STRATEGY IS GRAMMAR, O MARKETER
(Thirteenth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!)
“We cannot camp here!”
Flush from the recent battle victory against Sullaan, Rajarajan and his army got ready for the final thrust ahead. The goal that had propelled all his action to date. The reason why his men chose to follow him. His men and those he had borrowed from the Hoysala King, Narasimhan III. The path to this day had been tumultuous with several wins and setbacks. Rajarajan, under the tutelage of the senior commander Agastyan, had learned a lot. It looked that this learning was going to be a lifelong exercise.
“We cannot camp here!”, said Agastyan.
And why not?
“The land here is intractable. This is not suitable for defence of any kind and we will easily fall prey, even to a small force. We need to keep moving towards Mahendramangalam, where Sundara Pandyan is congregating all his forces.”
“So, we remain on the move! Isn’t that dangerous? Wouldn’t our men get tired?”
“Yes, and no.”
Suganthi, Rajarajan’s wife and the god-daughter of Agastyan, came to their preparatory camp. To wish them before the final onslaught. She stayed joined their strategy discussion.
“So, we need to be on the move. Sundara Pandyan should not be aware of the date when we will reach his camp. And we need the men to be fresh! That is quite a conundrum we need to solve”.
Suganthi was a trained war strategist, and she put forth her suggestions. The men, some of them, in those times, listened to advice regardless of where it came from. We need more of them today as well.
The plan was put in motion.
Agastyan took one half of the army and moved in a roundabout manner towards the one key fort that stood between them and Sundara Pandyan’s camp. Rajarajan lead the other half directly towards the enemy base.
Agastyan studied the fort that Velan was leading. He staked it out for a couple of days and then encircled it. This is a strategy that Velan was well familiar with. The camp stayed in place for one whole week. The sleepy men and their food fires let Velan know that a long haul siege was at play. Firewood was being stockpiled outside the fort. Soldiers moved in and out of the tents. Some walked around the fort and set up a rear-guard action base. Velan and his men kept vigil and were ever ready should Agastya’s strategy change, and they rushed into an attack.
Rajarajan’s forces, though, were visibly tired and dragging their feet. Months of battle and marching had hit them at last. Had the men hit their wall? The invisible wall that puts paid to all aspirations and pushes us to just lie down and sleep. Rajarajan urged them to continue through encouragement, taunts, and orders. His men complied. The progress was slow, and at times pathetic. Is this the army that was going to defeat Sundara Pandyan? Rajarajan ensured that his men got extra rations that night. He stood up by the campfire and gave a rousing speech. A speech of the valor of the past Pandyan Kings. Tales of feats of Pandyan commanders and soldiers. Stories of training with his blood brothers and how Vikraman gave up his life for the larger cause. It charged every single one of his men, who went to bed recharged!
Sundara Pandyan was smiling, but he was also worried. Every time there was some good news, his instincts again kicked in. He was a smart King and knew how wily his enemies could be. The report he heard was that Velan was holding his fort. Rajarajan was advancing slowly, and it would take at least three days for his army to come into their zone. Three days when they would not find any suitable place to camp at night. Mahendramangalam was the place Sundara Pandyan had chosen strategically. He ensured his forces remained alert and well trained. It was now a game of waiting. To let the mouse come to him and his trap. There more days, and he will forever eliminate the scourge — and Chozhas from the face of the earth. Three more days.
The morning of the second day, as Sundara’s camp was slowly awakening, they were roused by a cry. Their base was under attack. “Assassins have entered their camp and are slitting the throats of the soldiers.”, was the cry from one of the soldiers. It was just the sentries who had been killed. The sentries who were supposed to guard and raise the alarm had been eliminated. One soldier who had walked to the periphery for his morning ablutions noticed a dead sentry and screamed. Right after the first cry of terror, he joined the dead sentry. An arrow pierced his throat, but the alarm had been raised.
The soldiers scrambled to get their weaponry and get in formation. The cloud of sleep hangover mixed with confusion meant there was little cohesion in their actions. The soldiers had trained well, but not for a scenario of a morning surprise attack by the enemy.
