Make war, not love

monMarch is a funny old month. Part of our Roman calendar, it was originally the first month of the year, and in sunny Mediterranean Rome it heralded the start of spring. This meant (among other things) that it was a very logical time to start the military campaign season for the year, which is why it’s named after Mars, the Roman God of war.

Now, the Romans knew a thing or too about military campaigns, we think you’ll agree. So when they say that March is the best time to start one, who are we to argue?

And the modern version of a Roman military battle is?

Well, it’s a marketing campaign isn’t it? No?

The word ‘Campaign’ is also Roman, named after the plain of Campania in Italy, a place of annual wartime operations. And don’t the modern problems in tackling several markets and cultural difficulties seem similar to the empire-building antics of the Caesar’s?

A campaign is a war, and you need to win. So let’s not beat about the bush. Join the Romans in seeing that March is the month to begin planning a marketing campaign. Why should you? Well…

The time is now

The best time for marketing is when people aren’t busy buying other things. Ideally, you’d like to catch people’s attention right when they are about to purchase a product or service like yours. But realistically, you need to convince them before they go out and buy.

Post-January is usually a period of relative frugality, every year. After the Christmas and January sales rush, it all quietens down for a short spell. This year especially though, as we all know, we’ve been in a period where buying has been less of a priority for all of us. So while other, already established products and services aren’t being bought surely there’s room for some new voices to attract people?

Also, as we’ve mentioned here before, the knee-jerk reaction of less intelligent companies is to reduce their advertising budgets when the market shrinks. Which means you get better deals on advertising, and that there is less ‘noise’ competing with you; it’s win win.

Beware the ideas of March

However, it’s one thing starting a campaign, but it will still have to be a very good one to actually have a major effect. So, what is a good campaign?

Let’s start with this question; what’s the most successful campaign you can think of? Not an easy one if you’re not involved in such things all day, so we’ll prompt you a bit. How did Volkswagen get where they are today? How about Nike? McDonalds? They must have started somewhere.

In general, they’ve usually either gotten to the top from a worse position than you might think, or had some of the worst public PR nightmares along the way. Yet still they thrive. Yes, they understand their customers, they operate from an extremely good position, and we’re not doubting an awful lot of hard work and intelligence which goes into running such businesses. But they all have an advertising campaign pedigree which has taken the fight to the market. VW, for instance, overcame a German heritage just after World War 2 (try counteracting the fact that you’re ‘Hitler’s little car project’!), and surmounted an ingrained ‘big car’ fetish that all Americans had at the time.

Companies make these sort of bold moves more than you might think, but we easily forget the moves and imagine that they have been omnipresent forever. DeBeers invented the notion that you had to give a diamond to a prospective marriage partner, and Absolute made a luxury brand of a (by law) flavourless commodity, both through campaigns. And it’s the same for other magnificent campaigns. Bold moves are what win battles, hearts and minds. The Romans might have been the experts, but that doesn’t mean the little guys didn’t do it just as well. Ask Hannibal what he was doing marching elephants over the Alps and into Italy against the Romans!

A great campaign (and we all need something to aspire to) does three things.

  1. It is different from that which came before, discernibly changing minds.
  2. It entrenches a brand as No.1 in it’s category, or it defines a new category
  3. It is utterly memorable

Great campaigns will touch us. When we are creating them, we are aiming to get to the heart of what makes people tick. Yes we’re basically talking about advertisements for car polish, computers or care homes. No, they’re not really philosophical statements or anything so meaningful; but in their own little way they show us who we are, and we love them for it, and any brand involved in that will be loved too.

March to victory

So, friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Now is the time to campaign for your brand. If the only way to achieve love for what you are selling is to march forward and go to war, then do so, knowing that aiming for a great campaign will get you the victory you want, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

We’d love to help you with a strategic plan for your brand. To discuss how we’d go about that, or to find out how we’ve helped our clients to conquer their markets, contact us now:

Milton Bayer

Milton Bayer

We are Milton Bayer, an award winning, multi-disciplinary, strategic and creative marketing agency.

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