It’s the year 57 B.C., Caesar’s marching on Belgic Gaul with eight legions to face the Nervians, one of the most powerful Gaul tribes. Apparently, Caesar doesn’t see a risk for his legions during their arrival march, however, an unexpected betrayal is about to take place.
In Caesar’s words:
… And as a great many of the surrounding Belgae and other Gauls, following Caesar, marched with him; some of these, having accurately observed, during those days, the army’s method of marching, went by night to the Nervii, and informed them that a great number of baggage-trains passed between the several legions, and that there would be no difficulty, when the first legion had come into the camp, and the other legions were at a great distance, to attack that legion while under baggage…
…Caesar, having sent his cavalry on before, followed close after them with all his forces; but the plan and order of the march was different from that which the Belgae had reported to the Nervii. For as he was approaching the enemy, Caesar, according to his custom, led on [as the van six legions unencumbered by baggage; behind them he had placed the baggage- trains of the whole army; then the two legions which had been last raised closed the rear, and were a guard for the baggage-train..
What followed was the Battle of The Sabis, a battle that was supposed to be a fast and easy win for the Nervians evaporated into another Roman victory. What was the key? A process, a finely tuned process. Romans developed several methods and processes used to organize every single detail in their military strategy.
There are 2 important lessons to be learned from Caesar’s marching strategy:
- They designed a special order for the march to be used when approaching the enemy, perhaps due to a previous failure.
- This process was designed to maintain a competitive advantage even in unexpected situations, and that’s what enabled Caesar to face Nervians’ attack with six legions in front instead of only one.
Back to XXI century, before launching Kompyte, one of our most loyal clients in our web development agency had faced a massive and unexpected drop in sales of about 30% in just one week. Desperate for an explanation, he called us to check if there had been any changes within the Adwords campaigns, but everything was still the same as the previous week.
It was days later that, thanks to one of his customers, he discovered that one of his direct competitors updated a banner offering free shipping. In a mature, price-competitive marketplace, this unexpected update took a big bite out of his weekly sales. At the time, he had more than 30 active competitors and no process to track their activity, so he took a loss of about $15.000 in only 5 days.
As a response, we developed what became the MVP to Kompyte and designed a special plan to make sure that sneak attack never happened to him again. Currently, he’s investing only 5 minutes a day in a process to track his competitors’ activity, and now, every time one of them is launching a new promotion, he’s responding to it immediately.
After 6 months using Kompyte with a simple and repeatable process, he has responded proactively to more than 20 unexpected promotions from competitors and kept his company’s revenue growing month over month.
What about you? How are you tuning your processes to keep on top of your competition? Are you Caesar or are you predictable?