Posts Tagged Marketing Warfare
Formulas, Goals, and the Battlefield
I usually agree with Seth Godin on most things, but this one is a bit too far out for me. I’ve included the entire post on his blog below, it short, and also a link to his blog if you want to read any of the comments there. So take a quick read and I’ll continue below:
The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.
The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.
Compared to that, how are you doing?
- Seth Godin
Formula: Short Sale
I do agree with Godin that many companies sell themselves short. Always trying to lower the bar in the hope of gaining a few customers. Where I disagree with Godin on this is that it’s not because of the comparison to competitors, but rather a poor strategy for taking consumers away from those competitors based on the tactics that are short sighted.
Goal: Long Term Relationship
The tactics you use should be based on the principle that your company is seen as the better choice. There are many areas a consumer could focus to answer this question. It is your job to make the answer self-evident when it come to comparing your company to your competitors.
We fight on the battlefield of the consumer’s mind. It’s one of the smallest battlefield you will ever find yourself on, about 6 inches. You should create campaigns that, hopefully, take up territory. And if you do it well, you should hold more ground then your competitors. The strategy is different for each company. It is based on the position of your product in the market place and how our competitors currently stand. We recommend following the “Marketing Warfare” strategies laid out by Ries and Trout. So make sure your strategy fits your goals.
Because the last time I checked … your consumers aren’t looking to buy Magical Unicorns … and I’m fairly certain you haven’t hired anyone with unicorn making skills recently.
Good Hunting and would love to read your comments on this topic.
- Notes From The Seth Godin Event: Pick Yourself (styleandthestartup.com)
- How To Move Your Brand From Good Enough To Remarkable (fastcompany.com)
- Sunday Shorts – Businesses Doing It Right Edition (dannybrown.me)
- The 10 Most Echoed Seth Godin Posts (davejafari.com)
- Education Manifesto ‘Stop Stealing Dreams’ by Seth Godin (connectwithyourteens.net)
After reviewing the chart below, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these issues would drop off if companies were following the principles explained in “Marketing Warfare” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Doesn’t it make sense that the marketplace, and by that definition consumers, wins if the best companies and products battle it out? And does this change if it’s B2B or B2c?
Enjoy. I would love to read your comments on this subject.
First, I want to share my complete frustration in the launch of the Apple iPad. I want this known upfront that when I saw the product release notes I was not happy. I wanted all the rumors. I loved all the capabilities that had been talked up so much in the past year. These are just some of the things that made my mouth drool:
- Duel Screen Mode: just set it down next to your Apple desktop and it becomes a second monitor
- iPhone Capable: with a 100 mile Blue Tooth range for the head set (OK I was trying to start that BT rumor)
- PBX Mode: Multiple simultaneous phone users (OK I just made that up, but damn, wouldn’t that be so cool!)
- MAC OS/X OS: to replace all my future desktop needs, including running Parallel to run all my Windows apps.
- Multi-Process Capable: Run 20,000 apps at the same time, with no performance degradation!
- Distributed Processing Capable: Desktop PC CPU’s maxed out, no problem use my iPad quads!
- MEGA Memory: New crystal memory providing several Tera-flops!
- MEGA Disk Space: New solid state device providing several Google-flops!
Oh yes, and there was some minor mention of this device being the best eReader on the market. I guess that’s important to. I evaluated and used the Kindle DX and thought it was OK. The B&N nook completely underwhelmed me. The Plastic Logic QUE looks very promising. Even the B&N nook sales rep pointed me to the QUE stating it was a better match for me then the nook.
So I’ve had some time now to let things sink in. I’m going to stop pouting and having my little iPad tantrums (Picture the TV commercial in which the gamers realize they rented or bought another bad game and completely lose it!) Since I am a marketing expert I thought I better sit down an analyze this in the context of Marketing Warfare and have an intelligent response rather then trash any office I’m in when the topic of the iPad comes up!
Based on my analysis, Apple clearly thinks, and I believe they are, number 1 in the portable media consumption domain. The iPad is a defensive move to strengthen their position in this space.
Leaders Play Defense
“The defensive form of war is in itself stronger then the offense.” – Karl von Clauswitz
Only leaders should play defense. It’s much easier to defend high ground with well entrenched troops then to fight your way up a hill trying to take over those high dug in positions. So let’s break down the case that Apple is playing the role of the leader in Portable Media Consumption and has waged a defensive move to solidify it’s position by looking at the three principles of Defensive Warfare.
