plan for what could follow) and whether the move provides a temporary or a long-term advantage.
As a marketer, it means knowing where you are and where you want to go (end goal). It starts with:
- Self-Assessment – identifying your advantages and disadvantages or weakness, understanding how those benefits relate to one another
- Market Assessment – Ability to address the unmet needs of buyers/market and prioritize the features of the products and price accordingly, understating the impact of the economic and political environment on the brand
- Competitor Assessment – know the opponents weakness and when to strike
- Marketing Channel Assessment – What is working and why in across the different channel
- Content Assessment – to evaluate current sales and marketing content and assessing whether it is relevant, actionable, targetable, trackable, and reusable – for various channels and buyers helping the marketer stand out and build trust.
Understanding of the current positioning helps creating a realistic (Marketing) Plan.
Many Potential Paths To Take, But No Hard And Fast Rules
Along the journey to success, (both the chess player and marketer) you are spoilt by myriad choices, you can make without any rules per say. Yes, there are formal rules to what moves one can make in chess and what is possible through a website or metrics one can measure. However, as good players you do not consider either of those things when coming up with strategies because it is a part of your being. The rules fade in the background, as in the end its all about results.
Just Because You Are In A Rush, Don’t Cause Blunders – Be Vigilant And Adaptive
For success, you both know that, you have to be alert and proactive in adapting/ refining to changes as you move forward. Also, in making the moves first and have the bandwidth and confidence to experiment to see what produces big results.
A Lifetime To Master
The skill gets sharpened over the years with a firm grasp of fundamental concepts and ability to apply it in practice for both the chess players and marketers. In both chess and marketing, if you ever stopped learning you would quickly find yourself at a loss compared to competitors.
Confuse Your Opponent – You Can Play Into People’s Emotions For Success
You want your opponent to think with their emotions instead of reasoning and make them act on their impulse. You can achieve this by consciously making an irrational move that would confuse a good player who anticipates you are following a particular pattern.
Raise The Bar By Benchmarking With The Best
The best way to get better at business/chess is to play a better player. You will never elevate your skill set if you decide to play those less skilled than you consistently. Similarly, as a marketer you need to be amidst a creative, enterprising team with a go-getter attitude, motivating each other along the way. Self-learning is essential, but working with people at the next level is how you raise the bar.
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Image Courtesy: Pixabay
Innovatus Marketers Touchpoint LLP is a customer experience, marketing, service design, design thinking and business innovation consulting firm, based in India. We offer go-to-market and digital strategy consulting and help our clients rethink and redesign customer and employee value in the digital era. We offer design thinking workshops and consulting, tailored to enable, accelarete or transform your business. We are laser-focused on the problem at hand and your opportunity space, and optimize process to make design thinking and service design principles accessible to your employees who’ve never done it before or stuck-up, and provide “just adequate” theory to help you get moving and achieve outcomes.
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