Position Defense Strategy Guide

If you’re faced with having to defend your market share against a challenger company, reinforcing your brand perception may be the way to go

6 min read

Chess pieces to represent a position defense marketing strategy

What should you do in the face of a threat from a competitor? If you’re an established business who enjoys a decent amount of market share, then you need to be able to answer that question. Whether you’re under fire from a challenger at the moment, or fear you’re vulnerable to an attack in the future, you’ll want to be aware of all the possible defense strategies you could deploy to help defend your position in the market.

There are a number of different marketing defense strategies, here we are going to consider the Position Defense Strategy.

What Is a Position Defense Strategy?

When a company adopts a Position Defense Strategy, they are focused on keeping a firm hold on their strong brand perception within the market. This strategy is focused on customer loyalty and consumer awareness. It’s about maintaining and defending your position in the minds of your customer base and prospects in the face of a competitor threat.

An illustration of the position defense marketing strategy to overcome a competitor threat

When Would You Use a Position Defense Strategy?

This can be an effective defense strategy when you firmly occupy the best position in the minds of your audience. If you’re highly regarded by consumers in your market and have built up a strong brand perception and loyalty, then that is potentially one of your strongest assets and defending it to the hill is a good plan.

When you are the premier brand in the market, a challenger company is going to have a job on their hands to unpick the way customers think about your business, organization or product/service, and then an even bigger job to take that mindshare for themselves.

If you are choosing to adopt a Position Defense Strategy, you are recognizing the importance of a strong brand perception and putting the focus in place to ensure nothing derails that. You are building a fortress around your brand.

How Do You Execute a Position Defense Strategy?

Simply put, you deploy defense marketing tactics. Those are the marketing campaigns and initiatives you would associate with preventing customer churn and increasing retention.

The focus should be to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce your positive brand perception. So you’ll want to keep up your customer communications. Make sure you’re staying front-of-mind with multi-touch campaigns to your existing customer base.

Also, make sure your brand voice and promise is consistent across all customer touch points. It might be worth reinforcing it internally and running some refresher training for the customer-facing parts of the business.

Don’t let your brand assets go stale – consider refreshing some of your advertising or elements of your website – just be sure not change the branding as you might risk tampering with your audience perception. You should refreshing your assets to advertise your strengths and remind your audience.

Do something nice for your customers! If you feel like there’s a competitor sniffing around, show your customers some love and remind them why they’re with you/buy from you. Reward their loyalty.

Sure-up your customer service – review everything and make sure it’s all as good as it can be. Take a look at our Complete List of Customer KPIs to get an idea of what to track and where to look for improvements – things like satisfaction scores, response times etc.

What Examples Are There of Position Defense Strategy?

The UK supermarket giant Tesco deployed an effective Position Defense Strategy when Walmart made a challenge to their dominance in the UK market. Tesco launched defensive marketing initiatives that included highly personalized discount offers and rewards to their customers based on their extensive customer data.

This level of data on their customers was a clear strategic advantage for Tesco and by taking action on those insights they were able to offer their customers a level of service that Walmart, or indeed any new player to the market, could not compete with.

They undertook a new and concerted effort to reinforce their customer loyalty in the face of a threat from Walmart.

What Are the Pros of Using a Position Defense?

It focuses you to think about the most important thing to your business, your customers. If you’ve been the market-leading brand for a while complacency might have set in. Responding to a threat from competitors with a Position Defense Strategy will help you reconnect with your core audience and refresh your focus on the people who buy from you.

What Are the Cons of Using a Position Defense?

If you are adopting a Position Defense Strategy and ONLY focusing on the brand perception, you may be neglecting to consider the challenger company’s product or service. If they are developing and offering a superior product, eventually you might find it harder and harder to defend your brand position.

There’s a risk of arrogance with a Position Defense Strategy that might lead a market-leading business to believe their ‘premium’ status will be enough to maintain their market position regardless of how their product or service stacks up against the competition.

For some businesses a Position Defense Strategy might manifest more in throwing their weight around with suppliers, securing patents, going after a monopoly, rather than thinking about the hearts and minds of their customers. It’s important to think of a Position Defense Strategy not in terms of intimidating the challengers with your power and status, but focusing on your customers and maintaining your position in their minds.

Also, if you defend your market position well, you are likely to always be a target for new competitors. So, this defense strategy will need to be ongoing, it’s unlikely that you will be able to relax once one competitor slinks away…. They’ll, no doubt, be another one hot on their heels.

What Alternatives Are There to the Position Defense Strategy?

There are a couple of alternatives to the Position Defense Strategy:

Strategic Withdrawl

Sometimes it makes more sense to exit a market. In many ways it can help you focus on other areas, where growth may come faster or be easier to obtain.

Mobile Defense Strategy

By continuing to change your activities and approach, you make it harder for a competitior to attack your positioon.

Flanking Defense Strategy

Your weakest areas are often the most likely to be targeted, so this strategy focuses on ensuring those weaker parts become strong and effective.

Pre-emptive Defense Strategy

This approach is all about attacking before you are attacked in order to take your competitor/would-be attacker by surprise.

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