Only the market leader should consider playing defense
If we look at some the categories with Portable Media Consumption we find some startling Apple numbers. These are some of the numbers I’ve found thus far:
- Music – 10 billion songs downloaded
- Audio Books – over 20,000 titles
- Audio Podcasts – over 125,000 titles
- Video Podcasts – over 25,000 titles
- Movies – over 2 million full length movies sold
- Applications – over 2 billion applications downloaded
- TV Shows – over 200,000 episodes sold
I like to call this Apple domain the iUniverse. They are #1 in music downloads, the #1 on-line movie store, and the #1 in music sales.
The best defense strategy is the courage to attack yourself.
Always create a moving target for your competition. This is accomplished by attacking yourself. Every area of your product leadership in the marketplace needs to be recreated and renewed. Apple has a strong history of doing that by releasing new versions of it’s wildly popular devices and environments:
- Shuffle – 3rd generation
- iPod – 9th generation
- nano – 5th generation
- Touch – 2nd generation
- iTunes – version 9
- TV – iTunes integration with control from iPhone or Touch
- iPhone – 3rd generation
Strong competitive moves should always be blocked.
First lets look at the competitor moves of B&N + Plastic Logic, and Amazon. These companies have strong showings in one are of portable media consumption – digital books and periodicals. These companies could create a set of products and user environments that would erode Apples position as leader in the Portable Media Consumption. In many ways this has occurred because Apple has not reacted quickly enough to the strong acceptance of the Kindle.
The B&N and Plastic Logic partnership is a serious concern. Here you have a strong device which outperforms (on paper) the Kindle and is coupled with the library of books and magazines available through B&N. Yes, it’s minus some of the cutie features of the nook like in-store book browsing, but that wouldn’t be too hard to change. The point is the QUE is positioned as a business Pro Reader. It can be your eBook reader, present your MS files, remote sync with your folders back on the office server, sync your calendar, and sync your email.
What’s to stop either B&N/Plastic Logic or Amazon from moving into a space like ‘business users’ and create the needed user development tools and begin to compete head on with Apple in all other areas of the iUniverse. It could conceivably happen. Again, because of the slow reaction by Apple to these threats.
Not Offensive Flanking or Guerrilla
Let’s quickly run through the other marketing warfare possibilities: Offensive Attacks, Flanking Attacks, and Guerrilla Attacks. These items are taken from Marketing Warfare by Al Ries.
Offensive Marketing (waged by #2 on the leader)
- The main consideration is the strength of the leader’s position. – If they are attacking a leader, I don’t see it so I can’t figure out what strength they would have focused on.
- Find the weakness in the leader’s strength and attack at that point. – Since I don’t see them targeting a leader and it’s strength, I can’t figure out the weakness inside the strength.
- Launch the attack on as narrow a front as possible. – This launch seems anything but focused on a narrow objective, and everything like a line extension to the iUniverse
Flanking Marketing (waged by #3 or all others on #2 or #1)
- A good flanking move must be made into a uncontested area. – Lots of tablets already, lots of eReaders, this is not uncontested ground.
- Tactical surprise ought to be an important element of the plan. – This was very publicized in the rumor mills with strategic leaks. No surprise it was coming
- The pursuit is just as critical as the attack itself. – If this does become a success and they really pour it on, who actually loses the market share? Back to who is the target?
- Find a segment of the market small enough to defend. – This product actually overlaps several segments.
- No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader. – too late.
- Be prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice. – I don’t think they will give this up, it expands the iUniverse.
I think this product release is a wise move on Apple’s part, if not a bit late. Kindle must think twice about it’s next move. B&N and Plastic Logic must weigh how much they want to pursue the ‘business’ niche front and pour in more resource to draw users away from Apple. (I’m seeing PC vs Mac all over again on this one) Also, expect mainstream application integration by next year from Apple if they want to keep the QUE’s of the world at bay. Expect Apple to continue to attack itself. Next year will have a newer better version with more capabilities. Each new iteration always better then the last and continuing to create moving targets for their competitors.
You can find my notes for this post on my MindMeister Mind Map at Marketing Warfare: The iPad Battle.
I’d like to know your thoughts on this post and the Apple iPad. Please leave me your comments.
Firstly, I need to apologize up front that I don’t remember where I got this idea from. It is not my idea, I have used variations of this exercise in my consulting practice, but I wanted to pass it along. One of the problems I have when listening to a host of podcast products is that at times I am not in a good position to stop and take notes. This idea I found on either Phil McKinney’s “Killer Innovation” or on a “Venture Voice” interview, but that is a guess at best.
We all need tools to help us think of new ways to solve old problems. We have a lens that we use to evaluate data as it comes in. Every so often we find a new lens which helps us provide a breakthrough in performance or understanding. In this case I wanted to share with you a new way of looking at things with a hope that it produces exceptional results.
