The effective execution of strategy is dependent upon properly balancing and orchestrating the campaign forces of interaction and isolation. The overriding effort is to increase our interaction with the customer while denying or isolating our competition. Interaction and isolation forces can be thought of as tactical catalysts which drive strategy. There are thousands of tactics one can deploy in order to create interaction and isolation.
We have integrated Robert Cantrell’s 54 card strategy deck to help catalyze creative strategy and tactics. We have organized Cantrells work into interaction and isolation categories for each of the four major centers of gravity (offering, infrastructure, relationships, execution). Each strategy has a one line description, an explanation of the strategy, the basis for the strategy and a potential application of the strategy.
CG: OFFERING - Tactics that isolate adversary.
Create something from nothing. INTERPRETATION: Demonstrate your willingness to bluff so your adversary doubts your real actions. BASIS: An adversary that doubts the reality of your actions may leave your initiatives unchallenged. TACTIC: Publicly state intentions to open new market. Then don’t.
Prolong the fight. INTERPRETATION: Do not allow your adversary to succeed within his capacity to endure the engagement. BASIS: Over time, not losing may produce the same result as winning. TACTIC: Sustain a price war with adversary’s key customer.
Disorient your adversary. INTERPRETATION: Compel your adversary to redirect until you cause him to make an exploitable mistake. BASIS: An adversary that cannot cope with your maneuvers yields the initiative to you. TACTIC: Launch a minor new product and quickly evolve the feature set causing adversary to react to your changes.
Kick away the ladder after the ascent. INTERPRETATION: Encourage an advance and eliminate the means to retreat. BASIS: A decision to advance without a means to retreat forces a new direction. TACTIC: Entice adversary into a price war he cannot sustain.
Lure the adversary to a bait. INTERPRETATION: Tempt your adversary to expose himself by presenting a prospect for gain. BASIS: The right incentive tempts your adversary to take risks he would normally avoid. TACTIC: Increase price with an incidental customer to test your adversary’s new pricing policies.
Raise the stakes. INTERPRETATION: Challenge your adversary to risk more than he can lose. BASIS: A resultant exposure to excessive risk deters your adversary from opposing you. TACTIC: If adversary is publicly-traded initiate massive price war on a secondary market they will not defend to Wall Street.
CG: OFFERING - Tactics that increase interaction.
Live to fight another day. INTERPRETATION: Retain your potential to act in the future by escaping or evading your adversary. BASIS: Escape and evasion keeps the possibility of victory alive. TACTIC: Withdraw from a losing price war before fatal damage is inflicted.
Raise an icon from the past. INTERPRETATION: Enhance your standing by linking past glory to your present cause. BASIS: Empires rise and fall in the name of ideals. TACTIC: Relaunch a retro-brand.
Change the scope of the engagement. INTERPRETATION: Expand or limit the field of action until key measures of advantage fall into your favor. BASIS: Decisive advantages often reside within alternative boundaries. TACTIC: Offer customers free or discounted features difficult for adversary to duplicate.
Bolt the door behind the thief. INTERPRETATION: Render your adversary powerless by trapping him in a vulnerable position. BASIS: A trapped adversary loses his power to shape the outcome of the engagement. TACTIC: Expose adversary’s quality issues to general market increasing your interaction with new prospects.
Lure the tiger out of the mountain. INTERPRETATION: Entice a formidable adversary to seek an engagement on your terms. BASIS: Engaging an adversary on your terms maximizes the advantages you have. TACTIC: Propose a joint venture to adversary with a proprietary feature of value you own.
Make an example out of another. INTERPRETATION: Defeat a single adversary of merit so others concede without fighting. BASIS: Fear compels the vulnerable to seek your favor or stay out of your way. TACTIC: Use a short term proprietary advantage to smash adversary with a highly- visible customer.
Render the engagement pointless. INTERPRETATION: Neutralize the objective that puts you at odds with your adversary. BASIS: Without an objective your adversary has no reason to act against you. TACTIC: Cease fire in a long-running price war.
INFRASTRUCTURE - Tactics that isolate the adversary.
Leave behind an empty shell. INTERPRETATION: Hide your intentions by appearing to maintain the status quo. BASIS: The status quo does not draw added attention. TACTIC: Feign lack of interest in a adversary’s largest customer.
Loot a burning house. INTERPRETATION: Take advantage of a crisis suffered by your adversary. BASIS: A crisis may keep your adversary from opposing your actions. TACTIC:Adversary suffers denial of service attack on their e-commerce platform allowing challenger to take online customer share.
Fill your camp with empty tents. INTERPRETATION: Create the illusion of strength to change your adversary’s course of action. BASIS: Illusions of strength produce real results against those who hesitate to call your bluff. TACTIC: Advertise for new sales reps, marketers and service personnel for a key market served by your adversary.
Muddy the water to hide the nets. INTERPRETATION: Confuse your adversary so he cannot perceive your intentions. BASIS: Confused adversaries make mistakes they would not make if they grasped your intentions. TACTIC: Announce plans to consider building a new manufacturing plant in adversary’s key market.
