Marketing Strategy – What We Can Learn From The Queen’s Gambit

  • Author: Alistair O'Sullivan

If 2020 has given us anything, it’s the time to binge watch Netflix.

In its first 28 days, The Queen’s Gambit was watched by 62 million households, becoming the most popular limited series ever on Netflix.

While following the life of the orphan chess prodigy during her quest to become the world’s greatest chess player, we started to think – chess, like marketing, is a strategy game. 

The importance of strategy is no secret, but is often overlooked. The key to success is to think carefully about your next move, whilst also leaving room to improvise – you may be forced to sacrifice some pawns along the way, but sticking to your strategy can give you a tremendous advantage.

There is a huge amount we can learn from The Queens Gambit when it comes to developing a marketing strategy, mainly from how the strategy is laid out. Chess is split into 3 key areas; Openings, Middle Game and the Endgame, and much like a marketing strategy it’s important to study, research and plan for each.



Beth Harmon, superstar chess prodigy within the Queens Gambit, is known as a tremendously strong opener, taking down opponents in under half the amount of moves allocated. 

If you really want to smash your marketing, it’s vital you open with your best foot forward and lead from the front. Not only does this put you ahead of the competition, but it ensures that your middle and endgame strategy is set up the best it can be…increasing the overall effectiveness. 

Whilst this is the first step a business should take and arguably the most important, it’s often the one that is most commonly overlooked. 


Your opening is your time to research. Understanding absolutely everything there is to know about you, your company, your market and your position within it. Leave no stone unturned and do as much as you possibly can, even if you feel like it’s not relevant at this moment in time. Key areas to research are:

  • Brand perception
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats) analysis
  • Competitors
  • Customer profiles/demographics
  • Your customer buying cycle
  • Your selling cycle


Having a strong opener in chess sets up your game and puts you in the strongest possible position moving forwards. This is exactly the case for your marketing strategy…do the leg work at the beginning and everything else will fall into place nicely. 


Middle Game

So you’ve flown out the starting gates with a fantastic opener. You’ve put yourself in a strong position by allocating time researching, understanding and documenting everything there is to know about you, your market and your competition.

What now? What do you do with all of that work?

This is where your middle game comes into play. Taking what you’ve learnt and applying it to the world around you in order to come up with the best possible plan. 


There are as many different marketing vertices than there are chess pieces on a chess board. Do you use Online? Offline? Inbound? Outbound? The list goes on…

Understanding exactly which type of marketing you want to use is how you apply what you’ve learnt in your opener. How your competition operates, what you want to achieve and what the market is telling you will lead you in the right direction.


In a game of chess, it is useless to make moves simply in response to your opponents – this gives them complete control over the game. It’s the same with marketing…you have to understand and have a reason behind every single action to enable you to be proactive, and therefore more effective.

It’s all well and good saying that you’re going to use SEO (for example), but what does that look like? What strategy are you going to implement for that particular strategy? This is your opportunity to develop those micro-strategies that fit within the overall marketing strategy. 



SPOILER ALERT – Beth Harmon’s Endgame strategy isn’t the strongest part of her game, she relies on the fact that she’ll beat the competition before she gets to that stage. 

We can’t afford to do that within our marketing strategy. Our Endgame is just as important as our opener, and the same amount of care and attention needs to be applied. 

We’ve done our research, we know what verticals we want to use, now it’s time for our Endgame to tell us exactly how we’re going to implement it. 


Setting yourself realistic goals and KPI’s enables you to measure your success accurately, either putting more effort into certain aspects, improving others, and potentially dropping parts completely. Ask yourself; what do I want to achieve? When do I want to achieve it by? What metric can I use to determine success?


Having a marketing strategy looks fantastic on paper, but too often it sits in a draw and nothing is done with it. Setting yourself a timeline with actionable points in forces you to implement what you have written, and tells your team exactly what you need from them to make it happen.


The hardest part by far in the whole marketing strategy…setting a budget. Remember, like Beth Harmon does throughout the whole of her career, nothing is set in stone. As the game develops so will your strategy, and in turn so will your budget. Setting a realistic cost at this stage however puts things into perspective and gives you something to work towards.  


The Queen’s Gambit is an office favourite at Diony, so if you haven’t watched it already…what are you doing? Go and watch it!

And if you haven’t got a marketing strategy already for your business, or you feel like the one you have needs a bit of an upgrade, give us a call.


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