What is predatory thinking? And how can it help you produce killer strategy?

Peter Winter, Performance Consultant at Tomorrow People, says that there are two stages to producing a strategy. First: you need to understand the problem. Then, thinking like a predator can produce the solution.

I was recently at an SEO conference in Brighton where one speaker in particular stood out, for me, from the rest. He was Dave Trott, Executive Creative Director at CSTTG.

Dave spoke about a wide range of topics including creativity, standing out from the crowd, targeting opinion formers and more, but one topic in particular resonated with me: “Predatory Thinking.”

Predatory Thinking - Welcome a New Breed of Marketers

Predatory Thinking: Thinking strategically and creatively to outmanoeuvre the competition, to give yourself the advantage while others are standing still. Or, perhaps more simply, turning a problem you can’t solve into one you can.

Now, you should be asking yourself: “How do you change a problem you can’t solve into one you can?” Let me share with you an example from the talk.

Hunting ‘Outside the Box’

Ad agency AMV.BBDO were asked to pitch a TV campaign for Sainsbury’s. The goal of the campaign was to the point – an additional £3billion in revenue needed be generated over a two year period.

Naturally, when planning the campaign, the questions being asked where the obvious ones: “How can we generate an extra £3 billion?” “How many more customers do we need?” and so on. However, one of the team decided to flip the discussion on its head…

“I’ve been doing some calculations. We don’t need new customers at all. If we get every existing customer to spend an additional £1.85 every time they visit, then we’ll hit our revenue target.”

Immediately the focus shifted from how to generate new customers to getting existing customers to spend more. After much discussion, “Try Something New Today” was proposed. You may have seen it – British TV chef Jamie Oliver was the face of the campaign.

The £3 billion revenue that was required was delivered in one year – twelve months earlier than the allocated time scale.

A better mousetrap

The bright spark at AMV.BBDO realised that it would be much easier to influence the existing customer base than to go after new ones. By changing the prey, the agency made the hunt a lot more likely to succeed. The single biggest challenge — getting the customer through the door — was already out of the way.

Can Predatory Thinking Work for You?

Predatory thinking can be applied to online marketing, for example:

Search Engine Optimisation

Looking to convert more leads via organic search? Instead of trying to get more traffic, why not look at reducing bounce rates and increasing conversions with existing traffic?

Content Marketing

Blog low on comments and interaction? Increasing the readership probably isn’t the best solution. Look at your current readers – are they opinion formers? Is the content pitched right for them to get involved?

To sum up, here’s Dave Trott’s explanation of Predatory Thinking:

“To produce a strategy is to understand the problem, and then formulate a way to solve that problem. The problem should be defined and the success translated into an objective. Once you have the goal and the problem you can then use predatory thinking to create a solution that fixes the problem, which then produces success. I think this is what strategy truly is… and not the bumfluff that gets passed around.”

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