Business is Combat

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Sure, it is a type of combat with referees like government officials and legalities but everything else about business should be viewed as combat whenever two things exist: a) competition b) non-equilibrium of the customer pool.

Customer pool equilibrium will take some explaining so here it goes: when the customer pool is either increasing or decreasing there is going to be some jostling for position. Competition is going to change its tactics in either case. When the customer pool is increasing competitors might be too busy acquiring customers to deviate from a straight cost/benefits approach unless there is a perception that a competitor is 'in the way.' Here the market players will be less likely to utilize tactics to raid a competitor's customer base or intercept a competitor's efforts to acquire new customers because there is perceived to be enough to go around. When the market is declining you are going to see more raids and tactics designed to counter your efforts to keep your existing market share.

If you are thinking this is a lot like a tribe of monkeys fighting over nuts in a walnut grove you have developed the correct visualization. As advanced as we have become as a species we are still chasing each-other around with sticks whenever we feel something important to us is being threatened.

In the interests of preparing fledgling companies for market combat there really isn't much use in highlighting marketing attack strategies. It is election season in the U.S. so you'll learn all you need to by turning on the television. It is little more than a parade of highlighting another's faults, contradictions, and failings. Rather than go that route, let's talk about defensive strategies.

The Human/Cuddly Animal Shield Defense

Employed by: Disney, PBS, Hello Kitty, and even Coca Cola (Iconic American Imagery/Polar Bears Christmas ads)

Methodology: Associate yourself with something that cannot be attacked without making the attacker look bad. In the case of Disney and PBS they center a good portion of their efforts either teaching or entertaining kids in a non-harmful way. When you attack either entity you will be seen as attacking kids, which is a disastrous strategy. Nevermind that Disney is gobbling up companies like a black hole and PBS appears to educate your kids to eventually inject them later in life with what appears to be liberalism. Hello Kitty appeals to the kid in all of us and who doesn't like kittens? Nevermind that some portion of the products emblazoned with the imagery might employ child labor. Coca Cola rots your teeth and is chock full of caffeine and sugar -- two things you should curtail for better health -- but who can talk about those issues when Coca Cola associates itself with American ingenuity (and with America itself for that matter) and cuddly polar bears?

The Home Field/Cherished Ideal Defense

Employed by: Professional Sports Teams, Apple Computer Company

Methodology: Declare it to be your intent to defend the honor of some physical place or some cherished ideal. Professional sports teams waste gobs of public money on stadiums, conceal life-altering injuries in their players, and quietly encourage their players to use performance enhancing substances (which eventually leads to similar abuse among children trying to emulate their feats) all while claiming to represent a locality. Nevermind that virtually none of the players come from that locality -- only the money for the stadiums and tickets. As for Apple Computer, their advertisements speak for themselves. They want you to believe that they are the defenders of creativity and expressiveness. Nevermind that iPhones are manufactured in an environment where nets have to be erected atop buildings to keep the employees from expressing their dissatisfaction with their work conditions by jumping to their deaths.


Yes, so business is combat and the theater of play is the human mind. Your weapons are words and imagery. The best combatants will have a ready-made counter for all of the most common offensive strategies. This is your playbook -- if you do not have one start one immediately. Even doing nothing is a strategy of sorts and should be done consciously/deliberately. Welcome to the world of business. It is a jungle.

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Citation: Business is Combat. (2014). Retrieved Wed May 23 11:05:18 2018, from;iid=readMore;go=1414457548