Five Business 'Plays' Score Big Points in Marketplace

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Pawlak

"The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Lead in Any Market" by John Zagula and Richard Tong, Portfolio, $22.95.

Taking their cue from "there are only seven plots to movies," these former Microsoft branding executives have created the five plays (ploys?) of marketing. Each of the five plays includes its "why" and "when."

The authors believe that, while there are only five plays, knowing which play to call involves analysis of internal capabilities, competitors' strengths and weaknesses and the market's big picture. At various times at Microsoft, the authors used each of the five plays.

Here are their five plays:

1. Drag Race (Offensive). Challenge one competitor. Why: Market share and dominance. When: 1. You want a slice of a big player's share. Be careful that the big player doesn't view the game as a chance to eliminate you. 2. Eliminate a competitor. Make sure you have the resources to fill the void; if you don't, others will fill it.

2. Platform Play (Defensive). Hold a market leadership position by using the strength of your stakeholders. In particular, suppliers and customers must see the "what's in it for me?" before you can count on their continued support.

3. Stealth Play (Offensive). Identify service or product gaps and build a niche market. Netflix married online ordering with overnight delivery to create a convenient alternative to going to a video rental store. Visio (now part of Microsoft) used Microsoft Office as the base for its flowchart programs.

4. Best of Both (Offensive). Value play that deals with filling a large mid-market gap. …