Target a center of gravity. INTERPRETATION: Pursue or attain an objective your adversary will seek to protect or recover. BASIS: Targeting an essential part of your adversary’s disposition challenges the balance of power. TACTIC: Acquire a small but critical vendor of proprietary parts to adversary.
Eliminate your adversary. INTERPRETATION: Terminate your adversary’s present and future participation in the engagement. BASIS: Eliminating your adversary undermines his capacity to oppose you. TACTIC: Sue adversary and win a cease and desist order.
Allow your adversary no sanctuary. INTERPRETATION: Threaten your adversary everywhere and all the time. BASIS: The presence of a constant threat impedes your adversary’s preparations and recovery. TACTIC: Launch a large synchronized attack on all customers within adversary’s most important market.
CG: INFRASTRUCTURE - Tactics that increase interaction.
Reveal an injury to gain support. INTERPRETATION: Show you have been injured by a rival of your adversary to gain your adversary’s assistance. BASIS: An adversary with a reason to help you succeed adds to his troubles by doing so. TACTIC: Publicize a major loss to leaders primary challenger.
Befriend the far to address the near. INTERPRETATION: Leverage distant alliances to solve local problems. BASIS: Distant allies tend not to become local adversaries. TACTIC: Use outsourcing or international distributors as a means for building new markets and customers.
Tempt your adversary with a way out. INTERPRETATION: Stop forcing the issue so your adversary stops resisting and tries to escape. BASIS: An adversary set on escape foregoes the protections of his current position. TACTIC: Allow adversary to build a new facility unchallenged in order to create more competition and choice for customers.
Feint in the east act in the west. INTERPRETATION: Draw attention away from your plans with a suitable deception. BASIS: An adversarial force that responds to a deception does not oppose your primary action. TACTIC: Publicly begin searching for offshore manufacturing while planning on expanding in your home town.
Reverse roles from guest to host. INTERPRETATION: Step by step gain authority in an organization that requested your assistance. BASIS: Incremental gains in authority provide a subtle means to assume control of a host from within. TACTIC: Add to competencies by forward integrating via a customer acquisition.
Sheath your sword. INTERPRETATION: Deliberately present your adversary with an opportunity that empowers him to accept your terms. BASIS: Empowering your adversary to accept your terms provides him with an honorable way out of the engagement. TACTIC: Offer favorable joint venture terms to adversary for a desired proprietary technology.
CG: RELATIONSHIPS - Tactics that isolate the adversary.
Leave a vulnerability unprotected. INTERPRETATION: Expose an obvious target to your adversary to make it appear that you have set a trap. BASIS: An adversary’s fear of traps can lead him to pause though no danger exists. TACTIC: Dramatically increase price to an account prized by your adversary who may sense a trap and stay away.
Provoke your adversary’s reaction. INTERPRETATION: Test your adversary’s response before committing to an action. BASIS: An adversary’s response to an action lessens the guesswork in your planning. TACTIC: Test a price cut on a non-strategic customer to test adversary’s response.
Travel in the open without suspicion. INTERPRETATION: Mask your intent behind an ordinary pattern of behavior. BASIS: The ordinary becomes invisible, and the invisible can act anywhere. TACTIC: Use traditional travel patterns to mask important negotiations with key adversary customer.
Show part but not all your plan. INTERPRETATION: Engage your adversary’s attention to set him up for an action from an unexpected angle. BASIS: A real and present engagement distracts your adversary from other concerns. TACTIC: Pre-release marketing strategy with appearances of a premium price offering then sell at a discounted price.
Strike with a borrowed hand. INTERPRETATION: Bring about a conflict between your adversary and a force other than your own. BASIS: A borrowed hand may deliver your desired result while you keep a safe distance. TACTIC: Motivate a mutual and significant vendor to question adversary’s business.
Engage your adversary from many directions. INTERPRETATION: Seek a decisive result with two or more coordinated actions. BASIS: An adversary’s response to one action may leave him vulnerable to another. TACTIC: Attack a large group of similar adversary customers with different offers, features, and prices.
Use overwhelming force. INTERPRETATION: Act with more power and depth than your adversary can handle. BASIS: Every adversary has a breaking point through which his capacity to oppose you collapses. TACTIC: Marshall all your resources to attack and dislodge adversary from a large key account.
CG: RELATIONSHIPS - Tactics that increase interaction
Conceal your purpose behind a smile. INTERPRETATION: Attend to your plans while in your adversary’s confidence. BASIS: In the confidence of your adversary you may reach your objective unopposed. TACTIC: Establish a partnership with adversary while preparing to attack adversary customer.
Provide a center for advantage. INTERPRETATION: Draw others to seek your favor so they become your allies or at least choose not to oppose you. BASIS: Drawing others to seek your favor increases their propensity to help you succeed. TACTIC: Use a blog for a successful product to encourage customers and vendors to comment on their experiences.
