Flanking marketing warfare strategies are strategies designed to minimize confrontational losses.
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The fundamental principles involved are:
- Avoid areas of likely confrontation. A flanking move always occurs in an uncontested area.
- Make your move quickly and stealthfully. The element of surprise is worth more than a thousand tanks.
- Make moves that the target will not find threatening enough to respond decisively to.
Types of flanking strategies
Flanking strategies can be either offensive or defensive:
- Flanking Attack (offensive) - This is designed to pressure the flank of the enemy line so the flank turns inward. You make gains while the enemy line is in chaos. In doing so, you avoid a head-on confrontation with the main force. The disadvantage with a flanking attack is that it can draw resources away from your center defense, making you vulnerable to a head-on attack. In business terms, a flanking attack involves competing in a market segment that the target does not consider mission critical. The target competitor will not be as concerned about your activities if they occur in market niches that it considers peripheral. It usually involves subtle advertising campaigns and other discrete promotional measures, like personal selling and public relations. It often entails customizing a product
for that particular niche. Rather than finding uncontested market niches, the attacker could also look for uncontested geographical areas. The strategy is suitable when:
- The market is segmented
- There are some segments that are not well served by the existing competitors
- The target competitor has relatively strong resources and is well able to withstand a head-on attack
- The attacker has moderately strong resources, enough to successfully defend several niches
- Flanking Position (defensive) - This involves the re-deployment of your resources to deter a flanking attack. You strengthen your flank if you think it is vulnerable. The disadvantage of this defense is that it can distract you from your primary objective and siphon resources away from where they are needed most. In business terms, this involves the introduction of new products, product lines, or brands, the defensive re-positioning of existing products, or additional promotional activity in a market niche. It requires market segmentation and/or product differentiation. You protect against potential loss of market share in a segment by strengthening your competitive position there.
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