Marketing Warfare

In honor of ending that little event in Iraq ... let's talk about military strategy in relation to your business.

Marketing peaked in 1985 when Al Ries and Jack Trout released the marketing bestseller: Marketing Warfare. I don't like the negative military term... but it helps to admit that the competitive environment is tough and requires serious tactics and a "do or die" attitude.

If you haven't read Marketing Warfare, you can buy it HERE

These are the guys that wrote The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - the best foundation of thought and attitude for any business person in every department.

Here is an overview inspired by Quick MBA that uses all the military jargon you need...

Ries and Trout list the following three principles of guerrilla marketing warfare:

Identify a segment that is small enough to defend. For example, the scope can be limited geographically, demographically, by industry, or by price.

Never act like the leader,even if successful in the guerrilla attack. Some companies that make a guerrilla move are successful in it and begin to act like the leader, building a larger, bureaucratic organization that slows it down and increases overhead costs. A guerrilla should resist the temptation to give up its lean and nimble organization.

Be ready to enter or exit on short notice. If the market for the product takes a negative turn, the guerrilla should exit quickly rather than waste resources. Because the guerrilla has a nimble organization, it is better able to make a quick exit without suffering huge losses. Similarly, the guerrilla can respond more quickly to a market opportunity without spending months or years having committees analyze it. Guerrilla opportunities sometimes arise when a large company discontinues a product, leaving a gap on which the guerrilla firm can capitalize if it acts quickly.

The idea of guerrilla marketing is to direct resources into a limited area, using the principle of force to win that area.

Examples of geographic guerrillas include local retailers who win customers with offerings better tailored to the locale compared to the offerings of national chains. Locally-tailored city business publications are an example that fill a need that cannot be filled by a national publication such as the Wall Street Journal. Banks and airlines also have used a limited geographic scope successfully.

Demographic guerrillas target a specific demographic segment of the populuation. Inc. magazine is an example that targets small business owners who were not well served by publications such as Business Week.

Industry guerrillas target a specific industry, using vertical marketing to tailor a product to the special needs of that industry. The focus is narrow and deep rather than broad and shallow.

Product guerrillas offer a unique product for which there is a small market. The Jeep is an example of such a product.

High-end guerrillas offer a premium high-priced product. Rolls-Royce is a guerrilla in very high-priced automobiles. Because the volume is small and Rolls-Royce already has the lead, other manufacturers are deterred from competing directly. The high price creates a mystique about the product and raises the curiosity of consumers who seek to find out what makes the product so special that it commands such a high price. Line extensions of the main product do not work well here; high-end products should have a new name in order to establish a new position that is not diluted by the position of other products.

Alliances often are instrumental in a guerrilla strategy. In certain industries such as hotels, creating a brand that independents can join has been a successful strategy for many. A critical question when forming alliances is who the competitor is. Ries and Trout use the example of two motels across the street from one another on a resort island. On the surface it might appear that they are each other's competitors. Another way to view the situation is that they are allies attempting to attract tourists to their island rather than another resort island. An alliance might be more beneficial to the two motels than direct competition with one another.

For most companies, guerrilla marketing is the appropriate strategy simply because in most industries only a small percentage of firms are large enough to pursue defensive, offensive, or flanking strategies.

Be careful out there.