Marketing wars (and where does Habr)

    Hi Habr! Long ago, I read the book Marketing Wars . It tells about a rather interesting point of view: an attempt to associate strategies in marketing with strategies in a war.


    Therefore, in this article I will briefly talk about the principles from the book, give a couple of examples from life and explain what Habr has to do with it.


    What are the marketing maneuvers?


    First of all, the authors argue that different companies (in size) have different capabilities (which is so far obvious). Moreover, a small company in the local market can often resist a large company.


    However, what is the best way to act? From the table of contents of the Russian edition:


    The authors identify four main types of marketing strategies:
    • defensive: only a strong one can afford to defend effectively, if a competitor starts an attack - do everything to choke
    • offensive: only talented generals can fight successfully; find the enemy’s weakness by attacking, do not spray
    • guerrilla: the segment of the market you are applying for should not be more than you are able to successfully defend; survival tactics of small companies among "business sharks"
    • flank: a successful flank maneuver can only be done in that segment of the market in which the competitor has weak positions; the success of a flank strike is in its surprise.

    I will not retell the entire book, for then the article will be indecently large. I will only retell a number of theses with justification ideas.


    First of all, we will consider an isolated market (for example, the market of carbonated drinks). He is good because he has a leader on it (for the United States and for the time of writing the book) - this is Coca Cola. It also has several second-place companies, such as Pepsi. If we consider the main company, then its main task is to keep the market and negotiate with the state. It is quite interesting that user convenience is not in the first place, rather you just need to maintain the level. You can even now notice that the general style of popular carbonated drinks practically does not change: the same brands, the same tastes, the same quality, the same price, the same advertising with trucks for the New Year.


    I repeat the thesis: the market leader first of all follows the states and the closest competitors. He has enough money to respond to unexpected actions from the same Pepsi. However, it is much more difficult to fight against antitrust authorities, because the market share should not increase radically. It should be more or less the same.


    What can Pepsi do? Oddly enough, but its task is to more or less repeat the products of the leader, try to keep up. Of course, you can make an attack , for example - create your own carbonated drink. Or buy a small company for the sake of a license for the formula, to start producing everything in the factories (this will be the very attack that Pepsi did several times). However, it is more important to keep up. If the leader has an orange-flavored carbonated drink, you must have the same.


    So, the thesis: second-tier companies should primarily focus on the leader. User convenience is also important for them, but often the repetition scheme gives good results.


    With guerrilla attacks, everything is simple: you keep a very small amount of the local market, but you create the most convenient product for customers. And it is important that on the one hand you have the opportunity to maintain this market share. On the other hand, this market should not be very interesting for sharks (in terms of profit). The authors cite a good analogy with Jeep cars, which were small enough not to interest most families in the United States, but passable enough to interest people who need to navigate difficult terrain . In fact, the owners of the company occupied a small niche that was not interesting to large corporations (the same Ford), but the products were still in demand.


    A flank attack is that your competitor is big enough so that he cannot quickly respond to your actions, thereby giving you market share. For example, how can you attack Coca Cola when it began to distribute its vending machines in the USA, which were programmed for a certain price of a bottle (and it was difficult to change the price, since everything was in 1962, so the price was programmed at the factory)? Of course, reducing the price or increasing the volume of the bottle. It so happened that Coca Cola spent a considerable budget on the distribution of machines, which very quickly began to lose Pepsi in terms of price / quality.


    As you noticed, in my retelling I divided the companies into the following categories:


    • Market leader
    • Second tier companies
    • Local firms

    And we have four kinds of actions:


    • Defense (essentially a response to competitors)
    • Attack (standard actions, such as releasing a new product, with high costs for marketing, development, etc.)
    • Flank attack (unexpected actions that are extremely difficult for the market leader to answer)
    • Partisan attack (we firmly hold a small, but localized market share; the leader simply will not notice us)

    The task of the market leader is to defend and advance. Simple and unsophisticated. He is already a leader. His task is to defend his position.
    The task of second-tier companies is to take the market share of the leader. Ideally, it is better to do flanking maneuvers, but one should not forget about simple attacks.
    The task of local firms is to quietly partisan.


    And what about life examples?


    A good example of a flank attack is the work of Tesla (the one that makes cars). The fact is that despite the seemingly standard components, market leaders simply cannot make the same machine. From my subjective point of view, this is incredibly cool: you have a product that can be repeated, but it has a number of functions that simply cannot appear in the cars of large concerns here and now.


    So, here are these points:


    • Adaptive cruise control with the Autopilot brand. It seems Mercedes has the same cruise control. And Huindai showed a video with him back in 2014 . However, if Mercedes begins to advertise its cars in the style of "read the tablet - the car will drive by itself," then it will immediately receive a lot of lawsuits (for example, for dead drivers). But it’s hard to sue Tesla (the company's turnover is less, less money).
    • A futuristic design (just an iPad without levers, etc.) in the cabin that does not fit the style of Toyota, VW, etc. You yourself have seen a lot of comments on the topic of “unusual driving,” however when buying Tesla you take a new brand of car, that is we have no exaggerated expectations from her. And when you buy a BMW you take a BMW, with well-known headlights and a radiator grill. Corporations simply cannot produce cars with an unrecognizable appearance. This fact was very unexpected for me, but it is a fact - the style of the company should be the same. And this step is essentially used by Tesla (I don’t know, accidentally or intentionally).
    • A different production scheme. The same VW at one time said that in order to transfer the factories to the production of electric vehicles, he would need to lay off about 8,000 people. This is an extremely unpopular and potentially expensive step. And besides, new assembly lines still have to be done, so corporations, unlike Tesla, have costs not only for creating new plants, but also for stopping old ones.

