Marketing as a Game of Chess

Edan Gelt

What is marketing strategy and what do strategists do? I feel like I’ve answered this question so many ways but defining it through the game of Chess is my ultimate favorite.

Marketing is the act of taking a look at your business from a 500-foot level. In comparison to Chess, the board is your marketplace (or your business) depending on how you want to play, and the goal is to either capture your clients or maybe it’s to remove your competitors (depending on your 500-ft view).

So how is Chess like Marketing Strategy?

Goal: Checkmate an opponent’s king

Strategy: I’ll open with “X strategy of opening moves” and attempt to control the middle of the board. Protect my king.

Tactics: I will move my knight here to respond to you moving your pawn.

Do Opponents Moves Change Strategy?

Like Chess, even with the ultimate strategic plan, you can’t always control your opponent’s moves so your strategy needs to be nimble enough to account for the unexpected.

Referring to the above example, I’ve created a mock client. Assuming, I am the owner of my own football stadium (don’t I wish) and I’ve set my goal, objective, strategies and tactics as below:

Goal: Increase NOI

Objective*: Increase attendance and food sales

Strategy: Offer promotional prices for pre-season buyers

Incorporate a ticket/food combo plan

Tactics: Send email newsletter to attendees of last seasons games

Create social media ad for my target audience (research zip codes of prior attendees to establish list)

Create special offer of ticket/food and send out postcards to existing attendee database to upgrade ticket to combo

Place media on X,X,X radio stations promoting pre-season prices and food combo.

Buy bus backs and billboards in markets whose demos match fans.

Looking at the above – the marketer creates strategies and tactics that match the goal of the company (increase NOI) and coordinates the mediums and professionals that will go into making the plan a success.

Going back to the game of chess, imagine the plan is in the implementation stage and the weather has been rainier and cooler than expected leading up to pre-season. Ticket sales aren’t moving. Food sales are no longer important – it’s time to change the strategy and tactics.

Move queen, reevaluate strategy and adjust the tactical plan.

Goal: Increase NOI

Objective*: Increase attendance and ancillary gear sales

Strategy: Offer promotional prices for pre-season buyers

Incorporate a ticket/gear combo plan

Offer rain or snow gear with ticket prices (branded umbrellas, rain sticks, hats, gloves, etc)

Tactics: Send email newsletter to attendees of last season’s games

Create social media ad for my target audience (research zip codes of prior attendees to establish list)

Create special offer of ticket/gear and send out postcards to existing attendee database to upgrade ticket to combo

Place media on X,X,X radio stations promoting pre-season prices and gear combo.

Buy bus backs and billboards in markets which demos match fans.

Once you have your marketplace set up and you enter it, time to play!

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One thought on “Marketing as a Game of Chess

  1. A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I believe that you need to write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not talk about such issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

    Like

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