Knowing When To Attack The Enemy

05 June, 2014 — 5+ Comments

When the time is right, attacking the competition can seriously boost your brand awareness (and overall business). 

gareth_roberts-unorthodox-marketing-attack

For this post, consider marketing as “attacking”. Sure, if you’re going out to show that your product is better than the competition’s, then you’re attacking anyway. And there’re a few good reasons that, when the timing is right, you need to go out all-attack.

Do not misunderstand me here though. Attacking a competitor’s weakness is not a long-term strategy for success. In fact, it’s the complete opposite, and sooner or later you will fail.

Look around and you’ll see it more often than you think. Take supermarkets, for example, there’s always a cat versus dog scenario going on with the big stores price matching and discounting products based on their competitors’.

So it can be done for your business?


“If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him; if well supplied with food, he can starve him out; if quietly encamped, he can force him to move.”
Sun Tzu


Take a crazy (and great) example from last year involving Samsung attacking Apple.

Police in Australia had to warn motorists not to use Apple Maps as previous motorists had used the software to find the city of Mildura, only to be guided deep into the wilderness of Australia’s Murray-Sunset National Park where they had to be rescued by emergency services.

Who was the first to jump on this blooper? Samsung, of course.

Samsung’s Australian PR team were quick to devise an unorthodox “guerrilla” marketing campaign that pounced on this to push its Galaxy S III mobile by promoting it’s built in GPS software – a mapping software that has previously been hailed as pretty dependable.

So, Samsung installed a muddled up vehicle with camping equipment and placed it bang in the middle of busy Sydney. Next to it was a sign that read: “Oops, should have gotten a Samsung Galaxy S III. Get navigation you can trust.”

Samsung where smart, quick and effective in making the most of this opportunity. Are there opportunities like this to attack in your market or niche? Are you seeing competitors doing something that you can exploit?

Business is war. But I cannot emphasize it enough that attacking like this will only work if you get the timing spot on. As just like war, in business, you have to know when to defend your position, to fall back, and, of course, to attack. Here are some scenarios.

1. You have something to sell that your competitor doesn’t, attack with your uniqueness.
2. You have something to say that your competitor doesn’t, attack with your message.
3. Your competitor is fading, attack to raise your profile.
4. Your competitor is a little stronger than you, attack to confuse.
5. Your competitor is going to attack you, attack first to get the upper hand.

Many business gurus will tell you that the way to go is to attack the problem, and not the competition. Generally they’re right, but there comes a time when you just HAVE to attack the enemy. That’s the key here: TIMING. You cannot go out all-attack each week, it needs to be scarce. And I mean, really scarce.

It may be on anything; price, product, customer service, experience, online presence, location, promotion… it doesn’t matter. If there’s a weak point, you need to consider an attack – this is especially true if you have strengths in this area.

Just make sure you know what you’re fighting for, and commit to it.

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