CEO of companies often mean by strategic planning, development of new models of products and improve their quality. As a result, all plans are built around the development of their own enterprises. Jack Trout, one of the marketing gurus, believes this approach is fundamentally wrong. To achieve breakthrough results, in his opinion, it is necessary to focus on the strategy of competition no less than on improving one's own range of goods and services.
Al Rice, co-author of the marketing concept of positioning, in collaboration with J. Trout has published a fundamental work, where he compared marketing with methods of warfare. This comparison has reduced all the means of struggle in the market to four strategies of marketing wars.
This strategy can only be effectively used by large companies that own the largest part of the market. The goal of any defense is to prevent the enemy from breaking through the established lines. A marketing defense strategy consists of several basic principles and conditions.
Adequate Leadership Principle
The defensive position is the privilege of the former. You need to constantly question this belief about your own company. Often the founders themselves or the media advertise projects as leaders for a variety of reasons - best quality, great ideas, innovative production methods.
None of this makes a company a leader. Only the consumer can do this. Someone who has won the trust of the majority of buyers in the market can use a defense strategy. The ability to adequately assess your market share is the only way not to make a mistake in choosing a strategy.
The principle of attacking yourself
Even if a company has captured the lion's share of the market, there is always the danger of an attack from competitors. The larger the fortress, the longer the line of defense with many strong and weak areas, the more chances you are not to notice the place where the enemy can "dig".
Continuous monitoring of weak points is the first step towards identifying and fixing those areas where an attack by competitors is possible. Each new product should make the previous line obsolete, less prestigious. In this case, non-price competition with earlier models loses all meaning.
Strong blocking principle
The market leader is always susceptible to attacks from new players. When there are many such attacks, it is necessary to allocate a resource aimed at working in a competitive environment. The temptation is strong, first of all, to repel the attack of weak opponents - they seem to be "easy prey".
This is where the mistake lies - weak price competition can cause the least damage. But the comprehensive efforts to neutralize it are comparable to the measures to block a pair of strong opponents. In addition, small companies often offer tougher resistance, as they are fighting for existence, and not for one of the markets.
As Rice and Trout point out, offensive action is defensive, but with the rules turned inside out. Attacking principles should be used by large companies that occupy a significant market share. The goal of this strategy is to oust the leader from his position and consolidate his organization in the first position in terms of market coverage.
The principle of reducing the share of the leader
For those occupying the second position, it is advisable not to disperse attention to the competition in their “own league”, but to concentrate on reducing the market leader's share. By hitting once and getting a share of the higher sales, the company will make more profits than by exploring several minor sales markets. Briefly, this principle can be formulated as follows: watch out for those who are in front, and not for those who are nearby.
Achilles heel principle
Attacking a leader head-on is a bad decision because he has a lot of resources to gain a competitive advantage. But any defensive structure has flaws. In a large structure, there will be non-priority areas with which you can compete and which the leader will not actively defend. It is necessary to find such a weak spot in the line or structure of the flagship and attack it with all your resources.
Narrow front principle
It is preferable to attack the leader by offering an alternative to a single product or service. A complete assortment is a leader's privilege. Even if the second issue has several offensive options, they should be carried out sequentially, with narrow fronts, as close as possible to a single product.
Flank attack strategy
For leaders of large companies, attack and defense are understandable and natural actions. The leader tends to defend himself, the rest - to attack him. A flank attack is a non-standard and effective method of competitive struggle. As Jack Trout points out, this is a challenging yet effective way to win a massive, spectacular victory.
The principle of attacking neutral territory
A well-thought-out flanking offensive should be directed at the still undeveloped territory, including at weak positions. These are the positions where the competitor has not yet secured its product in the consumer's mind as an object of natural choice.
A flank offensive does not necessarily involve the release of a new product or service that is not yet on the market. It is enough to introduce a certain element of exclusivity into an existing product without the promise of low prices. You need to convince the consumer that an existing product is something new on the market.
The principle of tactical surprise
A surprise to the enemy should be an integral part of the flanking plan. In case of a surprise attack, there are no goals and methods that are obvious to the enemy; he cannot predict them in advance. The hulking giant takes more time to repel such an attack. The main resources of the leader are concentrated on protecting only those products for which competitors have well-known developments.
The principle of securing success
Without the use of consolidation tactics, it is impossible to obtain a serious result even after a brilliant offensive. Many companies, temporarily taking a leading position, calm down and do not fight further, redirect resources to other tasks. This is a serious flanking mistake. The recaptured positions need to be strengthened and developed, which will force the competitor to consider this segment unpromising over time.
In many wars of the recent past, the guerrilla movement has had a significant impact on the course of the military conflict. Despite the small number of scattered resistance groups, they managed to deliver a lot of trouble to well-armed and trained regular armies.
In business, guerrilla warfare has a certain stock of advantages. Small companies use these methods. This allows them to survive and develop in the territory traditionally occupied by corporations and big brands.
Find a small market segment that is easy to protect. This may be due to the characteristics of the territory or the specific preferences of local residents. There can be any features, the main thing is that it would be unprofitable for a large company to move to lower prices or create a separate brand to serve such an insignificant market.
The guerrilla seeks to choose or create a battlefield in which the fight becomes an unprofitable activity for the leader. The goal is to become the only player in a small area that no one cares about.
The principle of real assessment of forces
No matter how successful a guerrilla is, you shouldn't think of yourself as a leader. In large companies, almost half of the staff provides services to employees of the same company, not to clients. Some employees of such corporations may never see their customers or competitors.
Guerrillas can exploit this vulnerability: virtually all of their workers must be on the front lines, in constant contact with clients. Until a company has reached the level of a market leader, the temptation to create an expensive organizational structure must be resisted. For a small firm, organizational and representation costs should be kept to a minimum.
You need to be ready to wind up a business or part of it at any time. A company that can quickly stop production has a better chance of being reborn in another area, launching a new product, or moving to a different location. If a major player is involved in a battle for local clients, direct clashes should be avoided. It would be cheaper and safer to drop a position and find a new niche.
This mobility and flexibility is an advantage for small companies. A partisan more often than a major player manages to painlessly occupy a new sales market.
In a competitive war, strategies are used that are essentially similar to the real methods of conducting military operations. This comparison allows the leader to choose the appropriate means of fighting. Given the realities of today's marketplace, most companies must employ guerrilla tactics. As Jack Trout points out, out of 100 firms only one should defend, two should attack, three should use flanking operations, and the remaining 94 should be guerrilla and hope for future success.