Rajarajan’s army stormed into the camp and started attacking Sundara’s army. There was a significant obstacle to the south of the Pandyan camp. Rajarajan attacked from the east. It was mayhem for a while, but Sundara’s army got their wits together. A fightback ensued. Trained Pandyan soldiers got over their stupor and were now getting into their well-oiled muscle memory. Rajarajan’s archers, though, knew whom to target. They ensured that the key leaders in Sundara’s army were felled. This lead to confusion in the ranks of men. Their goal was to disturb the mental equilibrium while the soldiers inside the field struck out physically.
Rajarajan’s aide raised their flag and blew the bugle. A signal for Agastyan and his forces to join the battle. They attacked from the west. Sundara’s men were shocked by this new army joining against them. To the north, there was only one small path through which one could escape. In the heat of the battle, mentally disturbed and having seen one more army attack, one soldier from Sundara’s ally army made a break for it. He rushed to the narrow path to escape and save his life. Two more of his fellow soldiers followed, and soon it was a deluge.
Sundara looked at this running tribe and grimaced. What a shame!
The escaping soldiers met the arrows from archers who had parked themselves for this very moment. This was going to be a rout.
Sundara Pandyan knew his game was up. He was surrounded but continued to fight.
Rajarajan went up to him and invited him to a sword fight. It was a fight to behold. The fights and skirmishes around them stopped as the men saw the two of them fight. The advantage ebbed and flowed, and finally, youth and energy got the better of Sundara.
Rajarajan, after years, avenged the death of his father.
He was supposed to feel elated and happy. Instead, he felt something hollow inside. He could not place his finger on it, but he felt sad. Rajarajan walked away from the battlefield, lost in his thoughts. He wondered why he wasn’t feeling satisfied even after achieving the purpose he set out!
Suganthi’s plan was to split the army to deceive Sundara Pandyan about the Chozha army’s size.
Rajarajan had to ensure that his men acted tired and wobbly to give an impression that his men were spent. This was part of the ploy. During the night, though, his men moved forward in double-quick time to reach Sundara’s camp much earlier — taking them by surprise.
Agastya’s role was to attack and capture Velan’s fort, but instead, he set up camp and did something different. Agastyan put up a big show of encircling Velan’s fort. He left behind a few men to keep up the pretense of a long siege. He then took most of his army and side-stepped the fort altogether. When asked why he mentioned that there was little to gain from capturing the fort. It will not provide any significant advantage over the battle with Sundara Pandya. At best, it will be a distraction where they could lose men and time. Instead, Agastya walked around and sped to join Rajarajan’s army at the right time and place.
Agastyan knew Rajarajan’s state of mind. He went up and said:
STRATEGY IS GRAMMAR.
When you know the framework, the rest of the tactics depend on the enemies’ size and moves.
Water, Agastyan said, is how we need to act. Water flows and adapts to the environment it goes through. Changing shape and nature, using gaps and crevices — all to get what needs to be done, done.
STRATEGY IS GRAMMAR.
One who learns and understands grammar will mould and adapt words to communicate well.
One who understands the strategy of war knows which moves and tactics to make — to win.
In today’s world of marketing communication,
Strategy is grammar that defines the who, why, what and when!
Use tactics like prose, poetry, photos as required by your tribe or your competition!
- If there is not much to be gained by an action, it is best to avoid it — no point doing a lot for minimal gains.
- Plan for all possible scenarios, especially attacks from places, people, and a time you think is impossible.
- Use sleight and deception to your advantage.
- Be ON THE MOVE.
- Use external triggers like flags, posters, sounds to keep your team/army motivated.
- Be like WATER.
Lessons from Sun Tzu
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This is the thirteenth in the series called “The Martial Marketer”. War strategies for work!
1. Marketing Camouflage! Success is sweet.
2. A Trojan variation to defend and attack.
3. Victory at all costs.
4. Size does matter.
5. Fight the fight within, first.
6. The (marketing) warrior without vanity.
7. Playing with Perception.
8. Fools rush in.
9. An alliance is the way forward.
10. What will you do once your strategy is known?
11. When big attacks small?
12. A cornered tiger is most dangerous.
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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