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Book Rundown Break – Marketing Warfare

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 195 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Book: Marketing Warfare by Al Reis and Jack Trout

Subtitle:A Guide to Marketing with the Assistance of Karl von Clausewitz


  • -Marketing
  • -War

    Interpreted Thesis:The principles of marketing are like the principles of warfare, only the battleground is in the mind.

    Marketing battles are fought inside the mind. Inside your own mind and inside the mind of your prospects every day of the week. The mind is the battleground. A terrain that is tricky and difficult to understand. The entire battleground is just 6 inches wide. This is where the marketing war takes place. You try to outmaneuver and out fight your competitors on a mental mountain about the size of a canteloupe.

    A marketing war is a totally intellectual war with a battleground that no one has ever seen. It can only be imagined in the mind, which makes marketing warfare one of the most difficult disciplines to learn.

    Marketing Warfare is broken into about 3 sections in my mind: the history of war, principles and strategy, and applied theory. Strangely, it was only upon completion of the book that I realized just how good it was. I am quite glad that I stuck with it. I was tempted to write it off as another old marketing book that really meant nothing to current marketing strategy. In the end, I found it was a book with timeless design that is even MORE important in the era of a global economy.

    The book starts with a history of war, that bored me nearly to tears, and I ended up skimming through. I may re-read this someday, but just isn’t really my thing. The book continues with the principles of marketing warfare, which I will probably read repeatedly for years to come. This is the gold. As I was initially reading it, it was tough to grasp, but the applied theory really drives it home. The principles applied to big brand warfare show how the strategies effect the outcome on a macro-marketing scale.

    I really have to make note of some of the principles here for my own future reference, though by themselves they are not really done justice. If you are in business, SEO, or marketing you should definitely read this book.

    There is no such thing as a good marketing strategy in the abstract. Good strategy is bad. And bad strategy is good. It all depends on who is going to use it.

    Concepts of Warfare

  • The principle of force
    Don’t be tempted by the fallacies of a better product, staff, or service. The numbers most generally win. Math tells us this time and time again.
  • The superiority of defense
    A good general never starts a war with lower numbers.
  • The new era of competition
    Synonomy of the language of war and marketing.
  • The nature of the battleground
    The battleground for marketing warfare is in the mind.

    The strategic square
    Four types of warfare: Offensive, Defensive, Flanking, and Guerrilla Principles of defensive warfare

    1. nly the market leader should consider playing defense.
      2.The best defensive strategy is the courage to attack yourself.
      3.Strong competitive moves should always be blocked.

    Principles of offensive warfare

    1. The main consideration is the strength of the leader’s position.
    2. Find a weakness in the leader’s strength and attack at that point.
    3. Launch the attack on as narrow a front as possible.

    Principles of flanking warfare

    1. A good flanking move must be made into an uncontested area.
    2. Tactical surprise ought to be an important element of the plan.
    3. The pursuit is just as critical as the attack itself.

    Principles of guerrilla warfare

    1. Find a segment of the market small enough to defend.
    2. No matter how successful you become, never act like the leader.
    3. Be prepared to bug out at a moment’s notice

    Favorite part:

    In hindsight, most all of it. This book is like reading about how to shoot a better jumpshot, play better poker, or tie better fishing knots. The excitement is not in reading the book. The excitement comes from knowing that the application of the newfound knowledge will enhance your skill level. When these principles become second nature, I know that I will be a better marketer. My favorite part was finishing and knowing that I would re-read the concepts and ideas many times.
    Favorite portions:

    Lots of good stories on the cola wars, beer wars, computer wars, and burger wars. These are the applied theory. It would be very interesting to see these concepts applied to the search war.
    Application to SEO:

    On a macro level – the search war is being fought. Yahoo, Google, and MSN are fighting this war as we speak. In my estimation – Google is search. They have become a verb in the mind of many consumers. The question becomes, is the war really for search, is it for media (which Yahoo has more heavily embraced), or is it really for the living room (which M$ has never stopped wanting).

    On a micro level, we are fighting a new type of marketing warfare everyday in SEO. The battle of the SERPS which makes the battle of the mind nearly less important on the micro level. If I want to know about something, I can search for it before making up my mind. SEO is fighting the same battle for the mind one query at a time. Devising methodology to beat competitors and not become collateral damage by search engines are the dilemmas that we face. Developing a niche and sticking to it is what got most people into SEO. It is time to choose and create new sub-niches both within SEO, and within every now globally fragmented industry that is available for business online.

    Thanks to Mikkel for pointing this one out over at TW.

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