When I was growing up I was addicted to games. I loved board games, card games, Nintendo games, puzzles, sports, checkers and chess. You name it, and I’d play it.
I’m not saying I was very good at any of these games, but I was (and still am today) up for playing at any time. In fact, just the other day my wife and I were out with friends and I got embarrassingly excited when we found the game Operation on one of the bar shelves. :)
The more I think about it, I realize that my love for games is what drew me in to the field of digital marketing. When you peel away all the technology and just focus in on the fundamentals of marketing, then you’ll see it looks a whole lot like the game of chess. In this article we’ll explore these similarities and what this means for your 2015 marketing plan.
You Can’t Win With One Move
If you get nothing else out of this article, I hope you’ll remember this section. Nobody ever won a chess match with a single move. It’s simply impossible. The early moves in a chess match (like moving pawns) lay the foundation for future moves that will win or lose the game.
The same is true with digital marketing. You’re not going to launch a marketing campaign and instantly start dominating your market overnight. It’s going to take many, many, many more moves.
When you’re just starting out with digital marketing, it’s best to be in the mindset that you’re building a foundation. Some moves (like adding a lead magnet to your website and starting an email newsletter) may even look ineffective at first. However, later on you’ll see that those early moves ultimately led to your success.
You Need to Use All Of Your Pieces
When you’re just learning chess you’ll inevitably start to favor a few pieces. For example, I like the Bishops. These are the pieces that move diagonally across the board. Other people like the Rooks or the Knights, and everyone loves the Queen because she can move in any direction.
As you can imagine, when you favor one or a couple pieces, then your opponent can gain a huge advantage when she eliminates those pieces from the board. Plus, you’re limited in the number of strategies you can use.
Clearly, the best chess players in the world are masters of ALL the pieces. That’s because every piece has its own set of strengths and weaknesses that you need to use to your advantage.
Similarly, every marketing tactic comes with its own pros and cons, and you never want to be limited to a single tactic. The businesses that dominate online are the ones that learn how to use ALL the different digital marketing tactics.
It’s OK To Sacrifice Your Pawns
Another important lesson in chess is the art of the sacrifice. Beginner chess players try to avoid losing pieces at all costs, which inevitably leads to their demise. They’ll try to avoid losing a pawn and in the process leave their Queen or King vulnerable.
Plus, beginner chess players have yet to learn how to think a couple steps ahead to see how sacrificing one of their own pieces could give them a huge advantage.
The art of the sacrifice is critical in marketing as well. In many industries, you’ll often find that the top advertisers are actually sacrificing their initial sales. By that I mean they are breaking even on the sale or possibly losing money in order to get the customer.
For beginner marketers, that sounds crazy. Why would you continue to advertise when you’re losing money on the initial sale?
Well, it’s because those businesses are thinking two or more steps ahead in their sales process. They know they can sacrifice the initial product or service sale because it will lead to a more profitable back-end sale. For example, a chiropractor may advertise an initial exam and adjustment at an extremely low price (where it’s impossible to be profitable) because she knows that many of those initial visits will ultimately convert into repeat, profitable patient relationships.
Need to Revamp Your Marketing Plan?
Now that you know the art of the sacrifice, I’m going to give you one more example so you can see this first hand. I’m sacrificing (aka discounting) my guide to create an effective online marketing plan. It’s called: The Online Marketing Action Plan.