Terrorist Bin Laden Offers Marketing Class for American Business People

Some shameless self-promotion: The latest bin Laden tape demonstrates the marketing techniques that have made Al Qaeda into one of the best known brands in the world. My new book due out in February but available now via our website, called “Warrior Marketing”, explores how the methods of war and marketing are coming together in the 21st century. As I was researching and writing my book on terrorism, it became clear to me that business people had a lot to learn from the marketing techniques used by Al Qaeda.

Corruption in Government

In a survey on our website, 77% of the repondents believed that corruption was better served by smaller, less regulatory government rather than more regulation. Government corruption is an on-going story in government, almost a tradition in second presidential terms (though Clinton's Congressional scandal was in 1992). A simple strategic analysis tells us that the problems grow worse given greater concentrations of power. The nexus of money and government regulation inhereing Indian tribal gambling created "a perfect storm" situation where corruption was perhaps inevitable .

Modern Works on Strategy

A reader asks:
Sun Tzu is the best book on strategy. But which modern works on strategy do you find of interest? Thank you.
Of course, there are a lot of modern works that use the word "strategy" in their titles without any clue as to what Sun Tzu's strategy is or how it works. However, there are several modern works that deal with strategy in a fairly classical way, but they tend to be narrowly focused on specific areas. Most don't really teach strategy as much as they demonstrate its use.

Open Situations and Spread Out Positions

This article at Tech Central makes the point that Al Qaeda has estaliblished a "brand name" in the media, but that it can't protect that brand. In strategic terms, the brand of Al Qaeda terrorism is "open territory" where whoever makes the most progress the fastest in fact will own the brand. Osama Bin Laden was the brand at first, but today Zarqawi owns it. However, a brand is not only a territory, it is a position. When a brand is open territory, it become an spread-out position as many organizations claim leadership. Spread-out positions are inherently weak, as openings between its parts (such as Zarqawi's and Kawahiri's) create opportunities for opponents. Link was sent by Will Brown, makes this point:
The media as a counter offensive tool? Simply put, by flooding the information avenue's (web, print, broadcast) with competing messages and appeals for support, a power could seriously dilute a terrorist groups appearance of effectiveness at the least. Such would have to be credably done, of course, although even such efforts becoming common knowledge would have an overall delitrious effect, I think. Doing so as a domestic action would be troubling (to put it mildly), but seem worthwhile for clearly identifiable foreign threats.

Our Biggest Mistake in Iraq

Strategy teaches that you get the best information from listening to real live people, not reading and not watching the news. This lesson gets strengthened for me every time I get a chance to spend a few minutes discussing the War on Terror with someone from the Middle East. While I have read (and written) a lot about the area, culture, and history, it seems like I get a lot more insight from even a few minutes of conversation. The reason? Because I can ask question to clarify things that are fuzzy for me. We can’t ask questions of a book or a television.

Accurate Information from the Mainstream Media

All strategy, like all economics, is based on information. The more accurate your information, the better the various techniques of strategy work, but strategy assumes that everyone's information is incomplete. The biggest change affecting strategy in the recent years is the new access to information afforded by the Internet. For most of my life, I had to depend on mainstream media reporting about conditions in the larger environment. In the last several years, we all have begun discovering how flawed and incomplete the view provided by MSM is.

Is the Increasing Cost of Regulation a Future Political Issue?

The positions of the political parties on government regulation of the private sector once seemed clear. Democrats were for it and Republicans were against it. Clinton tried to change that perception by reforming welfare, but the increased pace of government regulation under Bush has really opened this issue up for the anti-Republican forces. According to this article by Susan Dudley:
Since 2000, the regulators' budget has grown an amazing 46 percent, after adjusting for inflation.


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