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Defeating the siege mentality

No defensive battle where a castle is surrounded by the enemy can hold for an indefinite length of time. Hiding behind stone castle walls will not prevent defeat, at most, delaying it. What should we do in the battlefield of business and marketing?

We grew up with mythology, the stuff that propels our imagination, our creativity, and for many of us, brings out the authors, the artists, the performers, the filmmakers in us.

When we read, and watched film adaptations of the Trojan War from the Iliad (attributed to Homer), we were captured by the cunning strategy of infiltration with a wooden horse in the city of Troy, despite Troy being a well-protected castle never breached before. Although the Trojan War may be an amalgamation of various sieges and battles during the Bronze Age, the idea is nonetheless captivating.

The use of cunning strategies to infiltrate or to breach well-protected castles are recorded in many real-world historical battles.

For example, closer to home, the Battle of Xiangyang (襄陽之戰) in the 13th century, between the invading Mongols (Yuan Dynasty) and Southern Song, showed that holding fort is at best a delay of the inevitable – utter defeat. The Mongols breached the castle with their superior technology, the counterweight trebuchet, and took down the castle.

Having a siege mentality seems like the most obvious decision when we are attacked. We adopt a defensive stance and have our backs against the wall. However, time and again, history has shown through battles large and small, when we are pressed against the wall, the inevitable result is utter defeat.

A few of us were chatting about the media scene recently, and someone lamented that traditional print media seem to be fading out, against the relentless onslaught of online media of various forms, whether directly competing news media, social media, or the increasingly popular video media, or even content in the form of interactive games.

An example of a siege mentality is when a traditional print media erects “pay-walls” to attempt to get readers to pay, while still attempting to extract advertising dollars from advertisers. At the same time, such a media may even alienate their agency partners by competing in the same space, or alienate potential advertisers by explicitly tying editorial and advertising together, blurring the lines of free media and paid media.

Conversely, some other traditional media recognized that hanging on to outdated practices will be detrimental, and became enlightened to providing content for free, endearing and enlarging their readership, which in turn benefitted advertising clients and agency partners.

It is no wonder in the marketing arena, there is an increase in corporations setting up their own newsrooms, their own broadcast studios, their own editorial teams, all geared up aggressively to take on an offensive rather than defensive stance in the objective of reaching out to the public. Likewise, agencies have also stepped forward to become active content developers and studios, helping clients reach out to the public in the light of the shift from traditional to social media.

Practitioners in marketing and communication, in whatever vertical field, recognize that social media, including interactive gaming and video, have turned what we used to believe as the castle that cannot be breached, into mere rubble.

The only way to move forward and to survive, is to take on the offensive strategy of providing as much quality content as possible, to as many people as possible, without feeding off the scraps left in an old castle.

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Seamus Phan has nearly 30 years of experience. He is a professional speaker, meeting facilitator, emcee, bilingual voiceover talent, marketing and branding consultant, creative director, copywriter, journalist, technologist, amateur photographer and filmmaker. Visit his communication consulting site at McGallen & Bolden. ©1984-2014 Seamus Phan. All rights reserved.