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This simple framework will help you create higher performing marketing material and avoid dreaded low conversion rates. I hope you find it useful.

Going to War?

When Sun Tzu wrote the words “Know thine enemy” almost 3,000 years ago, he definitely wasn’t thinking about marketing storytelling and how to improve conversion rates. As a military strategist, he was thinking about defeating an enemy in battle.  So how could it be relevant to building a marketing campaign today?

Critical to success in any type of marketing is making an emotional connection with your audience.  That emotion could one of :

    • Love
    • Fear
    • Hope
    • Anger
    • Sadness
    • Disgust
The Art of War as a marketing guide

Choosing your emotion

There is a reason advertisers sometimes try to make you cry. They are targeting sadness and hope. You won’t forget this advert quickly and you will associate the product with the hopeful ending, at least that’s the plan!

It is generally accepted that fear is the most powerful emotion, which is why it is so often used by companies, politicians and campaigning organizations.  So, we return to “know thine enemy”, why – because that can generate fear.


If you have a product or service to sell, it usually solves a problem. This problem is the core of your enemy.  Selling gym membership, the enemy could be lack of energy, being overweight or laziness.  Selling a conference, the enemy could be falling behind your peers, not networking and making new important connections.

Know thine enemy and make them appear


Connect directly to one person


Now you have a mortal enemy defined, write directly to one individual reader, your target audience. Describe the enemy and build up to making a big promise to defeat them.  This is the early hook to keep people interested.


List out other, inferior solutions, saying why they fail to defeat your enemy.


Now is the time to describe how your solution CAN defeat the enemy and how it can impact your reader.  Show evidence, results and testimonials if possible to give a flow of positivity.


Now give one clear action your reader needs to take. If possible, create urgency, perhaps with a limited time special offer.

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Take one action

This framework is used by many organizations to build highly successful marketing collateral.  Give it a try and let us know how you did!

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