I believe most of the elite marketers today view their businesses and brands as a continuing war between their company and brand(s) over market share, territory, resources, customer experiences, customer’s minds, mobilizing talent and loyalty.
In an age of unprecedented abundance of choice, innovation, speed, disruption, customers’ experience and expectations are moving faster than businesses. Additionally, while incremental change is essential today, it’s no longer sufficient. The best marketers today understand they must make bold and innovate moves to keep ahead of customers and competitors in this digital age.
Importantly, the most aggressive and successful companies like: Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Mercedes, Uber, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. – brutally fight to win and gain greater market share than at any other time in history.
This is because marketing today is fought on a range of ‘fronts’ including: TV, Radio, Print/Press, Telephone, Direct Marketing, CRM, and Mobile PLUS, all things Digital.
I have had the opportunity to work in the: US, England, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan and many other major countries around the globe whose only strategic intent was the annihilation of their competitors.
However, I believe with todays’ accelerating costs of salespeople and increasing costs of wholesale/retail distribution, this has also induced more companies to fight to the death to become the most cost-effective and cost-efficient business in the US and worldwide.
Importantly, this battle is fought across a wide variety of fields and arenas including: travel, financial services, publishing, charities, politics, FMCG, automotive, hotels, hospitality, travel, and more.
THE ANALOGY BETWEEN MILITARY & MARKETING STRATEGIES AND SITUATIONS
The best and smartest marketers today, realize that there was a vast knowledge of good strategic planning, stretching back thousands of years, that needed to be carefully examined. That’s where military strategies come into the ‘marketing battlefield’.
Some of the best known Military Strategy books include: The Art of War by Sun Tzu, On War by von Clausewitz, and The Little Red Book by Mao Zedong became business classics.
Having worked globally for over three plus decades, I have discovered that – if you can build your brand to become a leader, and get to the top, it’s far easier to use your leadership power to stay on top and capitalize on your force and scale!
From top international marketers, to President Trump and even today’s more successful start-ups – they have all learned some awesome military strategies from Sun Tzu. In fact, all have learned the tactical side of military strategy and specific tactics that make the biggest immediate impact.
In preparing for battle, Sun Tzu said, “Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits an enemy is at ease, he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary.” This also applies to today’s savvy marketers!
Sun Tzu, was one of the most influential Chinese military generals and Taoist philosophers, and importantly, he also explained the importance of looking within to defeat negativity and mental anguish that creeps into existence.
LAND GRAB & FIRST- MOVER ADVANTAGE
From my earliest days in San Francisco in 1999, I witnessed why the business strategists always used the mantra “first-mover advantage” and, it is still critical to the success of today’s most dominate Unicorns and businesses.
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who also stressed the “moral” and political aspects of war. The best and smartest marketers and leaders have learned the dynamic and unpredictable nature of military strategy. He felt that in a situation of chaos and confusion, strategy should be based on flexible principles. Strategy comes not from formula or rules of engagement, but from adapting to what he called “friction” (minute by minute events).
Mao Zedong also implemented the principles of guerrilla warfare. Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. That’s why some of today’s best marketers use Guerrilla marketing strategies to attack the bigger brands to win market share.
In fact, having worked in San Francisco since the dot com days, I have consistently seen startups and small brands launching since 1999 – using their speed, scrappy, unconventional and unorthodox marketing approach to attempt to compete against the industry giants.
WARFARE VS MARKETING – TERMS OF REFERENCE
- Warfare | Marketing
- Enemy | Competition
- Territory | Market share
- Weapons | Marketing Mix
- Warring Sides | Competitive Brands
MARKETING TODAY IS WARFARE
In marketing and advertising over the last couple of decades, leading companies, brands and agencies have used the analogies of war when talking about marketing online, offline and with integrated advertising.
Importantly, the analogy between marketing and warfare is used because, it is a highly effective way to understand how underlying strategies can make a massive impact on market share. Especially as they relate to business objectives, marketing objectives, target markets, overcoming consumer resistance and using social media and TV/Video as instruments of persuasion.
WARFARE STRATEGIES CAN BE USED TODAY TO DELIVER MORE EFFECTIVE BUSINESS & MARKETING PLANS…
Just as weapons have been used for centuries, so has our ability to resist them. And, our media and marketing have continually had to adapt to the needs of new products, new customers and new markets!
Above all, today’s marketing methods must account for the changing margins and mathematics of products/services and ultimately improving our effectiveness because smart companies know the cost of salesmen and transport has risen dramatically.
