Unleash Your Potential with a Defensive Marketing Strategy

Unleash Your Potential with a Defensive Marketing Strategy

By Wednesday April 25th, 2018

Companies spend an exorbitant amount of time thinking about growth as increasing things like leads, customers and profits, but there’s value in taking a defensive approach to see where the greatest opportunities are lost.

I was playing Othello with my wife recently. I remembered playing the game as a kid, but hadn’t played for 20 years or more. She gave me the abridged version of the instructions to jog my memory and let me move first.

It’s important to note that I lose to my wife in just about anything with a game board or a deck of cards, but somehow I pulled out a win in this game of Othello. She’s quite the competitor and did not like losing. I told her honestly, “I used the same simple strategy with every move,” which only made her more annoyed.

What did I do to win? Not once did I make a move to achieve the greatest number of flipped chips in my favor at the end of my turn. Instead, every move was focused on limiting the potential damage from my wife on her next turn.

It was 100% a defensive strategy. There were times where I was tempted to go after a big offensive move, but I stuck with the strategy and it paid off.

How does this apply to business strategy?

I started thinking more about that game of Othello and it occured to me that I spend far too much time and energy being offensively minded. I am constantly thinking about increasing things… traffic, new customers, revenue, profit, knowledge, experience. Brolik’s clients are similarly all very offensively minded. They come to us to increase their leads, new customers and revenue.
Are we all spending too much time thinking with an offensive mind?

Should we be asking ourselves more often what we shouldn’t be doing, or what losing looks like, instead of what we should be doing more of?

Why is defense so underrated?

Defense just isn’t as exciting as offense. Do you remember the second baseman with the multiple gold gloves or the home run champion? Easy… you remember the offensive star… the goal in the final seconds, the three pointer to win, the knockout punch. Also, “defense” reads passive and worse, “defensive” reads weak. No one wants to be known for that.

So people focus on more. More offense, more points, more leads, more money, more options, more stuff.

What if each move we made was not done to go after the most aggressive gain, but to minimize the damage of the resulting counter move of our opponent. What if we could incrementally improve or remove the things that hold us back the most?

Go ahead, ask the defensive question…

While everyone is perfecting their offense, I want you to try something else. While defensive strategy can also apply to defending your positioning in relation to competing brands, the following exercise focuses on your customers.

Instead of trying to figure out why a customer buys your product, why they love your brand, why they refer you to a friend, why they become a lifelong customer, ask, “why not.”

My recommendation is to ask, “why not?”

Asking “why not” is a defensive strategy and it helps to change your perspective.

Start with your direct customer.

Common “why not” questions

  • Why won’t they buy your product?
  • Why won’t they recommend you to someone else?
  • What would keep you from getting to your goal?
  • What does losing look like?

Once you’ve asked the hard questions of your direct customer, try something else.

When you ask “why not” questions this time, imagine you are posing the question to someone in your outer circle (say a coworker or 2nd cousin or college friend). Why would this person tell someone in their inner circle (sibling, parent, spouse) “not” to buy your product or service. That’s the “why not?” you want to uncover. It will likely uncover some deeper answers and flaws.

Your goal is to get rid of the reasons why someone would tell their loved one not to buy from you. Really dig deep and focus in on their conversation, and you’ll find you probably know exactly what the answers are.

The answer to “why not” will inform your defensive strategy, helping you to remove the things that weigh you down the most. If you do this right, you should uncover the top reasons you lose business to the competition. Once you know what these main fears or hesitations are, go after the “why not” with full force and priority, like you are pruning a dying tree of its diseased leaves.

You won’t be able to remove all negative aspects or weaknesses of your product or brand, but any progress is good. Even if you are able to reframe your customer’s thinking just a tad to make an inherent challenge seem less painful to them in their buying process, that’s a huge step in the right direction. For example, you may be able to identify a common concern people have that keeps them from referring you to their friends, and instead of avoiding the topic, make sure to speak to that concern in your initial sales conversations. It may get them over the hump for future referrals.

Once you shed the weight and build your defense, you can move back to focusing on your offense.

You just had to ask the right question to start: “why not?

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About the Author

Jason is co-founder and CEO of Brolik, a digital agency in Philadelphia. As an entrepreneur, Jason is passionate about helping other business owners navigate the complicated journey of owning a business and developing marketing strategies to grow their brand.
Follow @jaybrew on Twitter or connect with Jason on LinkedIn or Google+