At Be The Boss, we connect entrepreneurial-minded...
Business is war. The right marketing strategy is the key that leads to victory – profits and growing market share. And the wrong marketing strategy leads to defeat – deficits and shrinking market share.
The history of war has taught us at least one lesson: A smaller force will lose to a larger force, except in guerrilla warfare.
A guerrilla has a reservoir of tactical advantages that allows the lean and flexible to flourish against slow-moving giants. In fact, the bigger the giant, the slower it’s apt to move.
Guerrilla Marketing – The principles of guerrilla warfare can be applied to marketing:
Guerrilla Principle # 1 – Find a segment of the market small enough to defend. Find a niche and go for it. Since the giant has more resources and thus can easily crush an invader on most battlefields, pick a battlefield that the giant can’t or won’t bother to defend. It could be because the market is geographically too small or its potential volume insignificant – to the giant.
It’s relative size that counts – not absolute size. What’s small and insignificant to General Motors isn’t necessarily small and insignificant to you.
How small a market should a guerrilla set its sights on? Small enough to become the leader! You seldom read about companies that fail because they go after too small a market. But you do hear about failures caused by over-expansion.
Guerrilla Principle # 2 – No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader. Stay lean, quick and nimble by concentrating your staff on line officers, not staff officers. Resist the temptation to make up formal organization charts, job descriptions, career paths, and the other accoutrement of a staff-heavy organization.
Guerrilla Principle # 3 – Be prepared to retreat at a moment’s notice. A company that runs away lives to fight another day. Don’t hesitate to abandon the product that doesn’t work. And that’s where having a lean, quick and nimble organization pays off. The decision to quit doesn’t have to go through layers of staff officers, all trying to save their own skin.
Some of the Marketing Targets of Guerrilla Warfare
Geographic – Isolate your potential market in one geographic area. For example, “Business Week” dominates a massive segment of business readers. In Chicago a small weekly business newspaper has a circulation of 140,000 which may not sound like much, however, compared with “BusinessWeek’s” total circulation of 136,000 in the Windy City, the power of guerrilla warfare is evident.
Industry – Concentrate on customers in a particular industry segment – a strategy known as vertical marketing. Example: Some small computer firms, rather than going head to head with the likes of HP, focus on a narrow, specialized industry and serve it in depth, with special software, hardware, peripherals, etc.
Demographic – Pick a small but clearly defined segment of the buying public – defined by age, income, occupation and set your sights on these people alone.
Product – Concentrate sales efforts on small, specialized products that are too small to tempt – or anger – the giant. Example: Fiat sells 200,000 Jeep Wranglers a year while GM sells 10 million. So why should GM bother to invest in tooling up for a limited profit product?
High-End Products – There are super expensive, super quality, super small markets, where the public perception, right or wrong, is that the product MUST be good because the price is so high. It takes the guts to slice off this part of the market because the only way to measure it is to jump right in. No market research will give you an accurate forecast of its potential. Examples: Steinway pianos, Cuisinart food processors, and Rolex watches. Be sure that the product is, indeed, high quality – even if the price exceeds its value. What’s important is that its perceived value matches its high price tag. But be careful not fall into a common trap – succumbing either to fear or greed and seeking the lower end of the market after you’ve succeeded in establishing your place in the high end. Usual Result: The customer will switch to the lower-priced item, foregoing the quality product and thereby knifing your primary business.
Developing Allies - Search out joint marketing efforts, where enterprises can gain more sharing than by fighting. Sometimes it’s more prudent to help build a larger pie than to waste energy fighting for a bigger slice of a shrunken pie. Example: Century 21, a group of independent real estate agents linked into a national chain. Benefit: The sale and purchase of a house often involves moving from the territory of one agent into that of another. Obviously, each agent can enhance the others’ business.