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  The bull as an animal is strangely hardwired in its brain to not attack, react or recognize anything below a certain height as an enemy. So to illustrate this, when a group of people walks uprights towards it, it is provoked to attack. But if they all suddenly duck down around an equal low height, it also suddenly stays still.
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In metaphor, that is an analogy of how big companies fail. Big business finds it hard to react, as they usually do not see these smaller businesses coming. In essence, don’t be a bull, learn to adapt and take shape according to the type of competition. This article is about giants and underdogs; it describes big businesses as giants and small businesses as underdogs. Giants are not known to have the best eyesight, plus they move too slowly. SMEs are faster, we should learn to leverage the speed that comes with being small-sized. When you sit at presentations by reps representing bigger firms, you often hear “It’s against our policy” or at most,  “let me confirm with my boss and I’d get back to you”. Clients don’t want to hear that. But it’s inevitable if that rep is from a bigger business. This is where smaller businesses can leverage to knock them out. Speed! Most big businesses fail for reacting too slowly to market dynamics. Blame it on their size, larger organograms and policies. They fall from not thinking like small businesses with speed. On the other hand, when you are a small business, don’t be a small business with big business problems. Inversely speaking also, small businesses also fail for not thinking like big businesses in their vision. Small business should master how to be guerrillas. Guerrilla strategy is about taking pride in your seemingly disadvantaged position, enjoying your small size and leveraging on it. A razor blade is very sharp but it can’t cut a tree the same way an axe can’t cut your hair. Everything and everyone has their own role so never look down on anyone except of course you admire their shoes! For big businesses, they lack intimacy with their customers. They also lack energy and excitement. Customers  (maybe thousands or even millions of them) are so in their face that they treat them as relevant. Nobody wants to feel like just a number. It makes customers edgy. The truth is that every customer gets edgier, lazier and more attention-seeking with time. The antidote will be convenience, excitement and attention. This, on the other hand, is lost from the industry giants to the underdogs. At this point, these underdogs should begin to hijack that neglected marketplace that the incumbent leader isn’t interested in because its focus is to make better products at a better price for profit. While they are at it, the underdog should sneak in and takes them out. Disruptive Innovation is a strategy game of the underdog. The truth is that it’s so easy to forget to look at what you do in the eyes of the customer or any other stakeholder when you are that big. It’s a Golden Rule of life and business people forget. Once this happens, you begin to lose intimacy, value, and eventually the market! Dear startups, never be ashamed of your small position or despise your small beginnings. People who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind. It’s okay to work from home, it’s okay to share an office, and it’s okay to market one on one, to nicely ask for testimonials and referrals, and it’s okay to say that you have a lean team.
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Take pride in your efficiency. As long as you deliver on what is expected with a warm disposition, clients won’t mind, especially if you at least project that you’re growing. If you’re big, try not to act like you’re too big for a client, or that you have overgrown your clients. I mean consciously avoid bureaucracy by size; try to sometimes create smaller units to retain intimacy. In business, when you are a small business and don’t seem to have the capacity to go head to head with the big firms, what do you do? As the underdog firm in your industry with a lean budget, Disruptive Innovation, Flank Attack, Segmentation, and Guerrilla Marketing Warfare are your best bets. Market Segmentation simply means picking a sub-set of the entire marketplace that you can organize your sales efforts around. As a small business stop trying to cover the whole market, stop trying to be in front of bigger businesses. As an SME, you don’t go head to head with a bigger brand, instead, you take advantage of their size, which makes them slow and uneasy to focus deeply and uneasy to respond swiftly. Be the opposite of all of these. Another thing to do is to look at their entire market scope and then take a smaller but uncontested market size of that large space and then you concentrate your forces there. In other words, map the entire market and then take only a small section of the market, and own it. Concentrate all your forces on it till you own that small portion totally, and then gradually expand that section. Guerrilla Marketing is like a game of ‘hide and seek’. Guerrilla strategy is how terrorists attack their nations (they take a smaller part of the map and then concentrate on that space e.g Boko Haram, really is not going head to head with the Nigerian Army. Rather, they keep hiding in a small neglected part of the north, around the Sambisa forest while from their hideouts, they are attacking consistently and very passionately to the point of paying with their lives). There are many good examples we can get from bad deeds, even Boko Haram. One of them is to not oversell a product, instead sell an ideology. Also, don’t sell a product, sell the benefits; just like the saying goes, don’t sell the insecticides; sell the idea of creating dead mosquitoes. The guerrilla strategy has always been a game-changer for upcoming businesses. In other words, do a SWOT analysis of your competitor and then capitalize on their W (Weaknesses). Guerrilla strategy is about taking advantage of what bigger firms are not doing well. These are usually the areas of client service relationship, speed, and intimacy.  For example, in Nigeria, a small departmental store brand can decide to build small supermarkets around every big Shoprite but with better convenience in check out (bearing in mind that parking space and check out time from the counters of Shoprite is irritatingly slow). Another case study is what the Chinese phones with two SIM cards did over the bigger known brands with one SIM card slot for their phones in Nigeria (they provided convenience. With it, you may not need to carry two phones which is convenient and also cheaper). Guerrilla Marketing must focus on low-cost and unconventional marketing tactics that deliver convenience with maximum results. It’s important for small business to take pride in their small size and not to keep making excuses for being small and having no resources. Whether life or business, once again, it is not what we don’t have that stops us, it’s the little we have but don’t know how to use. Big Businesses, at the top of their food chains, have a dilemma that small businesses can take advantage of. There’s a saying that it is easier to get to the top than to stay there. This time, I disagree. In marketing strategy, once at the top, a company can use an economy of scale to reduce their production cost and then use the power of its leadership position to bully the market with lower pricing. Don’t play that price war fight with bigger firms. Your antidote should be guerrilla marketing; in this case, personalization and intimate selling. Don’t underrate yourself. Don’t try to adapt yourself to the bull. Bernard Shaw once put it: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” It’s a gift to be an SME with incredibly and an almost unreasonable drive. In relation to bigger firms, you have less bureaucracy (and that bureaucracy gets bigger as bigger firms keep expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy). For you, without it, it means more speed and accessibility to your customers. what do you, with it? Look forward to developing Guerrilla Strategies that stands you out. Featured Image Source: Corporate Finance Institute
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This article was first published on 31st May 2021


Uwaoma Eizu is the founder and lead strategist of the Hexavian group. He is a graduate of Mathematics with two Master's Degrees, a PMP and other management certifications.

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