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10 Marketing Lessons I Learned From the Israeli Army

by Uri Bar-Joseph  |  
July 1, 2013

Before I ventured into the exciting world of digital marketing, I had a short career with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). I don't tend to speak much of that time, but recently I found myself reflecting about some of the lessons I learned during my service and how they apply to my current role managing people as well as marketing campaigns.

1. Detailed planning is key

Before every mission, exercise, or even routine training, you spend hours if not days on planning, preparing for every scenario that might come up. But even if you can't prepare for every single scenario, spending that time on planning helps you react faster when unplanned scenarios do come up.

In a study we conducted about marketing "athletes" last year, we found that one of the key differences between the star marketers and the less successful ones was the time spent on planning. In general, star marketers spent almost four times more time on planning than the less successful marketers.


As a rule of thumb, you should spend at least 20% of your time on planning.

2. Situation analysis is the most important overlooked skill

I spent some time teaching cadets the basics of command and control, and the concepts of combat operation. During that time, I noticed that most plans and field operations failed because of overlooked elements in situation analysis. The terrain was not fully analyzed, the enemy's reserves were not taken into account, the political drivers were ignored... something in the initial and ongoing analysis had been overlooked.

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Uri Bar-Joseph is director of marketing at Optify, a Seattle-based software company that develops digital marketing software for agencies and B2B marketers. Uri has built Optify's lead generation and lead nurturing channels and processes, and developed its data-driven marketing approach.

Twitter: @uribarjoseph

LinkedIn: Uri Bar-Joseph

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  • by Rubens Turkienicz Mon Jul 1, 2013 via web

    Life as war again, Commander? How boring - were not for the fact that it destroys everything and everybody on its wake... Business MUST be beneficial for ALL involved, or else it benefits (just for a while) a minority - like your War Industry... Suggestion: please read some of Seth Godin's writings on serving others (aka as "marketing" in its original conception, no longer valid for people like yourself...) at: Wishing you and all of us only the best, sincerely!

  • by @jpatrickjobs Mon Jul 1, 2013 via web

    Great post, Uri. This connected a lot of the dots (and pain points) in our marketing effort. We struggle with consistency, discipline and follow-through, and you article clearly lays out some simple and effective strategies. We are Executive Recruiters for High Tech sales and marketing people (tons of ex-IDF/IAF customers!) and I've gleaned most of my marketing knowledge from my hiring VPs. Thanks!

  • by Pieter Rademeyer Mon Jul 1, 2013 via web

    Rubens, businesses that have leveraged many a strategy including those of war. Moreover, given that marketing should support a business strategy it is only logical that defence force strategies could be applied here as well. The analogies highlighted above I find are valid especially since the author has come from the Israeli defence force. Maybe if it were another defence force then you could scoff at it, but whether you like it or not the ratio of VC per capita comes from this country partly because of the way the military is structured. Read " the Startup Nation" (Dan Senor & Saul Singer) for some eye-watering stats, and no I have no ties or links or have ever been to Israel, simply stating the facts.

    Thanks Uri for the post.

  • by Jay Oza Mon Jul 1, 2013 via web


    This was a very good post. I just wrote a post that takes similar ideas but from the Navy SEALs. There is lot we can learn from these outfits that is applicable to marketing and sales.

  • by Gracious store Mon Jul 1, 2013 via web

    Good planning is the key to any successful venture including businesses/marketing. A every successful marketer need to make careful plan on how to run the business and even plan on how to handle unforeseen circumstances

  • by Nedra Weinreich (@Nedra) Tue Jul 2, 2013 via web

    Something I was expecting to see on this list is that Israeli officers do not send their troops ahead of them into battle, but are expected to lead the charge to set the example with the cry "Acharai!" (After me!). This is not marketing-specific, but is a great model for leadership in any business setting.

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