October 24, 2020. After gaining a share of the market, your next job is to defend it. (A look at the first day of The Falklands War.)
LON (London): HELLO THERE WHAT ARE ALL THESE RUMOURS WE HEAR THIS IS LON.
FK: (Falklands): WE HAVE LOTS OF NEW FRIENDS.
LON: WHAT ABOUT INVASION RUMOURS.
FK: THOSE ARE THE FRIENDS I WAS MEANING.
LON: THEY HAVE LANDED.
LON: ARE YOU OPEN FOR TRAFFIC IE NORMAL TELEX SERVICE.
FK: NO ORDERS ON THAT YET ONE MUST OBEY ORDERS.
LON: WHOSE ORDERS.
FK: THE NEW GOVERNORS.
LON: ARE THE ARGENTINIANS IN CONTROL.
FK: YES YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH THOUSANDS OF TROOPS PLUS ENORMOUS NAVY SUPPORT WHEN YOU ARE ONLY 1600 STRONG. STAND BY.
This was the Telex correspondence that took place between London and the Falkland Islands on the afternoon of April 2nd, 1982.
The final one before the Argentinians cut the lines.
If the telex wasn’t clear to you, as it wasn’t for me, I’ll confirm what happened.
An army from Argentina – undertaking Operation Rosario – landed on the north-east side of the island with the aim of invasion.
With ships, frogmen, commandos, guns, bullets…
Who quickly assumed control.
The British were being invaded on the Falklands.
I’ve previously touched upon the antics of Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army, who kept fighting allied forces 29 years after the end of WW2 because of poor internal communication.
Whilst poor communication was clear to see here too, the main criticism of the British was poor defence of the island (and a poor defensive mindset in general).
When territory is gained, there almost always becomes a time to defend that territory.
Just like in business.
For every new product launch, market entrant or campaign to gain market share, the time will come for that organisation to defend: Protect its position and preserve market share.
And often, if the defender can’t hang on to what it has, it loses the foundation for further growth.
Hanging on to market share, defending, is often an afterthought for organisations and marketing teams.
Spending the majority of budget on new ventures to gain market share and forgetting about the share it currently owns.
New customers are the priority, not current customers.
But this is a big mistake.
I think it’s better to ensure market share is protected before moving on to gain a further share of the market.
Because an organisation with high market share is always exposed to risks that smaller competitors do not encounter.
Defensive marketing begins with an assessment of the resources and assets you have available to protect your market position.
As HBR say: These include your brand identity, or how customers perceive you; the mix of products and services supporting that identity, including their pricing; and the means of communicating your identity, such as advertising.
Also, consider your market share (customers) and priorities – who are your best customers that you just cannot lose? Keep them loyal by over-delivering and communicating often.
I’d also add that innovation is key to protecting market share.
The organisation that can anticipate its own obsolescence by developing new products, customer services, channels of distribution and cost-cutting processes will defend its position without realising it.
When a defence is preempted, the loss of share is often minimal, sometimes it results in market gains.
Clearly, the British hadn’t even considered that an oversees colony over 8,000 miles away could be attacked by Argentina – just 300 miles away at the southernmost tip – who have always laid claim to the island.
Stranger still, in the wake of the events, is this telegram sent from the British Government the day before:
“We have apparently reliable evidence that an Argentine task force could be assembling off Stanley at dawn tomorrow. You will wish to make your dispositions accordingly.”
And its response from Governor Rex Hunt on the islands:
“Sounds like the buggers mean it!”
The British knew the attack was coming and they still hadn’t assembled into defensive positions.
When the now-infamous telex conversation happened the next day, the Argentinians were already well in control.
So, what on earth was going on?
Inadequate responses to early indication of threat and nominal defence to meet the incoming attack spring to mind.
And a lack of defensive mindset and strategy.
The British recaptured the island two months later, but this calamity (255 killed, 775 wounded and $1.19 Billion spent according to the NY Times) led them to re-think their defensive approach within overseas territory.
Every business owner and organisation should do the same.
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Image: @Metrónomo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons