4 marketing strategies from Jack Trout: defensive, attacking, flanking, guerrilla
Jack Trout is a marketer, founder of Trout & Partners. He is one of the authors of the marketing concepts “Positioning” and “Marketing Wars”. In his writings, he was based on history. In the book “Marketing Wars”, he refers to the great battles, analyzing marketing strategies using their example.
First Strategy: Defensive
There are three rules for a defensive strategy. Any of them is not difficult to remember, but difficult to use in practice. But if you are going to defend yourself, then you need to study each rule very carefully.
The first rule of defense.
This method is only for the market leader. It seems logical, but not so simple.
Any company considers itself the very leader, but not every one is. Leaders are created by customers. Only they can choose the one on the market.
At the same time, it is worth distinguishing “just leaders” from true leaders. Suppose there are a lot of leaders in the smartphone market, but only Apple is in the minds of today’s and tomorrow’s customers. You should not deceive yourself and hope that if everyone says that your company is the leader, then it will be so. It is worth separating the suggestion to oneself and the real marketing strategy. After all, because of this, you can make an irreparable mistake. Any leader should have a clear picture of what is happening. It is one thing to deceive competitors, and another to manage, relying on the realities of reality.
The second rule of defense.
The second rule is to have the courage to attack yourself. Due to the fact that defense is the prerogative of leaders, they are firmly rooted in the consumer’s subconscious. That is, to strengthen your position on the top of the mountain of preferences, you need to announce new products and services, making your past releases obsolete.
A striking example of such a strategy is Apple. Once having made its way through the giants in the phone market, the company still remains at the top of consumer preferences. Every year she gives presentations of what is being prepared for release in a maximum of two months. Last year’s products are becoming obsolete. And competitors can only try to keep up with the company.
The third rule of defense.
Prevent the strong moves of competitors. Many enterprises have only one chance of success, but the leader has two. If a leading company has not completed a product update, then it can simply copy a competitor’s step. But it is worth doing this as quickly as possible so that the attacking company does not have time to gain a foothold.
This method is successfully used by General Motors. Ford overtook them in production, and Chrysler in new technologies. But none of them managed to significantly change GM’s market share. General Motors has not produced anything truly revolutionary since 1949. At the same time, Ford was the first in almost all markets, Chrysler created new developments, such as power steering. And it was General Motors who used all these innovations. And buyers believe that GM products are better, because it is in a leading place.
Second strategy: attack
Defensive and offensive strategies are interconnected. One is not possible without the other. But if a defensive war is a means for a market leader, then an offensive war is for companies in second and third places. Such companies are wealthy enough to carry out lengthy attacks on the leader.
The first rule of attack.
Most importantly, keep in mind a strong leadership position. Only a leader is easier to watch yourself than you watch him. It follows that companies two and three need to study not their strengths and weaknesses, but the leader’s sides have grown. No matter how strong the company is in any category, if the leader is strong there, then it has scanty chances. To win, you must defeat his position in the minds of consumers.
The second rule of attack.
Find the leader’s weak spot and attack him. Sometimes leaders do not notice their vulnerabilities. Perhaps they once did not attach importance to something or simply forgot. Now their carelessness has become your key to success.
But don’t think that a high price is a competitor’s weak point. Often, leaders do not need to lower the price a bit to cover their rear. Weakness is worth looking for in strength. General Motors had a poor after-sales service associated with many dealers, so American Motors was able to advance with the Buyer Protection Plan.
The third rule of attack.
Conduct an offensive on a narrower front, that is, with one product. A wide range is too much for a striker. Using this method, you work on the principle of strength. Gather relics in one place in order to break through the leader’s defense.
Third strategy: flanking
Many leaders believe that a flank attack is an impossible strategy. But this is not so, such a strategy is an innovative way of conducting marketing. At the same time, a similar method needs a long preparation. But provided that everything worked out for you, you can achieve a quick and spectacular victory.
The first rule of the flank.
Flank maneuver should be directed to uncontested territory. You will not be putting the product on the market, where competitors will immediately tear it apart. Such an attack does not require a radically new product. It is enough to bring something new to an existing product.
It can be easy, especially if leaders try to deny the existence of your advantage. Marketing theory calls this method segmentation. And this is a very important definition. You need to occupy a certain niche first, otherwise it will turn into an attack, and you will not be able to maintain your attack at a high enough level.
The second rule of the flank.
In essence, a flank attack is a surprise to the competitor. This is the main difference from the first two marketing strategies. That defense, that attack is easy to calculate, but for an attacker from the flank this is unacceptable.
Therefore, the more unexpected the attack, the more time it will take for the leaders to study the situation. Unfortunately, such an attack cannot afford trial marketing. Such actions will simply give out the company, and this will give leaders time to protect their market territories.
The third rule of the flank.
With a successful attack, you must continue to fight. Many forget about this, transferring their resources to solving other problems. This is a big omission, you need to consolidate the victory by destroying those who lost to you. A similar style does not hold prisoners.
This rule applies to own goods. If one product generates income and the other does not, then the latter does not have a right to exist. You need to focus on the winning product.
Fourth strategy: guerrilla warfare
Partisans always have a margin of tactical advantage. This allows a small company, although its size is relative, to survive on the lands of giants.
The first rule of guerrilla warfare.
Find a small market segment that you can protect from larger companies. In any city you can find a network of fast food restaurants more than McDonald’s. A small company needs to become a big fish in a small pond.
Rolls-Royce, for example, is also a partisan company. But their segment is cars worth more than $ 300 thousand. If RR starts to compete with cheaper brands of cars, it risks losing its small market segment. Why spend big money if you can buy the same for a lower price?
The second rule of guerrilla warfare.
No matter how successful you are, you cannot act as a leader. Most of the workers should be focused on production, and not on improving the working atmosphere. A small company has a big advantage: it can quickly make the necessary decision, unlike a giant in the same industry.
The third rule of guerrilla warfare.
Get ready to escape at any time. Why do you spend extra resources if your war is doomed to lose? Moreover, such an approach will allow you to be reborn somewhere else at another time.
This determines the aspect of the company’s activity as flexibility, in other words, you don’t need to be afraid of what others will think. You can change your priorities and even your business 180 degrees without any problems.
The most important thing when choosing your strategy is not to forget where you are located. Even if you really want to consider yourself a leader, unfortunately, this is not always true.