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Marketing Warfare

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Marketing Warfare


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Mount up your army, set a strategy based on the enemy’s weaknesses, and plunge into battle. Are we at war? No, we’re the marketing department, guerilla-style. Ready, aim, fire!

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


Al Ries and Jack Trout’s book marches to a military drumbeat, as you might guess from the dedication to Karl von Clausewitz, "one of the greatest marketing strategists the world has ever known." Advice abounds for the testosterone-impaired, including football references and quotations from Gen. Patton. It offers an incisive, if militaristic, strategic marketing perspective. At one point the authors feel the need to clarify: "We don’t mean [to advise] undermining leaders by dynamiting their plants or interdicting their rail centers. That’s a physical way of looking at marketing warfare." This book proves that the "us-against-them" mindset thrives, even in this era of joint ventures. If you believe Bill Gates succeeded because he was a nice young man, this book probably isn’t for you. Otherwise, snap to attention, soldier, for a few lessons in the art of marketing warfare. recommends this book to those who need to influence consumers’ minds. Read it quick - before your enemy does.


Customer or the Competition?

What’s more important - trying to please the customer, or outwitting your competition to get the customer’s business? The correct answer - although perhaps not in vogue - is beating your competition. That’s the battle you must win to succeed in business. With the rise of mass media following World War II, corporate leaders became consumer-oriented. Pleasing the customer became the object of the game. As a result, in today’s business environment, all companies focus on the customer, relying on focus groups and market research. Because they all based their strategies on customer needs and desires, they all use the same tactics to try to capture the same audience.

Instead, to be successful today a company must focus on its competitors - keenly analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, and probing for opportunities to outflank and outmaneuver them. In other words, today’s marketing environment closely resembles warfare.

The Harsh Realities of the Battlefield

Plenty of myths stem from the current customer-oriented outlook. One is that the better product inevitably will win out in the marketplace. "Truth will out," marketing managers...

About the Authors

Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote the marketing classic Positioning. As students of business strategy and marketing tactics, they have earned international recognition for their speeches, books, and articles on these subjects. They cite the rise of the global economy as one reason their marketing-warfare analogy is more apropos than ever.

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