Marketing is War. Part 1: Why Marketing Warfare is the Real Growth Marketing.

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Kyle Börner

Cofounder, Chief Creative Marketer and Strategist

Growth Marketing.

It’s a buzzword these days.  So much so that there are now Growth Marketing or “Growth Hacking” agencies popping up in every metropolitan area.

It’s a trend brought on by the surplus of available marketing technologies.  We really are spoiled, yet overwhelmed by the options, and that’s why these firms are getting outstanding and well-deserved traction (let me know if you’d like a free Growth Marketing Audit).

Growth Marketing is focused on consistently driving more awareness, traffic, conversions, and retention—all of which are crucial to the success of your business.


It’s only part of a much larger picture of growth.

When you’re in business, your priority is to grow the real numbers: AwarenessRevenueMarket Share, and Size… and the only way you’re going to consistently drive those numbers is if you approach marketing like a five-star military general.

Marketing is War.

As you may recall from my recent article “5 Reasons You’re Not Going to Grow in 2020”, customer-first and competitor-first orientations are complementary in their relationship to your organization’s success.

Unfortunately, when we look at 99% of today’s marketing plans, there are more pages dedicated to the customer and the product than there is to the competition.

Huge Red Flag… actually a huge white flag, you’re surrendering to the competition.

Too many companies merely summarize the competition in a one- to two-page report in their marketing plan.  I’ve seen it. It’s awful. A share of voice section here, simple counting stats there, maybe a few bar charts.  When they do expand on the competition, it’s astonishing to discover that they recommend specific marketing programs “just because” the competition is doing the same thing and “supposedly” it’s working for them.

If you’re doing the same thing(s) as your competition, why should your customers care?

Marketing Warfare is your marketing plan from inception to market dominance.

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And why not?  War is all about strategy and execution.

Your enemy = Your competition.

Your objective =  Win more awareness, revenue, market share, size… you name it.

The vast majority of your marketing plan should focus on your competition.  I’m not talking about 5 or 10 companies. I’m talking about as many competitors as your team can handle analyzing and striking without becoming overwhelmed and incapacitated.  Grow from there, but start as soon as possible. Start simple to make progress…

  • What are your competitors’ strengths?
  • What are your competitors’ weaknesses?
  • Who are your competitors’ most valuable decision-makers?

Yes, do your homework on your competitors’ personnel, because just like your favorite war movies, the victor knows their opponent’s tactics 9 times out of 10.

Develop marketing warfare strategies to strike all three of them aggressively, hopefully surprisingly, in very unique ways while also preparing for their response, because if your competition isn’t practicing marketing warfare now, they just may join the fray when you kick the hornet’s nest…

…and you should be open to the battle because competition is a conflict of interests, not a play-for-fun scrimmage.

Key Point:  Your war is far from over.

Don’t think of marketing warfare as one battle.  It’s a war that started with the industry’s second entrant and expanded with the third, fourth, and even last year’s young startup.  No one business has won the war, rather some have out-strategized and out-executed the competition by great lengths, but they’re still spending time defending their position.

As you know, the United States wasn’t always the most powerful country.

But this is where I differ from other thought leaders.  They believe a market leader should concentrate on defense, and their opponents should concentrate on offense.  In the real world of warfare, I would agree, especially for PR reasons, but when it comes down to business, push the pedal to the metal and concentrate on offense!

Your competitors, if they’re doing business right, are after your business.  They’re coming for your ideas, copying them or improving on them, they’re coming for your clients and your prospects, AND they’re coming for your employees.  Take this seriously!

Now some people may seem put off by the term “offensive marketing warfare”, or the recommendation to “destroy” their competition and take what’s “theirs”.  If this is you, continue to concentrate on the short-term benefits of the “other growth marketing” and its incremental advancements, but when your 5% growth rate takes a turn south, don’t be surprised if one or more competitors who took “your” chunk from you learned that marketing is played on a battlefield.

Questions to Inspire

  • What would it mean to your career if you helped the business increase its market share by 20%?
  • What would it mean to your career if you helped the business win customers from the competition?
  • What would it mean to your career if media sources were calling you and not the other way around?

Stay tuned for the second part of this blog series next week!