By Harvey Hirsch Know the smallest things about your prospect and you will understand the largest. May 17, 2004 -- Go Rin No Sho (the Book of Five Rings) by Miyamoto Musashi elaborates on the five fighting styles of his rules of warfare. Written in the early 1600s, Musashi's wisdom still rings true when applied to marketing in today's competitive arena. In his interpretation of the Five Rings, Musashi refers to the Shinto philosophy of harmony with the elements: Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and Void, and how the elements affect his fighting strategy. If you believe as I do that marketing is war, let's look at how we can apply these strategies to a one-to-one digital marketing campaign. Ground: Know the smallest things about your prospect and you will understand the largest. Know the smallest things about your prospect and you will understand the largest. Interpreted: Gather as much data as you can about what your (or your client's) prospect's buying habits have been traditionally, learn how they think, who they currently purchase from, when they will order again, even their favorite colors. Amassing data about your prospect will give you the necessary insight to plan, coordinate and control an effective marketing assault with fewer resources than your opponents. This data is will help you create the unique selling propositions needed in all marketing, but especially in one to one digital marketing, where you can change the offers and price points simply by segmenting the list and alternating the art and copy. Water: Water adapts its shape to that of its container. Water adapts its shape to that of its container. Interpreted: Present your offer specifically to solve the problem of each person and their particular needs as opposed to a static offer of one size fits all. Specifically, if you are a printer and you have a database of 100 print buyers, fashion your copy to include something about each buyer's particular industry, some of your current clients in that industry and how your experience in that particular industry will benefit them. With digital on demand, you can parse your list and indicate that "these 25 names get this copy and these photos, and these 21 names get this copy and those photos, etc. Merging is a variable data function of most digital printing systems and should be employed to construct more effective personalized messages. Use it wisely. Fire: Change your position quickly and adapt to the ever evolving opportunities. Change your position quickly and adapt to the ever evolving opportunities. Interpreted: use on-demand printing for its instantaneous ability to get your message out fast. Without the need to produce negatives, plates and time-consuming set ups, digital is the weapon of choice for today's savvy marketers. Imagine you are a chiropractor and you know that a snowstorm is heading into your area in two days. You create a postcard alerting your patients not to overexert themselves shoveling snow, but if they do to come in and see you for an adjustment. You mail the day before the snow hits and afterwards your patients visit you to get an adjustment. Wind: Know the ways of the other schools of thought. Know the ways of the other schools of thought. Interpreted: understanding as many methods of communication gives you a greater knowledge and a basis for comparison. Traditional offset printing is designed for static messages run in mass quantities. In most cases, the users never test their copy or price points so they don't really know if it is the best offer for their prospect will receive as compared to their competitions. This puts them at a disadvantage when competing with digital-on-demand. An on-demand warrior will test their offers several times in short, personalized targeted runs before they produce a final version. Even then, they will constantly test until they establish a productive baseline of results. This allows the on-demand user unrivaled success when building a sales cycle as compared to the ancient ways. Void: By knowing what exists, you can know what doesn't. By knowing what exists, you can know what doesn't. Interpreted: if you have the knowledge of digital-on-demand one-to-one marketing and your competition does not, you have the power to dominate the field of battle. Using the strategy of nature makes sense in the way on-demand personalized printing is used by companies to acquire and keep their clients. From the very instant a prospect is approached, through the sales cycle and into the CRM program, data is merged to initiate a powerful relationship with the client, something that cannot be accomplished with a static offer using traditional offset. Now that we have the theory, let's look at a program that makes use of all the elements as discussed above. Staying in Touch Not only must you get new clients, you must remember that your competition is always seeking to take them away. A progressive company stays in touch with their customers with every opportunity. Like an advancing army, it's not advisable to take territory that you can't hold. Not only must you get new clients, you must remember that your competition is always seeking to take them away. That's why the CRM program is of importance in marketing. It compliments the new business phase. One of my clients is a dental laboratory and by law, they can only market their services to dentists. The dentists understand the competitive nature of dental labs and pretty much have control over the labs in most states. My client is never going to compete on price as they have 35 years in the business and their pricing has escalated over that time. Their quality and service however, justifies the pricing. Knowing that the average cost of getting a lead in the dental industry is almost $600.00, but also knowing that each new dentist client potentially can generate thousands a month, enable me to spend around $70.00 to target a potential dental practice. Yes, I can buy a database, but I prefer to prospect by county by looking up my dental prospects in the yellow pages to see who is spending money on their advertising. I also can eliminate oral surgeons and endodontists as well as periodontists because they tend to network themselves to the general dentist for the restorations and therefore don't buy restorative products directly from a lab. Now that I have distilled my targets to around 60 practices, I plan my attack. I will have a special package containing food delivered to 10 dental practices on a Monday morning, every other Monday. My package will be personalized on the outside and the inside and contain a personalized message on the gift envelope and a card on the inside. The delivery person already knows that after the office manager takes the gift, she will confirm that the dentist takes a break at 11:30 and that would be an excellent time to call. The salesperson makes the call just to confirm that the dentist received the gift and to inquire what they think of it. Then, once a positive relationship is established an appointment can be made just to show samples and give the dentist another gift. Currently, we are running almost 80 percent response to this technique, and the client is seeing 7-8 dentists over a two week period after the initial delivery. The second gift is a free case to try the labs quality. The choice of a 3-unit bridge, a full denture or a porcelain fused to metal crown is offered at the time of the appointment. The client picks up an average of four new accounts off of this process. This controlled growth allows them to maintain quality control with their internal staffing and still service their current client base without too much added manpower. Over the past three years the dental lab has increased its sales by over 10 percent when most other labs in their county are off by almost 50 percent. Next, the CRM program kicks in with a monthly mailer offering specials. The data is provided with a breakdown of which dentist orders what product so we can offer them a discount for a product they don't normally order, allowing them to try additional services for the cost of under $2.50. We also keep track of birthdays and send out a special personalized package to the dentist on his or her birthday as well as special personalized holiday greetings. Over the past three years the dental lab has increased its sales by over 10 percent when most other labs in their county are off by almost 50 percent. Even better, their profitability has improved significantly because the cost of generating the new client dropped because of on-demand digital printing. Every business should approach their prospects in a friendly, positive manner to instill confidence and gain trust. Remember, most companies are already using a supplier, and they may or may not be happy with them. You won't find out until you get a face-to-face meeting. In most cases, the prospect wants to be sold and a salesperson must close the sale. If you have established a polished presentation, you will close more sales and generally eat better than the next salesperson. And, more importantly, your battles will be small. Sayonara.