The Offensive Strategy

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The offensive strategy

The next and the most vital step in the entire procedure is the development of an offensive strategy against competitors. An offensive strategy is a plan that aims to interfere with a competitors' operations, and reduce his performance in any directions. It includes hundreds of possible actions from imitating his products to bombing his factory. Again, every company has a problem in deciding which offensive tactics it finds unacceptable. Also, the methods which a small company would tend to use in harrying a large and powerful market leader (product imitation, head hunting) would tend to differ from the reverse situation in which a large producer wishes to eliminate a small one (e.g. large loyalty rebates, price cuts in the small man's market area). Here again, therefore, a decision has to be made. In studying the following sample of offensive strategies one should remember that these two types of choice are necessary before the list can be used and also that it is only a sample or perhaps a foundation upon which each company must build its own comprehensive list.

A competitor can be attacked via any of the resources used (materials, manpower, mind-power, machines, money) or generated (products, customer loyalty and goodwill). Alternatively one can plan an attack via his marketing operations, financial operations, production operations, or service operations (e.g. R. & D., personnel, legal).

Attack on products

A very useful method is to imitate the competitor's product so closely that the average consumer cannot detect the difference. Advantage is taken of the competitor's research, development and market knowledge but the difficulty lies in the speed with which one can get into production. Sometimes it may even be advisable to market a cheap imitation which will fail or otherwise disappoint a purchaser to bring the competitor's product into disrepute. Product imitation has been one of the basic forms of competitive attack used by Japanese industry for many years.

Closely evaluate the features of the competitor's products and pass this information to representatives in a suitable form for them to attack competitor's products when they meet customers. Some firms have very detailed websitelets on competitor's machines in which all their weaknesses and strengths, but particularly the former, are elaborated.

Try to arrange for special import duties to be levied on competitive products on the grounds of dumping or unfair competition or for other reason. If competitor's products contain harmful or dangerous features it may be possible to arrange for the supplier to be prosecuted.

Introduce a better product.

Attack on raw materials

Buy all the available material by contract.

Persuade raw material suppliers to increase prices to competitors, or not to supply them.

Purchase the companies that supply the raw materials in order to control the supply.

Attack competitor's marketing operations

Show customers as clearly as possible how weak the competitor is on product availability, lead time, after-sales service, etc. Show customer that the competitor supplies others at lower prices.

Persuade overseas Affiliates not to handle competitors' goods or to handle them passively.

Find out details of competitor's forthcoming advertising campaigns and anticipate them by advertisements which will make the subsequent appearance of the competitor's advertisement look foolish or appear to be plagiarisms.

Arrange for subsidiary or related company to purchase from the competitor and inundate him with complaints.

Attack competitor's financial operations

Deliberately involve competitor in costly law suits which weaken his financial strength. This was one of the prime methods used by Paterson in developing the National Cash Register Company in the early years of this century.

Purchase product or materials or services and hold back on payment.

Arrange that the competitor's share prices become depressed so that the public become reluctant to invest.

Ask other companies who supply the competitor how promptly their bills are paid. This may cause them to press for payment.


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