Guerrilla!? Who’s it good for?
Almost a natural continuation to my last post it’s really important to understand how to fight a guerrilla warfare, what is it exactly and really how it is implemented, the statements may seem general, but each one of you can apply these techniques in one form or another, in a marketing perspective I can definitely say that this is one of the most popular methods. Just by looking at what’s going on today in Iraq, Afghanistan or even closer to home in Lebanon and the territories and even history … from China to Vietnam – no doubt there is a huge media coverage to an invincible methodology or considered as one.
What is a guerrilla?
Guerrilla warfare is a “none conventional” war among small groups who lurk larger and less mobile groups (Cossacks, ninjas or Ho Chi Minh …) it’s a collection of tactics that allow small ones “to bloom” in the world of X- large size, of course it’s relative and should be adapted to the competitor.
The first principle talks about finding a segment large enough to protect ( worth fighting for) it can be measured in geographic or quantitative terms, the principle of guerrilla organizations do not affect or change the mathematics of a great marketing war because the x-large would probably continue to beat the small, the small attempts to “reduce” the battle space in order to achieve a relative advantage.
This Is an important principle, warfare is often perceived as a flanking/detour fight but there is a clear difference between the two (guerilla vs flanking of course), the intention is to get close to the market leader compared with guerrilla which is a way to not put the group at the competitor’s eyesight, marketing was always about selecting the segment which you want to control at the end, everyone’s first instinct is to try and grab a larger market – and this is a mistake! I believe that a very focused and correct use of resources that are at our disposal in order to produce relative advantage is smarter, if you feel that tomorrow you are going to compete with google, then in my opinion you are probably mistaken.
I often hear companies that have not yet formulated their identity, coming out with so many products, so many areas and markets, so many… I remember the greatest challenge I had as a marketing manager in orange was to try and bring many products in the minds of customers, many products who lost their share or forgotten, because we could not create a right mix and resource allocation is a correct way and the truth is there was a “sea” of products that’s pretty obvious that we couldn’t create awareness to them all (a good friend told me: “Variety is not a strategy”), this is yet just another example but for a large company, Cooperate in this case so try to imagine how it will be when doing it with a small company – just shows how important it is to focus our efforts although it can sound hard and impossible to a guerrilla company – this is the way. Focus and grow in a niche, concur it and then you can think about spreading.
All this of course does not rule out the possibility of a guerrilla company over time using a detour /flanking techniques – Do you really think that a guerrilla company has the resources & budgets!? – Sometimes yes but mostly not, the thought of doing the two is often misleading and it comes from a principle called the “expansion trap ” trying to do them both can result in disastrous outcomes.
No matter how successful you become don’t behave as a world market leader, the day you see the CEO himself buying a Honda 2000 or pulling a salary of NIS 50,000 that’s the day you should start looking for work (I’m a bit exaggerating to illustrate a point …) It’s funny you know …. you get a small company with entrepreneurs who are able to recruit money for a sexy idea, and before they even start working they rent a sea view apartment or a top floor at Azrieli Towers, white corridors, armored glass room, 100 inches screen plasma of, and on the door you see gold letters “waiting room” god…the sofas and furniture costs more than my living room decor, why should we rent an office for – $10 per meter we can take one for $30 (I am a bit sarcastic here I know J… the most funny thing is that suddenly the board visits the office ….. Everyone walks out for lunch and the CEO invites whole company board … this is the investor’s money – he pays for dinner (Thank Dr. about this amazing insight …).
in this kind of combat situations, workers can work for years in a company without even meeting a client, in guerilla warfare it’s different it’s much more personal and everyone are in the frontline, I would also add that guerilla companies do not need to “draw” organizational charts, and complex Gantt’s, write job descriptions or document each and every move they make, perhaps in the long run it would be relevant but why complicate things when you are so small before it’s even necessary, think efficient, agile practices thought to be sharp and immediate and not run sluggishly, if it takes days and weeks to prepare a creative than there’s a problem, if any small move results in a company meeting (10 people in the same room sitting 3 hours discussing issues = 30 hours of work have gone by….) as a guerrilla company you must run faster and be more elastic and flexible in order to cope with the many enemies that surrounds us and large as they may be, every minute has a price, the ability to move quickly is clear advantage – apply it carefully.
