July 11, 2016

Marketing Disguise vs Marketing Strategy

It was the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme the other week.

While everybody has heard of the Battle of the Somme, Britain had a potentially bigger problem in 1916. At sea.

This ship is the HMS President. It’s the last surviving example of a ‘Q’ ship, and one of only three British navy warships still afloat from WW1.

HMS President

The problem was that German U-boats had successfully blockaded Britain by attacking British shipping. Submerged U-boats were difficult to attack. There were no depth charges in 1916, so the best way to attack a U-boat was to lure it to the surface.

U-boats would first sight a target using a periscope. If the target looked undefended the U-boat would surface before attacking by gunfire, to save torpedoes for larger targets.

The Q-ships were created to exploit this arrangement.

On sighting a U-boat periscope, the officers of a Q-ship would lounge around on deck. Many would look unshaven, wearing rough merchant clothing. Some would smoke cigarettes. The Q-ship would look the image of a defenceless merchant vessel.

Once the U-boat had fully surfaced the disguise would be dropped, and panels in the side of the Q-ship would slide away to reveal guns. In a trick of disguise the tables were suddenly turned.

I see many people implement their email marketing strategy like they are plotting a Q-ship attack. You opt-in for their stuff, and for weeks and weeks you receive ‘nurture emails’ from them. Maybe they send you their ‘top seven strategies’, or their ‘forty-nine best ideas’, or whatever.

At some point the nurture period ends and the fa├žade is dropped. The offer is revealed, and you are bombarded with sales messages.

At the end of the sales messages they give up and move on. They label you as a ‘bad prospect’, from a ‘bad traffic source’.

Compared to the infamy of the Somme you’ve probably never heard of a ‘Q-ship’. The Q-ships were short-lived because they relied on a trick. The Q-boats were a short-term fix to the U-boat problem, not a long term solution.

You need to be planning your marketing nurture sequences in a strategic way, rather than a ‘we haven’t sent anything out for a while’ way. Go for long-term fixes rather than short-term patches.

If you need help planning out that strategy you should get in touch.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.