The Strategic Square

Jun 10th, 2003 by Tony in Marketing Warfare

There is no one way to fight a marketing war. Rather there are four. And knowing which type of warfare to fight is the first and most important decision you can make.

Which type to fight depends on your position in a strategic square which is easy to construct for any industry.

Let’s review the battleground in the mind. The mountain, of course, is the high ground owned by the leader.

If you go throw the mountain, then you are fighting an offensive marketing war. Hopefully, you’ll find a valley or crevice that your troops can break through. But the battle is tough, and often costly, because the leader usually has the resources to make strong counterattacks.

If you come down the mountain to stop competitive attacks, then you are fighting a defensive marketing war. And the rule is, the best defence is a good offence.

If you go around the mountain, then you are fighting a flanking marketing war. This is usually the most effective and least expensive type of marketing operation to conduct. But opportunities for good flanking moves are becoming scarce in many product categories.

If you go under the mountain, you are fighting a guerrilla marketing war. You want to select a territory secure enough to defend. Or too small for the leader to bother with.

— Al Ries and Jack Trout, Marketing Warfare, Chapter 6

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