How Fencing Can Teach Us A Lesson On Marketing

February 12, 2021

En garde. Prêt. Allez.

That’s the start of a fencing bout. It’s also how you should run your business.

For those of you who don’t know what fencing is, allow me to give a quick introduction. Fencing is a sport that is played with three distinct blades: sabre, foil, and épée. Each weapon has a special style of attacking the opponent and wielding it. There’s also a specific foot sequence you have to follow when fencing and that’s the beauty of it. Fencing is a sport that can teach you the importance of patience and aiming for a certain target. This can be translated to launching a new product line or startup. Not only that, but if you think hard enough, fencing can teach all of us a certain lesson, it doesn’t even have to be about marketing.

Take what I just said and try to imagine how fencing can fit into marketing. The weapons, the movement, the rules. Do you notice that each component of fencing is a certain set of things you need to know if you were doing marketing? Below, I’ve outlined my reasons why fencing can teach us a lesson on marketing.

Take the offensive: 

Sometimes business can be rough, and at times it seems the hardest thing to do is getting it off the ground. Don’t just freeze there on the piste (fencing playing area), move around even if it means you’ll lose! It’s always better to try something than stay in one position, the same could be said about a business. Don’t waste 5-6 months coming up with the “perfect” marketing strategy if you can execute 3-5 mini marketing campaigns in 1 month. Whenever I was in a fencing match, my coach always told me to take the lunge, when you have the priority. Make a calculated observation, but what’s stopping you from trying out something different?

If you’re a foilist (like me) do some stepping rhythm and then perform a flèche to penetrate your enemy. Like managing a business, sometimes it’s better if you can perform something extraordinary. For example, think of a guerrilla marketing campaign that can penetrate the market and catch your target market’s attention in one fell swoop.

Defensive: Another important component of fencing, or running a business, is the ability to know when you have to stop for a minute and reposition yourself. What you don’t want to get yourself into is a sticky situation where you’re cornered on the piste. Once you’re trapped, you can’t do anything else; Or can you? Fencing is all about opportunity. Business and marketing is about spotting a possibility and seizing that window of opportunity. If you feel that your marketing efforts aren’t working or your initial target isn’t your target audience after all, identify the right segment and reposition yourself. That’s the same for fencing, if you miss your strike, move back and reposition yourself before a counter attack.

In fencing, parrying is a staple to defending yourself and performing a riposte once you have the right-of-way. Managing a business is the same, it’s important to protect yourself at times and wait for the perfect timing. Once you see that chance, take the offensive. It’s important to take precautionary steps, but not to the point where you’re only defending. If you only defend, you’ll leave an opening for your opponent to lunge and take the point. You must strike that balance between offence and defence so you ensure your business or marketing campaign succeeds. If you ever find yourself stuck, it’s about finding an opportunity.

Look to the point of your blade and lunge.

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