Here is an excerpt from The Marketing Playbook by John Zagula and Richard Tong:
It may seem hard to believe, but our experience with hundreds of businesses and their specific challenges has shown over and over that there is always one obvious basic strategy thats right for the situation. Once selected, your play becomes a starting point; its your path, your line of attack. From it, the rest of your in-market action plan comes to life.
Remember that there are only five plays to pick from. Here they are:
Drag Race: In some circumstances, your best bet calls for singling out one competitor and putting the pedal to the metal racing against them to win the category. This can be quite exciting, so its a really tempting choice. But you better have what it takes to beat them over the finish line.
Platform: Success can be hell. Once youve secured a lead in your category, you have to hold on to it and make the most of it. Standing on your platform at the top of the category, you need to be on the lookout. You must gather allies and defenses. Sounds kind of boring. But its essential. Success begets envy and you never know from where a new challenger is likely to emerge.
Stealth: Just because youre not strong enough yet to win the battle doesnt mean you cant win the war. In this play, you undermine the status quo in your market by whittling away at the incumbents weak points. And maybe even by making them look foolish. But remember, you still have to stay out of their way and survive. Big, dumb, slow competitors can still squish you.
Best-of-Both: Go ahead, have your cake and eat it, too. While in many cases the smart decision is to focus, requiring a trade-off at the high-end or low-end of the market, in the right circumstances you dont have to. With this play, instead you gain dominance over the whole of the category by collapsing these two ends. If you appeal to the most important needs of each part of the market, you can win them all.
High-Low: Compromise is for weaklings. With this play, you try to close out the competition by splitting the category and owning both halves. It takes a lot of finesse, but when you need to keep a competitor from establishing a Best-of-Both foothold, you need to appeal to the distinct prejudices of both the elites and the common folk, the high end and the cheap. This is the hardest play to manage, but if its done right, youll achieve high volumes and high margins at the same time.
In choosing the right play, there are some important questions you will need to ask yourself. Different plays are best suited to different conditions. Different plays require different strengths. Do you have the right ones to pull off your choice? Some plays are riskier than others. How tough are your nerves? Depending on the play, succeeding can take a long time. Do you have the time, patience, and resources? After all that, how big is the goal youre after? Is it achievable? Is it worth it?
John and Richard have written the book. It is for us to put it into action!
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