Marketing Strategy – Sun Tzu on Terraine


Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground:

(1) Dispersive ground – When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground;

(2) Facile ground – When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground;

(3) Contentious ground – Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side, is contentious ground; (4) Open ground – Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground;

(5) Ground of intersecting roads – Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states, so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command, is a ground of intersecting highways;

(6) Serious ground – When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear, it is serious ground;

(7) Difficult ground – Mountain forests, rugged steeps, marshes and fens–all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground;

(8) Hemmed-in ground – Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground;

(9)Desperate ground – Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground

On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not. On facile ground, halt not. On contentious ground, attack not. On open ground, do not try to block the enemy’s way. On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies. On serious ground, gather in plunder. In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march. On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem. On desperate ground, fight.

“Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.


Dr Brian

CEO The Centre for Market Development –

Twitter @smartamarketing!/smartamarketing

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3 thoughts on “Marketing Strategy – Sun Tzu on Terraine

  1. I lovel Chinese stratagems, most of them reflect the realities of ancient times when war tactics were well thought and implemented.

    “Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief” – a good one…

  2. This is really a wonderful blog, would you be interested in making time for an interview regarding just how you made it? If so e-mail me personally!

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