The Principle of Force

Jun 4th, 2003 by Tony in Marketing Warfare

In the military, the numbers are so important that most armies have an intelligence branch known as the order of battle. It informs commanders of the size, location, and nature of the opposing force.

When two companies go head to hear, the same principle applies. God smiles on the large sales force. Given virgin territory, the company with the larger sales force is likely to wind up with the larger share of the market.

Once the market is divided up, the company with the larger share is likely to continue to take business away from the smaller company. The bigger company can afford a bigger advertising budget, a bigger research department, more sales outlet etc. No wonder the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Is there no future for the small competitor? Of course there is, which is one reason why this book was written. “The art of war with a numerically inferior army,” said Napoleon, “consists in always having larger forces than the enemy at the point which is being attacked or defended.”

There’s the illusion, of course, that over the long run, the better product will win. But history, military and marketing, is written by the winners, not the losers. Might is right. Winners always have the better product, and they’re always available to say so.

— Al Ries and Jack Trout, Marketing Warfare, Chapter 2

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