Put “70 Percent Solution” & Rapid Fielding Concepts into Go-to-Market Toolbox



Business teams often struggle to achieve marketplace action, whether it’s new products or services, changes to their customer offerings or even basic sales materials.

One limiting factor may be a sort of impossible quest for perfection.  That’s why I’ve come to embrace the philosophy of seeking excellence.

I was reminded of this when reading that the US Department of Defense has a division called Rapid Fielding.  Yes, there is a “Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Rapid Fielding” in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering.  It’s intriguing because while US armed forces are rightfully known for many great things, rapid weapons development and deployment are not high on the list.

“The Rapid Fielding mission is to identify, develop, demonstrate, assess & rapidly field innovative concepts and technologies that supply critical capabilities to meet time-sensitive operational needs.”

Rapid Fielding was neatly summarized by reporter Julian E. Barnes in The Wall Street Journal: 

“The rapid-fielding office is in large measure trying to follow the guidance of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who argued that too many defense-acquisition projects spent too much trying to develop a perfect weapon. Instead, Mr. Gates argued, the Pentagon should try to focus on cheaper technologies that offered “70% solutions.””



There’s a lot for business leaders to take from the 70 percent solution concept, which comes from the US Marine Corps.

“Everyone is always looking for the perfect truth, but you never have it.  Even if you did have it, the other guy is up to something, so by the time you execute it your truth isn’t perfect anymore.” (Colonel Thomas Moore, quoted in Corps Business – The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines by David H. Freedman). Continue reading

Challenge the Status Quo

How important are differentiating go-to-market strategies and tactics in your marketing plan?

If you’re not experimenting with and testing new ways to impact and persuade your customers, get started.  Such tactics can set you apart from your competitors, especially those that don’t directly impact price.  To jumpstart your thinking, here are four examples I’ve noted in just the past two weeks, including one from outside the business world:

1.  Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) – Refresh the Customer Experience

The LPGA is in disarray.  The number of official tour events fell from from 34 to 28 in 2009 and total prize money has also declined.  In July, after a player revolt, the commissioner was forced to resign.  Times are tough for the lady golfers.  Maybe they need some new ideas?

Golf Balls - IStock

Enter controversial LPGA rookie and model Anna Rawson, who’s employing a wide range of marketing approaches to build her career, and was recently featured in an ESPN E:60 profile.  The Australian detailed a number of new ideas on how to revitalize the tour with ESPN.com,  including this one:

“ROCK THE TEE:  Every player should tee off to her favorite song at the beginning of the tournament and have it played again when she approaches the 18th green.  Major League Baseball teams play music as batters approach the plate and it’s great.  Fans connect with players for their music and it builds anticipation. I don’t think our golfers would have a problem with this because nowadays who doesn’t practice with their iPod on?  Plus, it would help me on the tee; the forced quiet is nerve-racking, so hearing music will help break the tension.”


2.  Alexander’s Steakhouse – BYOB to Drive Sales

Steak consumption in restaurants is down.  In fact, some of the best cuts of beef such as USDA Prime are ending up in the club channel and supermarkets due to the decreased demand.  So, what can restaurants do during these difficult economic times to boost traffic?  How about making it easier to enjoy some wine with your meal?

Alexander’s Steakhouse in Springfield, Illinois is now advertising a “ZERO Wine Bottle Corkage Fee!” offer to induce traffic.  Many have decried the often inflated margins for on-premise wine, so providing a cost-effective solution to enjoy your favorite red with a great steak may be a winning idea.  Yes, the restaurant won’t make any money on the wine.  But if the table is empty, they won’t make any money, period!

Alexander's Steakhouse


3.  Metropolitan Police Department – Leverage Resources for Results

Crime, especially murder, is a problem in the nation’s capital, but Chief of Police Cathy Lanier has seen the recent numbers drop.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier

Fortunately, most marketing and business challenges aren’t life and death situations.  However, figuring out how to get the most out of existing resources is a challenge we can all relate to.

Chief Lanier has taken a new approach to leverage the police resources in Washington, D.C. since assuming the top spot in January 2007.  One of her techniques to fight crime and build rapport with the local community is a periodic program called All Hands on Deck, which puts all available police on the street for a specific, short period of time.  It’s a different way to deploy resources to achieve results.

The department posted the results of its latest effort on its Web site.  For forty-eight hours beginning at 6 am Friday July 24th, “all available sworn MPD personnel were on patrol throughout the District emphasizing community policing, focused law enforcement and community outreach.  Officers closed one homicide, made nearly 500 arrests, seized more than $30,000 in crack, cocaine, PCP, and marijuana, and took seven guns off the streets.”

Interesting note:  the department is even on Facebook!

4.  Miller Lite – Add Benefits with Packaging

Attention couch potatoes:  the bar is coming to you this football season.  MillerCoors is testing a new draft beer product that provides tap taste in the comfort of your  home.  The company is testing a home draft system that stores upright in the refrigerator and stays fresh for thirty days.

Miller Lite

MillerCoors CMO Andy England told The Wall Street Journal that the target is beer drinkers who prefer draft to bottles or cans, which is thirty percent, with a further occasion-based targeting parameter.  He explained, “We’re really trying to meet that occasion when you just got back from work and want to reward yourself,” rather than “the party occasion.”

It’s a cool packaging idea, especially if the concept delivers on the taste and consumers are willing to pay an up-charge.  Time will tell, especially on the “reward” targeting.


Unless you do it better, don’t rely on the same go-to-market strategies and tactics that everyone else is doing within your industry.  Instead, focus efforts to outthink and outsmart the competition.  Challenge your team and agency partners to devise impactful ways to achieve your marketing objectives.  How can your goods and services provide a superior customer experience?  How can you compete beyond price?  How can packaging bring new benefits to your consumers?  How can you better deploy existing resources to achieve your mission?  Shake it up with fact-based analysis, excellent ideas, the confidence to try something different, and superb execution to win in your market.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.