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Whenever a company is thinking about marketing a product/service, they classify their strategy in terms of its aggressiveness. There are 4 main classification tiers of marketing aggressiveness strategies, and they are:

  1. Prospector Strategy
  2. Defender Strategy
  3. Analyzer Strategy
  4. Reactor Strategy

Tiers of Aggressiveness Strategies

Prospector Strategy

Prospector Strategy yields the greatest risk due to its deliberate speed in execution.

This is an opportunity-driven approach that largely neglects the collection of new customer data, or market research. The usual thrust behind this high-reward/high-risk effort is a new product launch with real or perceived groundbreaking innovation. Quite regularly, the first one to the ball controls the collective game, and there are huge advantages to be gained from being the first company to launch a unique product.

The first and probably most profitable benefit of being first is the long-term market perception that your product is the leader in that particular innovation. This perception aides in building trust, visibility, and most importantly, sales.

For example, Joe Saunders started the first rent-a-car company in America in 1916, and was eventually bought out by Avis in 1923. However, Hertz was an early competitor of Saunders who technically came before Avis , and therefore is still the market leader today. In fact, Avis proclaimed with pride (both as a differentiation strategy and a publicity stunt) in the 1960s that, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.”

That's okay, because Hertz hit the glibness of Avis back with this little gem of advertising genius:

Prospector Strategy

 

Because Hertz came before Avis and used a Prospector Strategy, they enjoy being the market leader of rent-a-cars to this day.

 

Defender Strategy

A Defender Strategy is largely focused on, for lack of a better analogy, not fumbling the football. They work toward insulating their market share by adopting customer-centric strategies and conservative advertising that maintains market share, instead of acquiring new. They're advertising is usually Institutional Advertising, which celebrates the positive attributes of the company as a whole, and not necessarily its products. Hospitals are notorious for this conservative advertising strategy, so let's take a look why:

  • They have an established presence and rarely adopt innovations, except in the case of research-based institutions
  • They rely heavily on trust of target market, versus aggressive conversion (Reputation versus Acquisition) that may risk turning off prospects, as in the case of car dealers and multilevel marketers
  • They can't facilitate large numbers of customers at one time, but rather focus on steady and consistent growth

 

Marketing-Defender-Strategy

A defender strategy is very useful to organizations that share these attributes; however, ancient Rome adopted this same strategy militaristically, right before being conquered by the Goths, Visigoths and Vandals. And that brings us to our next tier of marketing strategy in terms of aggressiveness.

 

Analyzer Strategy

An Analyzer Strategy is a compromise between a prospecting strategy and a defender strategy. Instead of focusing on groundbreaking innovation, or sitting on market share like a fat kid riding the bench, they make conservative calculations based on a wide variety of market analysis, and tread very carefully in the interest of seizing slow and consistent acquisition of additional market share.

Most established companies will fall under this category as they attempt to seize new opportunities, while not adopting a more venture capitalistic approach of higher risk for higher reward. After all, most President's of organizations would rather ensure their mansion is secure before throwing the dice and either landing on a house in the Hamptons, or an apartment on Staten Island.

 

Reactor Strategy

The Reactor Strategy is where you rely solely on new opportunities as they present themselves... and that's it. It! While this approach has been relentlessly criticized in the past of lacking vision (which is true for the most part), it can be a useful strategy in this day ripe for viral media that can explode into the minds of countless individuals within a very short period of time, attaining escape velocity in visibility, and sales.

Here is a good example retrieved from the Huffington Post:

"An Arizona gun store owner who posted a sign declaring supporters of President Barack Obama unwelcome in his shop has seen a surge of business -- and public response -- after his antics went viral.

Cope Reynolds, the owner of Southwest Shooting Authority in Pinetop, Ariz., told the Arizona Republic that "business is booming" following his public displays of protest. Reynolds also took out a full page ad in the White Mountain Independent which read, "If you voted for Barack Obama, your business is NOT WELCOME at Southwest Shooting Authority. You have proven you are not responsible enough to own a Firearm.""

Here you'll see how reacting to public outcry and criticism of President Obama's stances on gun control propelled this business owner into viral visibility, along with a 'surge' in sales.

Another example of reactive strategy is when Aspirin was being accused of causing stomach ulcers, so Tylenol quickly mobilized their advertising with this message:

Reactive Strategy

While a reactor strategy can be effective for huge gains with seemingly no risk as a result of some controversy or misstep by a competitor, frog fish (an ambush predator) have been known to die while waiting for their food to come to them, instead of the other way around.

Good luck to you, and stay aggressive!

Don't compete — DOMINATE.

Matt Steffen

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Matt Steffen was Listed by Forbes as the #1 Marketing Consultant Who Avoids the B.S.
Matt Steffen was Listed by Forbes as the #1 Marketing Consultant Who Avoids the B.S.

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