The hand-to-hand combat of the salesman with the individual customer, and the barrage of expensive mainstream advertising have truly accelerated the targeted, one to one approach that is most successful today.
In the advertising and marketing world today, Guerrilla marketing tends to be looked down upon by old-school advertisers or, viewed as inferior to more traditional strategies of promotion. I, however, have a deep love for all forms of marketing and promotion and as long as it is cost-effective, cost-efficient and builds brand loyalty.
Here are four strategies that companies and brands should follow in 2020 in business and politics to win:
- Offensive Strategy– A strong competitor to the market leader should look at offensive strategies – Attack the leader to gain ground.
American Express has always been a good offensive strategist. The key points for the offensive strategist:
* The challenger’s primary concern should be the strength of the leader’s position. Yes, the offensive player should look at all aspects, including its own strengths and weaknesses, but the primary focus is to understand the key strength of the leader.
* The challenger should look for a weakness in the leader’s strength.
* Attack on as narrow a front as possible. The challenger should not look at a broad attack.
- Defensive Strategy– Market leaders should follow defensive strategies to guard their position – lessen risk of being attacked, decrease effects of attacks, strengthen position. The key points for the defensive game:
* Only the true market leader should consider playing defense. The market leader has to ensure that the competitors sniping at it are kept at bay.
* The best strategy is the courage to attack yourself. The market leader should never rest on past successes but should constantly look at improving the existing product offering or introducing newer ones. Gillette, for example, plays a great defensive game by launching new products that make its existing ones obsolete.
* Strong competitive moves should always be blocked. Obviously, if competitive moves are not blocked effectively, it will give the competition time and space to entrench itself.
- Flanking Strategy– Players who are No.3 or 4 should be looking at flanking strategies. They should operate in areas of little importance to the main competitors. Marketing high priced, niche products could be a good flanking strategy.
* A good flanking move must be made into an uncontested area. Ideally, a flanker should look at a totally new category that the top two players have not looked at seriously.
* Tactical surprise ought to be an important element in the plan. Surprise is important because it would delay the leader to launch an immediate attack with its immense resources.
* The pursuit is as critical as the attack itself. The follow through to the launch is critical to establish the first mover advantage. Not doing so will play into the hands of the players with bigger resources.
- Guerrilla Strategy– Relevant for small players with little resources – attack, retreat, hide, then do it again, and again, until the competitor moves on to other markets.
* Find a segment of the market small enough to defend. The segment could be geographical, it could be demographic, it could be price.
* No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader. A guerrilla player should always be lean and nimble.
* Be ready to exit at a moment’s notice. If the market takes a downward trend or if the going gets too hot, a guerrilla player should be prepared to exit without incurring heavy losses.
In 2020, I firmly believe the winners in both WARFARE & MARKETING, will all have a military precision-designed programs that always combine creativity, analytics and a huge dose of empathy. And, weather you are a Military Leader, a Marketing CEO or even President Donald Trump – I think Sun Tzu said it best when he stated “NEVER INTERRUPT YOUR ENEMY WHEN HE IS MAKING A MISTAKE.”
And, never forget in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
Win the day and live with purpose and passion!
ABOUT GEOFF DE WEAVER:
Super strategist who directs Fortune 500 clients to define their vision, create a strategy, and harness their internal innovation to grow their business or reinvent their products. My key skills are decades of data-powered tools including: CRM, Mobile, Social Media, PR and Digital.
Expert at building and transforming brands, businesses, and digital and physical customer experiences at scale. Adept at telling a cohesive and integrated global story across multiple audiences.
Geoff is currently ranked the Top 1% in the Advertising & Marketing Industries with his network on LinkedIn and Social Selling Index worldwide. He has a remarkable reach of over 632,617,647+ 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections alone on LinkedIn worldwide as at October 2019. (and a US focus)
History of success developing and executing cross-channel global marketing campaigns to drive brand positioning, equity, and awareness while increasing engagement and sales and loyalty. Over three decades of worldwide experience gained in markets like: New York City, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Taipei, etc.
Innovative entrepreneur, author, speaker, and advertising executive with vast expertise driving business growth, reinventing brands, and implementing global marketing campaigns. Always proud and motivated to act as a trusted advisor to many CEO’s, CMO’s and iconic brands worldwide.
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Amazon Authors: https://www.amazon.com/Geoff-De-Weaver/e/B007DAEKFG
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