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Marketing as Psychological Warfare
Category: Advice, Marketing, Small Business

Everywhere you go it seems that you will find an armchair marketer. This is usually a person who knows nothing about marketing but feels the need to advise you on the subject anyway. We find armchair marketers all over the place. At the local Chamber meeting, in your small business networking group, and who could forget all those self-proclaimed experts running around LinkedIn!

My definition of marketing is that it is first and foremost psychological warfare. There is a psychology to marketing and to be successful the first thing you need to do is understand that psychology. This is why marketing disciplines like consumer behavior and market research exist.

The Definition of Marketing

As a small business owner, who has taught university classes in entrepreneurial marketing and who also runs workshops for small businesses, my first lesson is always the same. I teach people that marketing is…

  1. Psychological warfare
  2. It’s about being liked, trusted, and respected by your customers/clients
  3. Creating an emotional connection with your target audience

Today we are going to tackle marketing as psychological warfare.

It is not uncommon for my small business clients (and my students) to look at me like I have three heads when I start to explain this concept. When you dive into it, however, this theory makes a lot of sense.


Positioning: What Is It and How Can It Work For You?

Marketing as psychological warfare is the position that you hold in your target customer’s mind. Positioning is a concept that was created by Al Ries and Jack Trout in a series of articles that appeared in Advertising Age in the 1970s.

Later, they turned those articles into a book. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.* I recommend this book to everyone interested, not only in marketing but also in running a business. Yes, this book was written over 40 years ago. Yes, it is still highly relevant and you should read it anyway.

Do you know that on average a person is exposed to over 10,000 brand images every single day? This statement appeared in an article on the American Marketing Association website in 2017.  Every day you are constantly bombarded by brand images. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by brand messages from watching television to walking through the grocery store, to even your very own closet.

People think 10,000 is a lot. In the grand scheme of things, it’s very easy to see how we can get to that number. The average grocery store alone carries over 40,000 products. Drive down the street. How many signs and billboards are you passing?

The Average Attention Span

Do you know that the average person’s attention span is about 8 seconds? Which is about 1 second less than your garden variety goldfish. All of these brand messages combined with low attention spans mean that we need to make an impact on our target audience. We need to cut through the white noise that occurs when our target customer tunes out all of the brand messaging to get them to remember us and our product or service.

So how do you break through all this noise? And how do we break through the noise without hitting our target customers over the head with the proverbial sledgehammer?

We do this by gaining a position in our target audience’s minds. We do this by integrating our marketing communications – subtly. Integrated Marketing Communications or IMC is the area of marketing that focuses on consistency of message.

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC)

At its core, IMC is one voice, with one message, across multiple platforms. When you standardize your messaging and branding you are making it easier for your target audience to remember you.

Whether they engage with you online, in-person, at an event, or through an advertisement, it doesn’t matter because your messaging is always the same. You are gaining a “position” in their mind. The goal is for them to remember you.

Therefore, at the end of the day, yes, we believe that marketing is in fact psychological warfare.

*As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. There is no cost to you!

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