Always / Never Brainstorming
This is an excellent team exercise. I would expect at least two large hanging paper sheets and a pile of sticky notes and some felt tip markers would work nicely. Here are the steps:
- Define the topic or focal point. Try to be specific. I prefer these questions NOT be open-ended if possible to make sure you are focused as possible. Here are some example:
- “What are the first impressions of our company/organization/church?”
- “What’s the last thing people remember about ?????”
- “What do people expect when they ????”
- “What happens when a person doesn’t ????”
- Have the team brainstorm things that ALWAYS happen (Time limit 10 minutes or until the ideas dry up)
- Now, have the team identify things that NEVER happen for this topic (Same time limit, and keep the answers relevant)
- Take a break – you just spent 20 minutes hurting your brains! (5 minutes)
- Nominal Grouping next – spend 5 to 10 minutes moving the stickies together that are talking about the same thing (duplicate stickies if the idea is relevant to two groupings)
- Focus on the Never – now ask the team to come up with ideas that would make the never become a reality and be considered exceptional. (20 minutes)
Innovation Bonus Exercise
Now I did get this great idea from a Phil McKinney podcast as I was driving back from a State Cup soccer tournament. This is the first time I heard this exercise described this way and should provide you some great ideas and insights.
Our brains are programmed to stop thinking once we think we found the right answer and often we leave ideas in our head and never share them because of this reason. You as the leader or facilitator need to force your team past this creative barrier. Here is the bonus exercise:
- Have all your nominally grouped ideas placed on a grid.
- Each idea group should run across the top of the grid
- Each idea group should run down the left side creating a matrix.
- In each matrix box, FORCE the team to come up with a new idea.
- Use this Hybrid list of ideas for innovative ways to move forward.
The ALWAYS List
This list represents the performance bar that all expect from any organization in the specific category examined. This list becomes the managers performance list. The manager will use this list to help identify talents and skills needed by the staff to accomplish these objectives. Mentoring, training, feedback and possibly team reconfiguration (fire/hire) might be needed to help the team reach the Always Base Level, if they are not already there. It is imperative that the manager get his team to this level and make sure they stay there.
The NEVER List
The Never list (and Innovation Hybrid List) is used by leadership to determine what the group will take on next. An assessment needs to be performed first. Do we have the right talents? Do the correct skills exist at the right level to take on the new item? What do we gain by taking on the new item as it relates to our competitors? How long can we have an advantage before the competitors catch up to us? And let’s not forget, how much will this cost us?
Marketing Warfare Correlations
Now before I get emails asking me how this relates to Marketing Warfare let me break this down quickly. This exercise will work for three of the four areas of the strategic squares. I’ll try and break this down by market position:
Market Leader – you are using this exercise to create a Defensive Marketing Plan. The goal is to create a moving target for the competitors in your space. The ultimate object of these repetitive successes would be to discourage your competitors from attempting direct attacks on your position.
Market Non-Leaders – since you are not using this exercise to attack the leaders weakness within their strength, this exercise should be used in creating a flanking attack and would work best if you focused on an area in which the leader is currently not focusing on.
Local or Regional Leaders – this exercise will produce great ideas for guerrilla marketing warfare plans. Many of these ideas will place you in a strong competitive advantage to the national companies that cannot respond to the dominance you hold in your local or regional spaces.
Please let me know what you think of this post. I hope it helps you and your organization. Your feedback is most welcome!
Good Luck and Good Hunting!
I have come to the conclusion that Twitter has a major design flaw and it is making it difficult for me to continue to grow my network of followers. Not that my number of followers are very large, this is more of a philosophical debate raging inside of me to justify my limited time I have on this planet and the effort it takes to accomplish something in said limited time. I, like others, am a complex human being. I have many faces or areas in my life which are in different stages of maturity. I don’t just share on a singular topic. I expose myself in many ways, to the horror of some, yes!
For Twitter to continue to become the social force that it is destined to be, it must move beyond this singular voice that it has granted us.
What kind of a Twit would I be if I didn’t take this opportunity to invite you to follow me on Twitter. Sometimes the most obvious mistake for Twits is not to simply ask people to follow them. Thanks!
My Many Masks! (or Filters?)
So, what are the chances that my Twitter followers are just like me. That they enjoy everything I do, or for that matter, are at the same maturity level in those similar areas of our lives. Here are some of the areas I Tweet about, randomly mind you, and often based on what other’s Tweet about also.
Religion - As a Christian, it shapes my thought process and value system immensely. I enjoy studying and talking with people of other faiths, but it is unlikely that this interaction with change my core belief system.
Family - I love talking about my family. My wife and boys are the greatest gift and treasure I have and love sharing them with others.
