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In the Sport of Marketing, Are You Playing Offensive or Defensive?

Every marketing strategy is unique, depending on your company’s unique positioning and brand characteristics.

However, when it comes to how your business shows up in the market’s competitive landscape, there are two main approaches companies take: an offensive marketing strategy, or a defensive marketing strategy.

Just as in sports, both offensive players and defensive players serve a specific role on the field. Similarly, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your business’s approach to navigating your industry competitors. The key is to know your brand, make an informed choice about which approach you’re going for, and go all in.

Today, let’s dive into both types of strategies – offensive and defensive – and what each approach entails!

Offensive Marketing Strategy

An offensive marketing strategy primarily focuses on achieving competitive advantage, and directly targeting competitors through action.

Just as someone playing offense on a soccer team goes out into the opponent’s domain and makes powerful moves, an offensive strategy often involves a company going out into the market and actively pursuing new initiatives and methods to “outplay” their competition.

A company that chooses an offensive approach is more likely to invest in research and development, along with new technologies, as a means of staying ahead of the curve – and ahead of their competitors.

Earlier, we mentioned that an offensive marketing strategy focuses on the act of gaining competitive advantage.

While this can look different for everyone, here are a few methods businesses use:

  • Product differentiation

  • Lower price-point

  • Increased resources

  • Technological advantages

  • Innovation

  • First entry in underserved markets

Oftentimes, companies will choose an offensive marketing strategy if they are a brand challenger, meaning that – despite their hopes and dreams – they are not yet the market leader.

By stepping into the market leader’s territory through their offensive marketing approach, many challengers hope to bring an alternative to the table to capture some of the competition’s market share.

Defensive Marketing Strategy

Many companies go for an offensive marketing strategy, but others prefer to hold onto what they have through a more defensive approach. This is more often the case with market leaders than it is with their up-and-coming challengers.

While the offensive approach is all about gaining market share, a defensive marketing strategy stays focused on ensuring that the company doesn’t lose any. To go back to the soccer comparison, it’s similar to how defensive players try to protect against a goal being scored on their end of the field – as opposed to going out and approaching the competitor’s goalpost.

The key word in a defensive marketing strategy is retention. In this framework, brands focus on retaining:

  • Market share

  • Customer loyalty

  • Profit margins

  • Brand perception

As noted, it’s more common for market leaders to take a defensive approach than it is for incoming challengers. While leaders have an established market presence and a sense of security and longevity, challengers typically must make moves to establish any kind of lasting presence. If they were to stay defensive in their approach, chances are they wouldn’t make a strong enough market entry to last.

Regardless of whether you feel an offensive or defensive marketing approach is right for your business, the key is to stay aware of the market, and your competition’s actions.

In sports, the moves you make must be made with intention and eyes wide open. Marketing is no different.

Seeking guidance on whether an offensive or defensive marketing approach is right for your company, and how to execute accordingly? At CRAFT, we excel at building strategies to help brands succeed in the marketplace. Contact us today!

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