If you accept that the folks at Microsoft probably know a thing or googolplex about marketing, and given that marketing is essential for moving products and even ideas within and without any organization, then it might be worthwhile for you to spend some time with The Marketing Playbook. It was written by two former Microsofters-turned-venture capitalists: Zagula was involved in the development and launch of the Microsoft Office brand; Tong was vp of Marketing and Business Development for Windows, Office, and BackOffice.They say there are five ways to go to market:
Drag Race: “In some circumstances, your best bet calls for singling out one competitor and putting the pedal to the metal racing against them to win the category.” It is important to emphasize the one here, because they point out, “It doesn’t pay to claim that you’re better than everyone else.” Because you probably aren’t.
The Platform Play: At this point you’re established. So here it is “about being in the center of an industry ecosystem and benefiting from its network effects.” The network of your customers. And suppliers. And others you affect in the market. “In a Drag Race, better-faster-cheaper is critical. But in a Platform Play, it’s not about being cutting edge. It’s about having the right set of products that are safe to bet on.”
The Stealth Play: This is described as being “like a quarterback sneak.” In other words, you go where the others aren’t looking. One thing to do here is to pick a niche and then be so good at it that it’s impossible for another company to pick up on your move.
The Best-of-Both Play: The authors use an automotive example: Lexus. It combines the best of both in that when it first appeared, “Japanese” was equated with “quality,” not “luxury,” but it managed to provide buyers with quality and luxury. “In order to combine two ends of an industry, look for situations have existed long enough for their contrast to be real and noticeable. Both ends of the trade-off have to be established and mature enough to be worth the effort to collapse them.”
The High-Low Play: This is a counter to the Best-of-Both. Here your offerings don’t provide a compromise. One of the problems with pulling this off: “It’s one thing to promise people all the things they wanted in one complete package; that’s a promise that people will at least listen to. It’s another thing to remind them that they really do have to make trade-offs, that they really can’t have it all, not without paying a price one way or another.”—GSV