What content marketers can learn from the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war

 

In the summer of 2006 Israel and Hezbollah, a militia based in Lebanon and designated as a terrorist organization were engaged in an all out war.

On paper, this was no contest. Israel’s military was the most advanced in the Middle East. Hezbollah was a guerrilla army and while it might have some chances in hit and run attacks it was no match for a conventional army in a face to face fight.

Besides, Hezbollah had fought Israel a few years ago and as expected was handed out a brutal beating.

So it shocked everyone when this time around Hezbollah did not fold as expected and in many engagements even beat back Israeli troops.

When the dust settled and an UN imposed ceasefire signaled the cessation of hostilities, Israel was left with more than a bloodied nose economically and a seriously dented military reputation.

For a nation whose aims were to exterminate one of its most strident enemies, the survival of Hezbollah was widely recognized as its defeat.

After the war, a number of experts, think-tanks and commissions were tasked with finding the reasons behind Israel’s less than satisfactory performance. One of them, the US Army Combined Arms Center, analyzed the Israeli military strategy in the run-up and during the war and uncovered something surprising- usage of overly complicated language in the military doctrine.

Say what?

Complicated language can defeat armies…..

In April 2006 IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) had put into place a new military doctrine which was radically different from the old one. Officers who read it were confused because the document had unfamiliar terms, complicated logic and convoluted definitions. The terminology was derived from post modern French philosophy, literary theory, architecture and psychology- not topics on a typical soldier’s reading list.

When the time came to transform the theoretical doctrine into  battle tactics military planners didn’t know where to start because no one was sure what they were expected to do.

So it was not surprising when enquiry commissions uncovered instances of monumental military incompetence during the war. For example, government investigators probing the chaotic advance of Division 91 of IDF towards the Mediterranean coast wrote in their report that

……commanders did not fully understand their orders. Many tactical orders were composed without a time element and since they were not clear they were sometimes changed on a hourly basis…. An entire battalion sat in the same location for several days without moving and when the commander finally received orders to push deeper into enemy territory he was confused and failed to fulfill the mission.

and

when Division 91 gave its battle orders to its brigades, the orders were such that they were impossible to understand

Additionally, most battlefield orders issued to units in the field had very vague terms like “render the enemy incoherent”, “make him distressed”, “chased down” or “achieve standoff domination of the theatre”.

What was a soldier fighting for his life, with bullets whizzing and bombs exploding all around him, expected to do with orders like these?

It was amateur hour at  one of the most professional armies in the world.

…..and tank companies

If you are in charge of marketing at a B2B company you are not very different from a general in a war.

Your weapons would be marketing materials like websites,videos, newsletters, special reports, blogs, white papers and case studies and their aim would be to position your company as the best suited to do the job.

To you, they might be so convincing that it seems only a rock can resist their persuasiveness.

But do they sell you in the most effective way to your prospects?

After reading them can your dream customers see themselves buying from you and using your products and services to make their lives better than before?

Is your marketing content telling the story of your brand and connecting at a visceral level with your market?

If that’s not happening you don’t need me to tell you that things are not rosy.

There are a few things you can do in the short and medium term to help you decide whether your marketing dollars are put to good use. Like,

  • Delve deep into your analytics data to see which pages and keywords attract the maximum traffic.
  • Find out the opening rate, bounce rate and click through rate of your newsletters.
  • Determine the sources which send the maximum amount of traffic. Are they the same sources where you have invested the maximum amount of resources?
  • Check the stats on the calls to action- buy button, request for inquiry, whitepaper/case study downloads etc. More means you are doing okay.

Additionally, monitor social media platforms to find out what people are saying about your brand. Monitoring platforms have come of age and you have a wide range of options depending on your needs and your budget.

Above all, don’t get emotionally invested in a particular campaign or a piece of content. Test your response rates rigorously and yank the underperformers. An artistic ad or a landing page with a clever headline matters jack if prospects are not interested in buying.

Running a profitable business is hard enough; don’t let confusing communications be a fatal drag.

Image courtesy Xansas
About Bhaskar Sarma

I am a copywriter and content marketer and I work with B2B tech companies to create great content that converts prospects to clients. If you want your ideal clients to think of you as a trusted solution provider instead of a vendor let's talk

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