Plays are everywhere. Like the mobile signals that saturate our wireless world, they engulf us.
Whether as consumers of marketed products and services or as marketers of the products and services we consume, plays are the currency of every developed society where communications, social media, marketing, sales, politics and information warfare operate. So it’s only logical that the management and execution of plays should be thought of as a discipline. Let’s call it what it is: Influence Strategy. Because whether as friends, foes or fence-sitters, we are all at once the topic and topics of plays.
Every organization and every person runs plays to improve their position in busy marketplaces. Some do it for competitive advantage. Some do it for mutual benefit. Some do it well. Some try to avoid it. Some do it directly. Some use surrogates. Some run one play at a time. Some run many all at once. Almost all do so on instinct, and few with the support of stated objectives, policies and augmenting research.
Whether as soaring rhetoric, like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, or nervy deeds, like the lone Chinese dissident taunting the tanks of Tiananmen Square, influence strategies are the bridges that take us from what we wish would happen to what we do to get it. Every advertisement is constructed and explained by influence strategy. So is every sales pitch, political ploy, marketing blitz, social media salvo, activist attack, and legal brief. So is every Al-Jazeera audio recording, every utterance on state-run Chinese TV, every message board quip and jihadi video post. Every effort whose core motivation is to prod, position or persuade, whether as a collaboration or competition, is based on and executed through influence strategy.
If you run plays — and who doesn’t — you are a practitioner in the discipline of influence strategy.