Should We Be Snipers or Grenadiers?

August 7th, 2010   •   1 comment   

There are two schools of thought in marketing.

The first school teaches us to focus and concentrate all our energies and resources on one (or perhaps two) key strategies. I call them the snipers.


For this approach, one takes aim using the cross-hairs of one’s marketing optics and ensure that the chances of snaring a customer is high.

For a start, the extant environmental factors are wholly taken into consideration. This can cover everything from fashion and fads, popular culture, socio-cultural norms, political climate to the prevailing weather conditions.

Wait, there’s more.

Each and every trait of the customer – demographic (age, gender, income, housing etc), psychographic ( adventurer, bookworm, religious, etc), and geographic (North, South, East, West) – are taken into account. Elaborate focus group sessions, taste tests, historical purchase patterns, and a whole range of other customer metrics are also taken into consideration.

With every possible scenario mapped out, analysed and studied, nothing is left to chance.

The other school of thought, which I call the grenadiers (those who lob a grenade over the wall or shoot one from a bazooka like gun), embrace a different philosophy.


Their approach is one of approximation and “agaration“. Targeting the market segment called “as many people as possible”, they follow the rules of thumb, the laws of averages, and those still small voices at the back of their heads.

Unlike snipers, grenadiers value guesswork more than anything else. To them, time, speed and immediacy is of the essence. Taking risks and gambles are all par for the course, as nobody really knows how today’s finicky consumers will behave.

Purveyors of this approach embrace English economist John Maynard Keynes’ adage that “it is better to be roughly right, than precisely wrong”. While they do conduct some forms of research – like asking their parents, spouses or kids – their mostly trust their own hunches.

In my view, one should nuance one’s marketing strategies according to one’s familiarity with the territory. If you are operating in a new space, conducting surveys and focus groups may help you to be more efficient and less wasteful. If however, you already have a truckload of past experiences to work on, you can afford to take more chances.

Of course, this also depends on how competitive your market. Emerging greenfield areas may have less competitors while mature retail markets can be brutal to the uninitiated. The balance between pin-point targeting and mass guesstimation also hinges on the value and yield of each additional customer.

Which school of marketing would you embrace and why?

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One comment

  1. posted on Aug 09, 2010 at 3:13 AM

    snipers – u need the traits of patience, proper aim, do it right the first and only time, settle it once and for all hehe

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