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The game Battleship has been around for quite some time. In fact, long before Milton Bradley introduced the plastic version with pegs and plastic ships, Battleship was a paper and pen game produced under a number of different names. Now, you can get the electronic version, the mini version, or even play it on an array of gaming platforms like Xbox.

No matter how you play the game, the premise stays the same. You place your ships within a defined grid, with each ship taking up between two and five squares. Your opponent does the same. Once you’re both done, you begin firing at your opponent’s ships, trying to sink each one. To sink a ship, you must successfully fire on each square taken up by the enemy. To mark this on your board, you place white pegs for “misses” and red pegs for “direct hits”. The first player to sink all of the opponent’s ships wins.

Marketing is a lot like Battleship. 

I know it sounds strange, but it’s true. In fact, many of the “rules” governing Battleship Strategy also influence marketing. Bear with me as I unpack that a bit.

  1. Take chances, knowing that some will be misses
    In order to make a direct hit, you have to fire some missiles. A few will hit; many will not. In marketing, you have to try different things. You have to test different messaging. Not everything will work. I tell our team often that what we do is a lot like Battleship: we form an educated guess, we fire our missiles, and then we observe the result. Marketing is making guesses as to human behavior. We can do so in an educated way, but we won’t always be right and we should be prepared for our share of misses.
  2. When you make a direct hit, keep going in that direction
    As I’ve been teaching my five-year-old to play Battleship, I’ve observed something interesting. He gets incredibly excited about a direct hit… and then the next turn he fires in a totally different direction for a miss. I keep guiding him to the fact that, if you make a direct hit, then the ship extends out in one direction or the other, so keep firing in that direction. The same is true in marketing: if you find a strategy that works, keep moving in that direction, even if you have to make slight changes along the way.
  3. Once you sink one ship, the others may not be close-by
    Although it depends on the strategy of your opponent, players generally place their ships in various locations across the grid. Once you sink a ship, you likely should be looking elsewhere for the next one. In marketing, stay open to new ideas and new directions. This will both push you to take chances and to have another strategy in mind once your current marketing campaign sinks.
  4. Take note of where you’ve already fired
    If you don’t put pegs in the grid to mark where you fired, you won’t know where you’ve already been in order to refine things going forward. Recordkeeping in marketing is vital. As you take your educated guesses, make note of everything that is happening. Collect data like it is gold. One big advantage of digital marketing is that it’s data-rich. (Trust me, we work with clients every single day to refine their marketing plans based on the data we acquire.) Regardless of your form of marketing, however, there’s always some level of data available.
  5. Learn from your misses and think strategically
    As you try to find the opponent’s ship, are you guessing every box on the grid consecutively or bouncing from one corner to the next? Use the data you’re collecting, to learn what is working and what is not. See where the numbers lead you and use your misses to craft a strategy to move your marketing forward.

Yes, marketing is a lot like Battleship and, like my son, it can be helpful to have a seasoned guide acquaint you with the game. Use others as resources and guides to form new ideas, to learn from other approaches, and to refine your own strategy. At Engenius, we’re always happy to answer questions, talk strategy over a call, or point you in the right direction for another helpful resource.

The more you play the game the more you’ll have direct hits. In no time you’ll be on your way to winning the game.

Unsure of Your Next Marketing Move?

Marketing may be like Battleship… but that doesn’t help you figure out what trends to chase or how to direct your digital spending. Not sure where to go or what’s better for your specific industry? We’re happy to answer questions and provide advice on how you can make the most out of your digital marketing plan.

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