Marketing Warfare Strategies

Marketing Warfare Strategies

Many believe that the core of marketing is to identify and profitably satisfy the needs of the customer. Yet, why does fulfilling that goal not always lead to business success? The key could be that a shift in focus is needed. Instead of a customer-oriented product development and marketing strategy, maybe businesses need to become competitor-oriented. If the key to succeeding in business were to focus on products closest to those the customers want, the market leader would be the one that performs the best market research and testing.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There must be more to success than just market research.” quote=”There must be more to success than just market research.”]

Assuming that all other things are equal, larger armies have a distinct advantage over smaller armies. Size matters. If several businesses enter the market at the same time with a similar product offering, the larger company, the one with the bigger sales force, is likely to win. The larger company can afford the resources to outnumber and overpower their competition. This, of course, does not mean that small companies don’t stand a chance. Smaller companies need to realize that the way to success is a superior strategy, rather than a brute force attack on a larger competitor.

To understand what kind of marketing warfare strategy a company should adopt, let’s assume four hypothetical companies – each one half the size of the larger. Each firm will have a different objective to their marketing war:

Company 1: Continued Market Domination
Company 2: Increase Market Share
Company 3: Profitable Survival
Company 4: Survival

Market Shares of Our Hypothetical Companies

Why isn’t the goal of the number 1 company to further increase market share? The main reason is due to the existence of antitrust laws, built to protect the consumers. If the market leader is continually growing larger, this anti-trust legislation could come into play, especially if they were to cause a smaller competitor to close its doors, either through bankruptcy or purchase. For that reason, defending the leading market share is more important than offensively attacking the market.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The Defensive Marketing Strategy: Continue your market domination.” quote=”The Defensive Marketing Strategy: Continue your market domination.”]

The second company’s ideal strategy would be an offensive against the market leader. Well, that is, if there is a large market share gap between the second and third company – if they are close competitors roughly the same size, they would likely each be the other’s main strategic focus). If there is a large gap between those two companies – gaining the market share of the third company will do little, relative to the much larger second company. Instead, there are potentially significant rewards, and perhaps even potentially becoming the market leader if shares can be gained from the first company – the dominant firm.


[clickToTweet tweet=”The Offensive Marketing Strategy: Increase your market share.” quote=”The Offensive Marketing Strategy: Increase your market share.”]

The third company, at least in our example, would be too small to sustain a prolonged offensive on the largest company. That company’s best strategy would be to utilize a flanking attack. A flank will avoid direct competition with the other companies – perhaps by launching a product that is significantly different from that of the larger firms, courting a niche audience.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The Flanking Marketing Strategy: Ensure a profitable survival.” quote=”The Flanking Marketing Strategy: Ensure a profitable survival.”]

The fourth company, the smallest one, would not have the resources to attack anyone. It can’t flank, because any one of the larger competitors can launch a similar product, and have vastly greater resources at their disposal to assure success. The smallest firm needs to use a guerrilla warfare strategy, by identifying segments big enough to be profitable for the smaller firm, but not large enough to attract larger competition.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The Guerrilla Marketing Strategy: Simply survive by any means necessary.” quote=”The Guerrilla Marketing Strategy: Simply survive by any means necessary.”]

Now, how do each of these strategies play out?

You will have to read on…


Ries, Al, and Jack Trout. Marketing Warfare.
“Marketing Strategy Models.” Venkatesh Shankar. 2010. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing.

Andrij Harasewych

Although I ended up graduating from Villanova University with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, a side passion of mine for the past decade has been business and marketing. After three years of working full time as a mechanical engineer, and part time as a freelancer, success in my freelance work motivated me to alter my path and focus fully on marketing.

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