Key Markets

Key means that you and many of your competitors seem evenly matched. The general behavior is that you would not openly oppose an equally strong rival.

However, you may find that a competitor is attempting to dislodge you from a long-held position with the clear aim of taking away customers or disrupting your supply-chain relationships. Then you may be forced to launch a counter effort by concentrating as many resources as possible to blunt the effort. Such actions are appropriate, however, if they fit your overall strategic objectives.

Therefore, keep the big picture in mind: If you expend excessive resources in hawkish-style actions such as price wars, then you may be left with a restricted budget to defend your market position. In any event, you want to make sure that any confrontational action you take is the “true center of gravity.”

Linked Markets

In this category, you and your competitors are linked with easy access to markets. Your best strategy is to construct barriers around those niches (decisive points) that you value most, and from which you can best defend your position.

Barriers you can create include

Above-average quality Feature-loaded products First-class customer service Superior technical support Competitive pricing On-time delivery Generous warranties Patent protection

Not only do you build barriers against competitors’ incursions, you also benefit by solidifying customer relationships. In particular, customer loyalty gives you a long-lasting, profit-generating advantage that is difficult for a competitor to overcome.

It is the one area that makes a meaningful addition to your growth. As one management analyst put it: “If you currently retain 70 percent of your customers and you start a program to improve that to 80 percent, you‘ll add an additional 10 percent to your growth rate.”

If a mere demonstration is enough to cause the enemy to abandon his position, the objective has been achieved.


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