The last important principle is the ability to move from place to place at a moment’s notice, the ability to fight another day, Che Guevara said it well , ”do not be afraid to abandon a position or product if the fight turns on you”. guerrillas do not have the resources to fight lost battles, put your ego aside and try to think otherwise, make the appropriate changes quickly and efficiently and release a new attack, here the principle of flexibility and elasticity is profitable, for guerilla companies fast moves do not hurt like it hurts large companies.
in each startup company it’s most likely to find many titles, VP marketing, VP business development or even VP Environmental Affairs, multiple titles is a disadvantage, creating these structures and matrixes is not always the right way to go, in guerilla companies one employee’s idea can turn into a winning product in opposed to big and corporate companies, there an idea can be lost/ swallowed for many months under countless long meetings & discussions, companies can and need to take over abandoned territories left behind by the big competitors.
Another classic principle of attacking a particular segment of the population, whether age range, income or occupation, this is an excellent method to focus the your efforts, a cell specific area to control, always after creating and concurring the “core” you can always expand, do not try to contact everyone, turn to those likely to use your product than the competition’s, know how to produce the correct differentiation at the local level (the positioning of your product) try constantly at this point until you get complete control in this area, do the calculations right before going to the new “cell area”, going out to the “open filed” (kill zone) could cost you dearly.
Another important principle is focusing on a particular industry, many experts call this “vertical marketing”, the strategy here is a strategy of going deeper and narrower and not wider or shallower, if a guerrilla company begins adjusting its systems, processes to other industries – consider it a problem!
There are many companies that focus on markets with a unique product that is different of other products, this approach also does not push the competition to run over you, you do not always have to make noise sometimes it’s better to do things quietly, focus on your product and create a differentiation, do not try to expand before you reach a point where your products sell on “auto-pilot”… allocate all your resources in order to create a well established mechanism, a product with rich features and functionalities that appeals to a crowd or niche, support it technologically, support its clients, try to improve and streamline until you reach the point where you have established presence, you need to produce feasibility, “Mysticism”, sometimes we would use a lower price tactic… suddenly people will ask “Oh … look …. A terrific price…. Why?” It creates an opportunity to tell customer that the price today does not represent the desired benefits and that you can be cheaper (low-price tactics have great significance and weight…think seriously before you use it, these kind of tactics must be applied after serious considerations – it can affect your future positioning. an excellent example of this is the campaign of a snack bag for the Arab sector here in Israel, that company sold snack packages for 1NIS each! it was a crazy frenzy After a period of time when the company tried to raise the price of the snack bag – no one bought it!
Strategic partners – “alliances”
Establishing affiliation or strategic partnerships are an excellent method to gain power and establish presence, it can be divided into two:
1. Top down – companies such as McDonald’s or coca cola and even the national pizza chains “pizza hut” are establishing distribution channels / affiliates = it’s practically small guerrilla companies (in the retail business we call it Franchising) they are establishing presence and begin to earn power by running a complex array of sophisticated guerrilla companies that sells their products.
2. Bottom up – a little more creative approach that also consumes fewer resources, creating a network of “agents” who exchanges information among themselves over time and produce a well oiled mechanism that sells a product by operating many agents, always ask who’s the competition, sometimes your competition is also your neighbor, you can see it everywhere, one opens a business and the other opens the same business across the street, an excellent reason to join a large network, creating “alliances” can help us fight the competition (“our enemy’s enemy is our friend ”) even if the competition is far away Try to take it to the same layers I was talking about before, demographic, alliances and geographical alliances.
They say that out of 100 companies, one must defend, two play on offense, 3 are flanking or detouring and – 94 wage guerrilla wars
These principles of guerrilla warfare are drawn in a very schematic way and are the basis of this theory (no doubt you can write books about it and probably some things deliberately dropped from this post ), I personally learn about this great methodology every day that passes and I am always thrilled to discover new and interesting things, I really think we should take things into perspective, to truly understand who we are, what we sell and how, do not try to jump too high or dive to deep set realistic goals and objectives, I was taught that it’s always better to rely on your strengths, focus your efforts …the right place with the right dose, use these techniques at any point, in a meeting with your customers and / or competition, know which 20% brings the 80%, get that relative advantage, where you can feel free to work, where you can base your control, whether it’s counting blogs relevant to your world or PPC campaign on Google adwords.