    Another example of guerrilla action is the Nintendo Wii game console. She has clearly identified the main market - this is Japan (although more precisely - lovers of Japan). And the manufacturer is trying to protect this market as far as possible, which makes it possible to ignore the main players. In fact, the rear of the Wii manufacturer is out of reach, which makes a profit.


    Examples of brute force attacks can be seen with the naked eye. For example, if you return to the same consoles, the release of a new and faster version of PS / XBox is the same attack. We spent a lot of money on development and marketing, and in return received a strengthening position. Or, in the case of the XBox: added the ability to work with the console as a media player or advanced TV. The scheme is simple (by the way, according to the authors of the book, this is a standard Microsoft scheme) - they spent a lot of resources on creating an additional function, and without regard to profit. This is a plus of a large corporation - it has an inexhaustible budget. She can afford to keep a loss-making product for years.


    Another example of a flank attack is Xiaomi's actions. This is a new company that can experiment (unlike Apple). The reason is a simple idea: the company from Steve Jobs has two features:


    • A large amount of money. Lawyers know this, and therefore any mistake can lead to compensation requirements (including implicit, such as recalling phones). In this case, you simply can’t take risks, only proven solutions are used.
    • Reputation of the manufacturer of "reliable devices". And yes, I know that not all devices are reliable. And the phrase "manufacturer of trusted devices" is not the same as "manufacturer of trusted devices." However, there is a reputation, and it brings money.

    Xiaomi successfully uses this, and therefore at one time they released Mi 4s, which never received a global firmware, despite the promise . In the case of Xiaomi, this is normal, they made an experimental phone, they sold it, but decided not to develop it. In the case of Apple, even a similar evasive answer could lead to phone returns, as well as reputational losses.


    I do not claim that Xiaomi executives did the wrong thing, just the opposite: they take advantage of the lack of a long-term reputation (compared to Apple). Hence, they can act as a local company, that is, work with customers who are willing to work with a phone that has "some imperfections compared to advertising and competitors."


    And where does Habr?


    Watching the changes of this site, I came to the conclusion that a number of actions are simply wrong (of course, only if we accept the hypotheses from the book Marketing wars). If you try to tie the Habr to any sector on the Internet, we get that the site is something in between a news site, a platform for blogs and a social network.


    In the market of news sites, Habr is more authoritative in technical issues related to IT. In fact, this is a typical partisan who clearly holds its market sector. And the authority of the resource earlier (and perhaps now) was expressed in the fact that only those people who could write an article at least about something related to IT could create content on the portal.
    Similarly about the blogging platform - if on Medium there can be blogs about almost anything, then on Habr they are only about IT (and what is close to it). Thus, the site is "localized", but the value of its audience for the advertiser increases (because it is very targeted).
    Formally, Habr is also suitable for the definition of a social network , but still with the same partisan angle.


    So, let's try to build a logical connection:


    • There are three main categories of firms with respect to the market: leader, second tier, local firm (recall - this is just a hypothesis from the book)
    • Habr plays on the market of social networks (for communication), news sites (in the style of "who should read while the code is compiled") and blogs ("where to write to be noticed")
    • In all three markets, Habr is a "local company", i.e. occupies a small volume of the market, but its audience is clearly defined, i.e. IT.
    • From the points above (and from the reasoning of a rather authoritative book ) it follows that the local firm should be content with small ones and engage in guerrilla attacks. Or in another way:
      • The focus of articles should not be sprayed. IT and only IT. Even this article can be on the resource for only one reason - it is in the Habrahabr blog.
      • Do not smear the audience mixed with competitors. If pikabu is written "here anyone can read and write", then the Habr style "only a person who knows at least something about IT" can read and write here

    All the basic facts follow only from hypotheses (albeit quite plausible and authoritative), so it is better to treat the consequences with a fair amount of skepticism. However, it turns out that now (yes, right now) Habr is making the following errors:


    • Read And Comment significantly increases the audience. Moreover, the targeting of the audience is reduced. If earlier only those who lived in Habré found the strength to write a little technical, now on this site:
      • Multi-accounts - proof . Question 1: will the reputation of the resource decrease if they decrease for “content fillers”? Question 2: is it easier or harder to hold part of the market if reputation is declining?
      • Holguin bots - proof with a beautiful commentary thread . As I understand it, on Habré they are still quietly fighting this scourge.
    • A mix of focus from IT to "talk about IT":
      • AUE authors of articles - proof on comment . I think it is precisely conversations on the concept that the IT market lacks.
      • Selling a Chinese illiquid proof on an article by a marketer who was able to sell through geektimes . And if at a time when the grass was greener, the Habra marketer could argue that "we have technically savvy article authors," but now you can safely add "as well as marketers who do not know what a processor is, but they’re advertising illiquid "
      • Announcements from corporate blogs - [proof on an article with zero technical]

    And the conclusion?


    Often, a company's marketing policy can be built and evaluated based on these simple principles. Moreover, these actions give quite tangible results with the correct market assessments (and in the absence of absolutely global shocks). Of course, we must not forget that all these are only hypotheses, although they are believable and working. But how much they workers can be estimated in a few years, because Habr is now striving to move from "guerrilla action" to wider attacks in their markets.


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