Samsung, Apple and Playing Offense in Marketing


It's no secret that many competitors have sought to unseat the iPhone from its no. 1 position. As a marketing professional, I am quite intrigued by the numerous attempts to dent Apple's armor.

In recent days, I've had the opportunity to observe Samsung counter the release of the iPhone 5 with the push of their smartphone - the Galaxy S III.

No matter what side of the mobile-fence you come down on, I believe Samsung's proactive marketing efforts serve as an important lesson for small business owners. If you're in a position in which you are being overrun by a major competitor, it may be time to take the fight to their doorstep.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while attempting to bring down "Goliath":

Respect the incumbentAs you ready your marketing campaign, be sure that you do not underestimate or ignore the very things that have brought your rival to prominence. Remember that your competitor's position is a function of customer loyalty. Therefore, the real battle lies in deposing your opponent while acknowledging the very things that drew customers to them initially.

Locate the weaknessDominant rivals maintain their position because they’re, well, dominant.  It is up to you to identify areas of weakness that may play to your strengths.  In the case of Samsung, they have been hitting Apple on areas such as screen size, lagging technology, waiting in long lines and more.  The point is the areas that they (Samsung) have indentified are valid.  Now the question becomes whether it is possible to shift public opinion based on these deficiencies alone.

 The cost of reprisalGiven what we know about Apple’s vast assets and financial resources, what would happened if they decided to do an about-face and squarely return fire on Samsung?  It is likely that the underdog would find itself underwater.  Know that if you go around picking fights with much stronger, well-funded rivals, the blowback has the potential to cripple you severely. This does not suggest that you should cower in fear.  However, it is advised that you count up the potential cost before becoming an antagonist.

Be sensibleAs you go after a much more established rival, understand that you’re not likely to completely dissolve their influence in the marketplace. Therefore, don’t expect that all of their customers will leave in droves in exchange for what you offer.  Be realistic. Start your campaign by going after the outliers -patrons that have expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the proverbial “leader.” Again, beware of gratuitous competitor–criticism when going down this road. The threat of appearing disingenuous by berating every aspect of the competition may derail your efforts.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Walter is finally on Twitter. Follow him here: @wrdailey