Marketing - My passion, my hobby, my mistress. Yes, I tend to focus my vocation on internet marketing, but I still love the field. I happen to follow the principles of Marketing Warfare which at times places me at odds with other marketers in how we approach solutions to problems, but that is also part of the fun!
Soccer (true Football) – I absorb all that I can about the game. My hands on experience is at the youth level, mostly because of my four boys. I train, coach, ref at the U15 level or below and volunteer with different clubs and organizations in the area. If there is a match on the TV, I’m watching it over all else.
Chess - I consider myself a novice. Yes, I can put my boys is a good chess smackdown (sometimes) every now and then but put me in a room with a person rated over 1500 and I look like a fool who’s never seen a board before!
SUDOKU - I loves all things Sudoku. I’m even thinking about learning Japanese so I can solve puzzles faster!
And the list goes on and on ……
Now imagine trying to find a set of people on this planet who have the same interests. Ok, now I have a following of 5. Now what? What are my odds of getting to six, without investing heavily into cloning?
Twitter is Tone Deaf!
Now images your Tweets had Tones! Let’s say that each of the areas I’ve described above had a Tone. This would allow people to follow not only the person, but the areas of their life they had an affinity with. Thus, when I Tweet, I would associated a Tone to the Tweet so that you would only hear the items you wanted to and not the other things I find so interesting (and bore the hell out of you!).
Twitter was simply meant as tool to tell others “Hey I’m going out to lunch, will be back in 30 minutes” and there is some developer somewhere laughing his ass off for what Twitter is being used for today!
How do you handle risk? Are you aggressive or passive with your campaigns? Do you think your job is to mitigate risk? Do you believe success is bred only when you instigate risk? Recently I read an article by Joseph Jaffe called Rewarding Risk and it made me contemplate how we think about risk, or rather how we should be thinking about risk.
Now I must be honest, Mr Jaffe is advocating risk in his article. He’s also writing for the United States Postal Service magazine and suggesting that companies be more aggressive with their direct marketing, and from this I assume their mailings. There is nothing wrong with that, but I want you to consider risk in a different light.
The Constant within Change
In times of change, risk is the only factor that remains constant. In today’s uncertain times, how you perform your role as marketer could be an important aspect to the success or failure or your organization. Doing nothing allows a competitor to act and take a position within your space. Taking aggressive marketing actions could cause you to dwindle your reserves and leave you weak when you may need to react to a competitor’s aggressive move.
So what is the answer? Do we focus on playing it safe? Do we become very selective in our approaches and try a minimalist approach until the economic times improve? Here is something I want you to consider.
The Mitigator Statues
OK, so how many are there? Someone point them out to me. Show me the place where we honor those fallen heroes of avoided risk. So how many statues, monuments, renamed schools or streets, plaques, or even little plastic trophies are out there for the following:
- kept their company safe from spending money that might not have been needed
- avoided a trip that may have been a disaster
- Kept a department happy and safe by avoiding the potential of failure due to a tough project
- never got fired because you refused to stick your neck out for something you thought was right
Let’s face it. We don’t honor the people who avoid risk. We like to keep them around so we have reminders of what not to be, but we don’t honor them.
I think Karl von Clausewitz stated this best:
“Some statesmen and generals try to avoid the decisive battle. History has destroyed this illusion.”
Practice Marketing Warfare – Darwin’s survival of the fittest living out right before our eyes. The customer wins when the strongest company, product, or service survives and walks off the battlefield.
Fail Often, Fail BIG – If the next project you work on isn’t making your stomach churn with acid reflux because you have it all hanging out there, then quit marketing and join a PR firm. I hear they love working on Risk Mitigation.
Continuously Improve Yourself – never think you know it all. Never stop reading. Never stop going to school. Never stop teaching. Never stop!
Narrow Your Focus – apply your strengths and talents with the greatest possible force on the target or objective at hand. Go into every assignment with a superiority that assumes you will succeed.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Jaffe, J. (2008, November). Rewarding Risk. Deliver, 4, page 5
I have a long standing debate with many of my marketing friends and associates. Where do you place your emphasis: customer, product, competitor. At ROI Hunters, we tend to follow the disciplines of Marketing Warfare as documented by Al Ries and Trout .
Product Focus – your energies are focused on market share and positioning of a product or it’s family or a brand.
Client Focus – your focus is on client acquisition, client retention, or life-time-value of a client (share of wallet).
Competitor Focus – focus is becoming the leader in your field (product or service), by making your competitors incapable of attacking your position or unwilling to attack your position.
Which is best?
So now the poll. Please answer this simple poll to help us understand where you think marketing energies are best focused and produce the longest lasting results.
In the end, the customer/consumer/client wins. But we must all be prepared to build a strategy to that end.