One of my neighbors here in the office stopped by to express his frustration with his lack of business activity. He went on to tell me how things were so much better a few years ago.  He said that there was a time when he was making money hand-over-fist – new clients were just lining up at his door.  Things have obviously taken a turn for the worse and he could only surmise that the current economy and his competitors have it in for him. Truth be told, that’s the case for most of us running small businesses.

Yes, there may have been a time when customers were easy to come by, but things have changed. So, don’t expect that people will magically show up in your store, on your phone or at your Website. In fact, you have to fight for them – you may be forced to wage some tough battles in order to dislodge customers from the clutches of your competitors.

So for today’s article I’d like to take introduce you to three strategies businesses use to fend off competitors. While there are at least seven of them, I thought the following would provide a good foundation:

Frontal Attack
A frontal marketing attack is when you go at your competitor(s) directly. More specifically, you aim your efforts at their core strengths. For instance, if you are in the retail business, a frontal attack on Wal-Mart would require that you take aim squarely on price.  f you choose to take this aggressive approach with your marketing, you must be prepared for an all-out battle with your competitor.  Remember, you’re going after what they do best­.  It is incumbent upon you to substantiate your dominance over your competitor’s strength with consistent, clear evidence.

Flank Attack
Flanking your competitor with your marketing suggests that you are going after weaknesses. Let’s stick with the Wal-Mart scenario for a moment. If your retail establishment cannot fight head-to-head with the low prices of Wal-Mart, you’d opt for an assault on venerable areas. For instance, you’d go after their long lines, lack of specialty products or inexperienced personnel. So if you have discovered obvious vulnerabilities that you’re in a position to exploit, go for it.

Guerilla Attack
A guerilla marketing strategy is all about using a mixed bag of unconventional methods and techniques to unseat your opponent.  For instance, you may opt to create viral Web videos, seek out local product placement opportunities and use social media to your advantage while all of your competitors duke it out in direct mailers or radio. The point is, you catch you competitors off guard by striking at a time and place they’d least expect. By the time they adapt to your “new” marketing plan, you’d already have new tactic waiting in the wings. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this method is akin to "throwing things at the wall." Know that guerilla marketing is methodical – it takes thought and planning. 

Walter Dailey is a marketing speakerand proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small to midsize businesses.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com