Marketing Defense vs. Attack

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 14, 2011 9:12:00 PM

Attack The MarketThere is a tremendous difference in strategies, tactics and the overall approach used by companies defending a market position versus those that are attacking a market.

Very few small and mid-market (SME) companies are in a position to defend a market position.  Yet, I constantly see SME's implement sales and marketing programs designed to defend, when they need to be attacking.

Inherently, the underlying position for a firm defending a market is safety - they're the safe choice.  Think about IBM in its heyday.  The battle cry was, "No one ever got fired buying from IBM."  This is the default position for large firms.  While they make a bunch of promises, firms like GE Finance, Pacific Life, Wells Fargo, UPS, etc. all promise that if you hire them you won't look stupid.

When you're defending a market position popular marketing terms like brand, awareness and top of mind are key.  This is large companies advertise during football games.  By simply being there, they reaffirming their position.  This is true of most traditional marketing approaches.

Implementing "defense tactics" when you are not in a position to defend, not only fails to drive growth, it puts additional pressure on price and margins.  Small and mid-maket B2B companies must use attack strategies.  Their message must provoke the customer to become aware of issues they're not currently paying attention to.  It must demonstrate that the cost of the problem is far greater than the risk and effort required to solve the problem, and that the status quo is no longer viable.  It must open the customer up to take new approaches.

Here are three key attributes about this type of marketing that are far different from traditional marketing:

  1. The message is about the problem and is anchored in the customers world.  At ABC Company we do this, that and the other thing is out.

  2. The message shares knowledge rather than protects it.  Read your next ad, your next marketing piece or prospect letter and ask yourself, if you were the reader, how would you be better off for just having viewed it.  If the prospect needs to contact you to gain any real value, it's not going to work.

  3. It must be consistent.  One message, one email, one paper doesn't cut it.  The effort builds over time.

In my experience, applying these three rules will get you well on your way to growing your markets and expanding your margins.  If you have any other rules that work - I'd love to know about them.    


Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching