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July 6, 2018

Playing Hardball: Techniques to Disrupt the Competition

No well thought out marketing strategy is complete without a proper disruption campaign.

Ok, so you’re chosen your channels, you know your audience and budgets are set for the campaign, but are you completely certain that you’re ready to go to market? Will your strategy get you not only one off results, but market share?

With appropriate planning, launching a direct attack on your competitors will ensure not only your success in obtaining market share but also build a reputation for your business or brand. This is the groundwork for future marketing campaigns.

With that said, continue reading for some helpful tips you can use to absolutely shock the competition and promote yourself to Marketing Rock Star.

Don’t Just Defend, Attack

Worldwide, Apple and Samsung are known as the smartphone leaders. They hold the title of the largest manufacturers of smartphones. But this wasn’t always the case. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, brands like Nokia and Motorola owned this market space.

But, Nokia and Motorola both made a common mistake; they became complacent. They focused on defending their brands and underestimated the attacks of their competitors. Similar comparisons can be made for Alta-Vista and Yahoo, blind-sided by Google’s move on their market share.

Nokia’s Marketing Mistake

They didn’t disrupt the market. Around the time they launched the 3210 & 5210 handsets, Nokia had an abundance of budget, top marketing guru’s at their fingertips with ad placements at sporting events, on billboards, in print media creating complete market saturation.

They just never disrupted the market by saying why you should choose a Nokia over a competitor’s handset; they never made a comparison or attacked the competition.

Head to Head With the Competition

Apple broke into the global handset market in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone. They had taken the time to study the market, the competition’s marketing strategies and their own failures.

They then went head to head with better marketing and won market share. A viral TED talk by Simon Sinek mentions the golden circle and how Apple’s marketing promotes why they are different from other players in their market space.

Time to Attack

Before jumping in with both feet, make sure you’re well equipped to tackle the challenges of  ‘head to head’ marketing, since disrupting the market not only lets your audience know you’re a player but also highlights your brand as a treat to those who are already established in that market space.

The Forward Approach

The direct attack is simple; don’t recreate the wheel. This approach won’t win you friends, but it’s the fastest way to disrupt the market and let your audience know you’re here to play ball.

Know what’s working for brands in your market space and simply replicate it; subscribe to their marketing emails & catalogues, check their Google ads and websites for value props, offers and points of difference.

Understanding your competitor’s pricing, lead generation and business models mean you can attack.

Digital Sneak Attack

In this digital age, marketing battles are won on the Google battlefield. Having your brand top the first pages of search results is like bringing a tank to a knife fight.

A good SEO strategy, blogs, social media and backlinks give brands the edge over the competition.

Tools like SEMrush, Majestic SEO and Screaming Frog enable you to know and target your competition digital marketing strategies, without them becoming aware.

United Front for a Heavier Hit

Breaking away from silo’s and presenting a united front with products, service and marketing will yield a better result.

Promoting a single value proposition across all marketing, advertising and channels give your customers a better reason to purchase from you.

A good example is the Jaybro group. With business units focusing on printed mesh banners, temporary fencing, clothing and construction consumables they drive to market under one value proposition for maximum results.

Exploiting a Weakness

Samsung has used the approach of comparing and exploiting Apple on numerous occasions, with Apple using this technique in return.

Who can forget how fast Samsung went to market with ads after the iPhone 6 was faulted for bending in customers’ back pockets.

You can jump online and find countless marketing campaigns like this from Samsung; ads attacking Apple for 10 years of inferior iPhones and customers queuing only to be disappointed.

A great example of marketing awareness was Heineken, riding the media coattails of the Samsung ads to hijack market hype, with the ‘No Worries… It happens to us all the time.’ An ad depicted a bent bottle top, even though they don’t play in the same market space.

In closing, just remember that there is a thin line that shouldn’t be crossed when playing hardball marketing. Know your boundaries and what laws apply to your industry and marketplace and play hard, not dirty! – and you’ll thrive.


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Gavin Jones is a digital marketer with over 10 years experience in B2B eCommerce based in Sydney Australia. He has worked for numerous companies over a ten year period, gaining experience and knowledge in online and offline marketing strategies.

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