Challenger v. Defender

You think and act differently when you’re the challenger (or at least you should).

Late comers to a market who desire growth are, by definition, challengers (as distinct from followers).

The category or market leader’s job is to defend their market share from attack, to stand their ground and to use all means they can to tell their stories, which are different to the challenger and usually focused on what made them the leader in the first place.

By contrast, the challenger has to be more nimble.  To take mind and (ultimately) market share from the leader, the challenger needs to craft their stories to attack the core strengths of a defender and tell them in a way that undermines the foundations of the leader and presents a credible alternative.

Communications strategies and tactics that get your stories right into the heart of where your desired audience works, plays and interacts, engaging their senses and emotions will drive your brand forward and start winding out the screws holding the market leader aloft.

Doing the same things as the defender is folly.  It only increases the chance that your stories will get lost amongst theirs, no matter how good, how differentiated or how valuable your offering might be.  It might work to start with but the capacity of the leader to ratchet up their attack is usually greater.  Existing in the shadow of the leader will eventually make you indistinguishable from them.

You’ve probably heard the business riddle: where does a 400-pound gorilla sleep?  Anywhere he wants.

That’s true but a nest of termites can eat the legs out of his bed and make him uncomfortable.

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