A surprising lesson “The Art of War” can teach us about modern marketing

I finished reading “The Art of War” a couple of weeks ago now and after thinking about it for a while I have come to understand many lessons from Sun Tzu’s work, to name a few:

  • His pragmatic approach to ethics
  • The value he places on people and life
  • The concept of avoiding unnecessary conflict even if victory is probable
  • An understanding that tactics that have worked in the past will not work in the future
  • Thoughts on identifying  competitive advantage (expressed in battlefield terms)
  • Thoughts on insight and research (expressed in terms of spys)

If I thought hard I could probably go on, but I won’t, just read the book, its only 33 pages long! And that is the point that stuck me the most, it is short, simple and to the point. It was clearly written as a practical work by an experienced practitioner, not an armchair scholar.


But what does that teach us?

Well the Art of War first appeared in about 400BC, it is still studied today, across the globe! It has lasted, very well. The reason for it’s lastability is it’s simple, practical nature. As another example: Machiavelli’s “The Prince” runs to just 100 pages!

So simple = good. This transfers into everything we do, campaigns, strategies, guides, training, toolkits, proposals whatever… Keep it simple!

To quote Michael Peters: “All jobs should have a Big Idea and be executed with sheer simplicity.”


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