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5 Warfare Mistakes To Avoid In Digital Marketing Campaigns

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There have been plenty of parallels drawn between marketing and warfare. In fact Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has seen several applications in marketing. There are several lessons to be taken from The Art of War such as “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril” can highlight the need to pay close attention to the ever evolving consumer behaviour and media platforms. When those in the marketing field can learn so much from warfare, would it not be prudent to pay heed to the mistakes made in warfare? This list aims to elucidate some of the similarities between a failed military campaign and a failed digital marketing campaign.

1) French Invasion of Russia
Under the leadership of Napoleon, the French forces crossed the Neman River in 1812 beginning the doomed French Invasion of Russia. This invasion ended in a decisive loss for Napoleon’s forces, severely damaging his ambitions. One of the main reasons for this loss was the utter lack of preparation and foresight in the French camp. Their troops were not equipped to handle the cold and their supplies diminished at an alarming rate. Similarly if one were to set forth on a Digital Marketing Campaign with no firm plan in place and without having identified the right tools to overcome any seen and unforeseen obstacles, the battle will be lost before it begins.

2) Japan’s Defeat in World War II
World War 2 has been the biggest and bloodiest battle the world has seen. It also completely changed the socio-political landscape of the world. The powerful Japanese Empire collapsed, becoming a shadow of it’s former glory after the war. Japan was the last resisting member of the Axis forces and were heavily involved in all theatres of the war, playing a big role in defeating Allied forces. However as the war dragged on it became clear that many of Japan’s allies had started to falter, eventually dragging them down with them. Similarly, when working on a Digital Marketing Campaign it’s important to work with the right people. Your team, the agency you work with and anyone else involved must have the appropriate skill set and vision to make the campaign a success. If your picks are bad and fall apart in the home stretch then even the most promising of campaigns can turn into an utter disaster.

3) Julius Caesar’s Assassination
While not directly the result of a failed campaign, the assassination could be linked to a bad call taken during a military campaign. While preparing for war against the Parthian Empire, Caesar passed a law allowing him to appoint magistrates at his discretion. This decision was taken so that he could keep up his influence in Rome even while at the frontlines. While there were several other factors that led to the assassination, this decision coupled with the planned time-frame for the campaign spurred the conspirators to action. Now, the lesson here may not be as obvious as the ones taken from Napoleon and Japan but it is just as valuable. Caesar’s apparent narcissism and hunger for power can be seen as a cautionary tale. If you make a campaign that pushes your brand out to be the best thing in the world your target audience would undoubtedly feel belittled and you would find that instead of drawing in a crowd, you’ve just alienated them. It would perhaps be a wiser choice to make your campaign work for the people rather than solely glorify a brand.

4) Alexander’s Campaign of India
This campaign has been described as a disaster by some. While Alexander’s forces did see limited success in the Punjab region of India they soon fell to infighting. Tired from the harsh battles and unsettled by the rigorous conditions Alexander’s troops mutinied, refusing to continue the campaign. Another factor that played a part in this was the use of incorrect maps by Alexander, which only further piled on the pressure. The lack of cohesion shown by Alexander’s forces could well be seen in your Digital Marketing Campaigns. Your campaign is the sum of various working parts, be they in house personnel, an agency or even just a representative of your brand. It is important that all the working parts of your campaign are on the same page and are progressing in tandem. Should you find a segment of your campaign is isolated and working independently, could disaster be far behind?

5) Six-Day War
In 1967 Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq went to war against Israel. With the smaller nation of Israel surrounded from all sides, the bigger force sat back confident of a positive result. However, a pre-emptive strike by the Israeli air force absolutely demolished the Arab airstrips and aircrafts guaranteeing Israel air superiority. Unable to recover from this blow, the Arab nations were never able to get a foothold in the war. When you apply this to your Digital Marketing Campaign the lesson is obvious. If you do not pay heed to the emerging trends of marketing then you could easily be blind sided by your competitors. However, there is another lesson to be taken from this war, the optimization of your resources. When you look at what the Israeli forces achieved against a much bigger opponent, it’s hard to ignore how well they used the resources available to them. If you too manage to put your resources to perfect use then even on working on bare minimum you could produce something truly amazing.

As the list demonstrates there is a lot that warfare and military strategy can teach the business industry.  While we often concentrate more on learning from the winners, with good reason, it is said that those who do not learn from history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them. So when you look at military strategy to supplement your Digital Marketing Campaign, remember to learn from the mistakes as well. After all, everything is fair in love and war, and marketing is war.


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