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20+ Marketing Strategies

        posted by , April 29, 2013

Marketing strategies get as complex as chess strategy or battle strategy.

Whether you're a market leader, a challenger, a follower or a niche brand it's important to be aware of the following basic strategies.

Growth Strategies

Strategies for growing a brand or business.

  • Product Development
    Do more of what you do. Develop new products for your current markets. If you're a car manufacturer, manufacture a new model.

  • Diversification
    Do something new. Develop new products for new markets. If you're a car manufacturer, manufacture tires.

  • Market Development
    Sell your existing products in new markets. If you sell industrial glue, put it in smaller bottles and sell it to retailers.

  • Market Penetration
    Sell your more of your existing products. Improve your products and intensify your sales efforts to reach more customers. If you have a small share of a big market this is often your best strategy.


Diversification Strategies

The two approaches to diversification (entering new markets).

  • Horizontal Integration
    Develop new products at the same level in the value chain. In you manufacture cars, develop a light truck.

  • Vertical Integration
    Develop new products at a different level of the value chain. If you're a software company, start selling IT consulting services.


Offensive Marketing Warfare Strategies

If business is war then marketing is the front line. In markets that aren't growing quickly, the only way to gain customers is to take them from a competitor. Marketing strategies commonly leverage battle strategies.

The following strategies are designed to take market share from a target competitor.

  • Frontal Attack
    Attack a leading competitor's position by directly competing with them. Aggressively market your product with the aim of taking a big chunk of the leader's customers.

    A frontal attack requires significant resources. The target has a dominant position and can wait you out while you spend aggressively on product development and promotion. A frontal attack works best when you have far greater resources than the target. It's also effective when the target has grown complacent in their position and let customer satisfaction and product quality drop.

  • Encirclement Strategy
    Take advantage of a leading competitor's every weakness by competing with a broad range of their products. Create niche products that chip away at the competitor's market share. Take easy wins such as capturing their dissatisfied customers. Avoid overspending, the idea is to sustain your attack indefinitely. If you chip away at the competitor's business for long enough, momentum may eventually shift to you — allowing you to lead the market.

  • Leapfrog Strategy
    Innovate to create a new business model that makes your competitors irrelevant. If your competitors are selling film, invent a digital camera.

  • Flanking Attack
    Find a niche or sub-market where you can avoid directly attacking your competitor's main force. Gain enough strength from the niche to eventually throw the competitor's main force into chaos with a blindside attack. For example, enter the web search market with social search.


Defensive Marketing Warfare Strategies

Defensive marketing is the exclusive domain of market leaders. If you're not leading the market, it's better to stay on the attack.

  • Position Defense
    Fortify your existing position. Strengthen relationships with customers with loyalty programs and improved customer experience. Improve your products but make no radical changes. This strategy is effective when you know your competitor is expending resources at an unsustainable pace in a frontal attack.

  • Mobile Defense.
    Keep moving. Change your products, product differentiation factors and promotional strategies on a regular basis. It's difficult for your competitors to take your market share when you're moving quickly forward.

  • Flank Position
    Watch for niche players in your market and redeploy resources to compete with them. If you make high performance bicycles and a new competitor starts making high performance bicycle tires — assume they're after your market and compete with them.

  • Counter Offensive
    Launch an offensive against a attacking competitor in their core market. If you're an IT consulting company and a software company aggressively enters your market — aggressively enter their market (make software). A counter offensive is best planned with a cool head. Do it when it makes business sense.

  • Pre-emptive Strike
    Launch an offensive against a potential competitor's core market to distract them (in the hopes they won't enter your market).

  • Deterrence Strategies
    Deter competition by showing that you're a fierce competitor with absolute dominance in a market. For example, a large discount retailer can gain a reputation as being unbeatable — this discourages local shops from competing.

  • Alliance Strategies
    Develop Alliances against a much larger competitor. For example, a downtown shopping district of small shops create an alliance to offer free parking to defend against a big retailer.

  • Diversion Strategy
    If a competitor is copying every step you take, make a large number small decoy investments in new markets. The competitor may follow and lose focus.

  • Strategic Withdrawal
    Withdrawing from a losing battle to fight another day. For example, a local discount shop closes when a larger competitor moves next door. They re-open as a niche shop (e.g. sporting goods) within a few months.


Competitive Strategies

Strategies to build a sustainable competitive advantage.

Unlike warfare strategies, these strategies focus on your own strengths. Get these three things right and you won't spend much time thinking about the competition.

Product Leadership

If your products are strongly preferred by customers you're difficult to beat. For example, if you design mobile devices that customers love.

Customer Experience

If customers enjoy your end-to-end customer experience enough to recommend you within their social circles you're hard to beat.

Operational Excellence

Operate faster, cheaper and at higher quality than the competition. For example, a search engine with faster, higher quality results than runs ultra efficient data centers.


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