There are five keys to offensive strategy in the marketplace. Each of these is essential. The failure to acknowledge or practice even one key marketing tactic can undermine or even eliminate your opportunities for success.
1. Specialization: What niche do you fill in the current market? What is your area of specialization? Do you specialize on the basis of a particular customer? Do you specialize on the basis of a particular need of a particular customer? Do you specialize in terms of serving a particular market?
When Harry Busch formed All-State Legal Supply, he decided to specialize in serving the needs of law firms, first in the East and then nationwide. Over the years he built a five- hundred-million-dollar company designed to satisfy a particular customer in a specialized customer niche. His entire focus was to create and make available more and more products and services in his area of specialization. What is yours?
The more specialized you are, the more effective your offense-related activities will be in getting and keeping customers. A major problem facing companies today is that they offer too many products and services at too many price points in too many markets. No one is exactly sure what they stand for or who their primary customer is supposed to be.
2. Differentiation. In what way is your product, service, or company different from and superior to that of your competitors? Your ability to differentiate, to develop, and to maintain a meaningful, competitive advantage in a fast-changing market-place is the key to your success and profitability. What are you good at? For what part of your offerings do you receive the most positive compliments from your customers? If you were to do a market survey, what would your customers say that you do for them in an excellent fashion?
What is your competitive advantage today? What will it be in the future if you don’t make any changes? What should it be if you want to dominate your market or another market? What could it be if you were to change your strategy and your positioning for the future? Your ability to differentiate your product from your competitors’ in a meaningful way is the key to business growth and business advantage.
3. Segmentation: What are the specific market segments that you can dominate with your product or service offerings? Who are the specific or ideal customers in the marketplace who can most benefit from your competitive advantages? Your ability to accurately identify and segment your ideal customer market is the key to pinpoint focusing of your advertising and sales efforts.
Here is an exercise for you: Imagine preparing a newspa- per advertisement for your ideal customers. How would you describe them? If you could select only one characteristic to define or identify an ideal customer, what would it be?
When you segment your market accurately, you can pin- point your marketing, sales, advertising, and promotional activities and get more business at lower cost.
4. Concentration: This is your ability to concentrate single- mindedly on your very best potential customers, based on the first three tactics of marketing strategy. Who are they?
In the final analysis, your ability to think better than your competitors is your key strategic advantage. Your ability to plan, decide, and then take action to get more of the very best potential customers for what you sell is the highest form of business and entrepreneurial thinking. As Napoleon said, “The essence of strategy is, with the weaker army, always to have more force at the crucial point than the enemy.” Focus all your energies and resources on convincing your ideal customer that what you offer is superior to anything offered by your competitors. This is the key to victory in business.
5. Positioning: In sales and marketing, perception is every- thing. How are you positioned in your marketplace? What do people think about you and what do they say about your company when you are not there? What are the words they use to describe you?
Your positioning very much affects your brand image. The position you hold in the hearts and minds of your customers and prospective customers determines whether they buy from you, how much they buy from you, how much they pay you for what you sell, how much they negotiate or delay making a sales purchase, and how often they both repurchase and refer you to other prospective customers. Your positioning is so important that you cannot leave it to chance.
The reason for the harshness of the Mongol siege described earlier was clear. It was a matter of positioning or “branding.” Because news traveled fairly quickly over the caravan trails, it soon became known that it was much better to surrender to the Mongols than it was to resist them and suffer the consequences.
Genghis Khan made it clear that, if a city or even an empire surrendered to him, he would leave all of its administrators and tax collectors in place and allow them to live under a gov- ernment of their own people as long as they paid proper trib- ute to the Mongols each year. This turned out to be a much better solution than going to war against them. It was one of the great marketing strategies of the Middle Ages.