Thursday, March 18, 2010

Asymmetrical warfare.

Most clients think of marketing as a Napoleonic set-piece--one giant army ranged against another giant army on the field of battle. In fact marketing looks nothing like that.

I just heard on NPR that Blockbuster is well-nigh belly-up. Gone. Undone by Netflix and Redbox. Blockbuster who, it once seemed was on nearly every corner, was undone by asymmetrical warfare. Both Netflix and Redbox said "we can't go head to head against a giant, so we'll find another way to subdue it."

Redbox is probably the best example. Somebody probably thought, "hmm, Blockbuster has 5000 square foot stores and huge fixed costs (rent). Yet 80% of their income probably comes from the top 15 movies every week. Let's put vending machines in high-traffic areas that dispense those top 15 movies, do it for virtually no money and eat Blockbuster's lunch." Which they have.

This is asymmetrical warfare at its finest. You don't fight against strength. You find a weakness and exploit it.

By definition most marketers are not market leaders. Yet most smaller marketers attempt to go head to head against the market leader and undo them that way.

This is an utter waste of money. And in that I suppose good for holding companies. But it's bad for business. And dumb.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter anymore, George. 50 is the new 65. Where's my Medicare?

bob hoffman said...

Your Redbox example is a wonderful counter-argument to the universally misunderstood "Long Tail" theory.

geo said...

I like tail, long or otherwise.