Win over your adversary with kindness. INTERPRETATION: Prevail in the face of a formidable adversary by appealing to the leaders vanity. BASIS: Suitable enticements pacify adversaries and open the gates to their fortresses. TACTIC: Form a friendship/partnership with adversary’s CEO.
Lie in wait for an attacking adversary. INTERPRETATION: Challenge your adversary’s plans with an aggressive defense that is prepared to receive him. BASIS: An adversary that attacks your defense as you have prepared it to receive him maximizes your advantages. TACTIC: Launch a massive customer care campaign to pre-empt adversary’s new product launch.
Score a small victory along the way. INTERPRETATION: Use a minor lapse in your adversary’s attention to gain a minor prize. BASIS: Small victories can mean the difference between winning and losing. TACTIC: Cherry-pick smaller adversary’s customers who may be neglected.
CG: EXECUTION - Tactics that isolate the adversary.
Let the tiger find no place to its claws. INTERPRETATION: Make the hostile intents and capabilities of your adversary irrelevant. BASIS: Your adversary cannot harm you if he has no place to realize his aggression. TACTIC: Use patents, policies or standards to reduce vulnerability.
Feign foolishness. INTERPRETATION: Pretend to be ignorant while making meticulous plans. BASIS: Foolish minds do not arouse suspicion. TACTIC: Declare competitor irrelevant you plan to pursue.
Sow a discord. INTERPRETATION: Mislead your adversary’s agents so they report false intelligence to their leaders. BASIS: Those sent to uncover your secrets are choice carriers of misinformation. TACTIC: Invite a adversary -friendly vendor to bid on a potential new product.
Stand back and watch the fires burn. INTERPRETATION: Allow a discord in your adversary’s camp to reduce the adversary from within. BASIS: A discord in your adversary’s camp may deliver a desired result without your participation. TACTIC: Patiently watch adversary’s financial woes deepen. Then attack.
Change the pace of the engagement. INTERPRETATION: Act faster or slower than your adversary can act or react. BASIS: An adversary’s inability to act or react at your pace diminishes his capacity to oppose you. TACTIC: Exploit adversary’s OODA loop.
Take the hill while no one is there. INTERPRETATION: Command a critical position ahead of your adversary. BASIS: Your adversary cannot beat you to an objective you already hold. TACTIC: Use short-term, time-shared private jets to win a major account against adversary traveling commercial airlines.
Isolate your adversary. INTERPRETATION: Separate your adversary from the objective or the means to act on the objective. BASIS: Your adversary cannot shape the outcome of the engagement if he cannot affect the objective. TACTIC: Hire adversaries sales rep for key account.
Burden your adversary with victory. INTERPRETATION: Allow the consequences of attaining his objective to hinder your adversary. BASIS: An adversary that is hindered by a burdensome victory leaves other challenges unmet. TACTIC: Let adversary win an especially burdensome contract that will demand most of their resources and time.
Douse the fire that boils the water. INTERPRETATION: Neutralize your adversary’s source of power to undermine his strength and endurance. BASIS: A loss of power challenges your adversary’s capacity to realize his plans. TACTIC: Hire a key executive of adversary.
Incapacitate the leadership. INTERPRETATION: Cripple the capacity of your adversary’s leaders to assert their influence. BASIS: A loss of leadership pushes your adversary toward disorganization and defeat. TACTIC: Hire adversary’s top salesman.
Eliminate your adversary’s choices. INTERPRETATION: Leave your adversary with no viable options or call your adversary’s bluff. BASIS: An adversary with no options cannot keep you guessing. TACTIC: Match adversary’s discounted price designed to scare you off.
Defeat your adversary’s plans. INTERPRETATION: Deny your adversary the opportunity to show what he can do. BASIS: The best your adversary can do means little if he cannot execute his plans. TACTIC: Utilize legislation to neutralize an adversary’s proprietary advantage.
CG: EXECUTION - Tactics that increase interaction.
Sacrifice a nickel for a dollar. INTERPRETATION: Sacrifice a small loss to prevent a large loss. BASIS: Preserving your resources safeguards your capacity to operate. TACTIC: Concede a small market to adversary to save a larger market.
Aid your adversary’s victim. INTERPRETATION: Use the threat your adversary poses to another as a pretext to expand your influence. BASIS: Imminent danger makes receptive hosts of those who otherwise resist you. TACTIC: Approach a smaller competitor threatened by adversary for acquisition or joint venture.
Catch your adversary sleeping. INTERPRETATION: Surprise your adversary where he is unprepared or you are unexpected. BASIS: Surprise brings your adversary into the engagement on your terms. TACTIC: Attack and dominate a minor market.
Rise up and charge. INTERPRETATION: Resolve a desperate situation with a bold action. BASIS: Boldness when engaged in a desperate situation carries with it the possibility of victory. TACTIC: Acquire adversary.
There are only 54 tactics described above. There are thousands more marketers can create to exploit their specific opportunity. Use Robert Cantrell’s strategies to serve as catalysts for developing your own set of interaction and isolation tactics.