Asymmetric Marketing for Small Business

As senior marketing and sales executives, we all know that business isn't fair. Most marketplaces, particularly for consumer goods, are a zero-sum game. Somebody wins - and someone loses.

On the playground and in sports we learned to play fair and that in a fair contest the winner was always the one who played a better game. But in business, there are big companies and small companies. There are companies with powerful brands and those who are starting up. There are companies with tons of cash and those who struggle to make payroll. Business is not a fair fight.
 

Leveling the Playing Field

If we are going to do battle in the marketplace with competitors that have a massive advantage, how are we to survive - much less win?
 
In order to compete and win, we need to find and employ asymmetric strategies, tools, and processes that will level the playing field.
 
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath - Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants said:
 
"Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty. And, that we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong. We misread them. We misinterpret them. Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness."
 
Well, easy for him to say. He's not trying to make his annual revenue target while competing for shelf space against a 100-year-old brand with deep pockets.
 
If we are to win on a playing field that is not level or win in a tremendously uneven battle, we must find and employ equalizers, force multipliers, and tools that give us an asymmetric advantage.
 
What are these magical tools, you ask? Well, there are many analogs for asymmetric tools. Let's look to physics as a starting point (yes, physics).
 
Archimedes said:
 
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
A lever is a powerful tool that allows one to exert a small amount of effort to exert a larger amount of force. The two factors in the employment of a lever are the length of the lever and the position of the fulcrum.
Business Leverage

Leverage is one of those business buzzwords that is overused and often misunderstood as well. The word leverage can be used as either a noun or a verb. The definitions are:

noun:
The exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever.

verb:
Use (something) to maximum advantage.

I get it, you may say. But how does this concept apply to me and my small business in my battle against Goliath?

Well, there a few ways. Two highly effective asymmetric concepts in business are information and agility.

1) How do I make information asymmetric? Focus on the right information. The large majority of market research done by large companies is attitudinal research, meaning that they ask participants what they think and how they feel. But, as we all know, what you think and what you do are not always (maybe not even usually) the same. If you conduct research that combines attitudinal insights and behavioral insights, you will come away with information that is asymmetrically superior to that being collected by your competitor.

Big companies have a very hard time executing on information. These companies have momentum, history, and a culture that forces them to continue along an existing trajectory. Even if they learn something new that should change their strategy, they are rarely able to make the pivot in time to exploit the insight.

The example of Kodak obtaining the very first digital photography patent, and then being essentially put out of business by that same technology is a vivid image of this concept. In today's world, we call small companies that exploit new technologies and ideas quickly, disruptors. But all they are doing is exploiting their ability to move quickly and address an opportunity while their competitors continue along the same trajectory that they have been on for decades. There are hundreds of examples of this.

2) Agility is an inherent advantage for smaller organizations. Your smaller business should have the ability to adapt more easily and more quickly than your larger competitors. You can learn something new, come up with a plan to take advantage of that insight, and implement it - all before Goliath can schedule the quarterly strategy meeting to discuss their ideas. This agility is one highly asymmetric concept that can level the playing field for you.

Asymmetric Marketing for Small Business

This is one of several articles on Asymmetric Marketing for small business. Click here to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss the next article. If you want to talk with me about implementing Asymmetric Marketing to help you win your uneven battle, click here to set up a time. No cost or obligation, let's just talk.

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Mark Hope

Mark A. Hope is the founder and CEO of Asymmetric Marketing – a unique agency specializing in building high-performing sales and marketing systems, campaigns, processes, and strategies for small businesses. Asymmetric has extensive experience with organizations across many industry segments. If you would like some help in implementing ideas like these in this article, feel free to give Mark a call at 866-607-3593 or by email at [email protected]

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