Repositioning Your Competitor’s Strength


Stop attacking your competition’s weaknesses. Their clients did not buy from them because of these weaknesses. They bought from them because of their strengths. If you are going to take market share from your competition you need a new Direct Strategy. This strategy comes from a marketing book entitled Positioning by Jack Trout and Al Reiss.

Here is how it works:

  • Step 1: Determine the strength of your competitor’s position.
  • Step 2: Find a weakness in the leader’s strength.
  • Step 3: Reposition their strength into a weakness.
  • Step 4: Launch your attack there, on a narrow a front as possible.
  • Step 5: Attack major weaknesses.
  • Step 6: Make major weaknesses your strength.

The strategy to attack the competitor’s strength may seem to fly in the face of business logic. First, keep in mind that you won’t take a significant numbers of clients away from your competitors by always attacking their weaknesses. Why? Because clients didn’t buy from your competitor because of their weaknesses; they bought based on their strengths. Finding the “weakness in their strength” will provide you with your advantage over your competition, but it will also make you very attractive to the client.

Here are a couple of examples of how this has worked:


Example #1

A real easy way to explain this is to see how Scope used this to take market share away from Listerine. For years Listerine dominated the mouthwash market. Their strength: Listerine mouthwash kills germs. (Step 1) Scope found the weakness in the strength (Step 2), and repositioned that strength into a weakness (Step 3). Then they attacked on the narrowest front possible (Step 4). Scope attacked Listerine with an advertising campaign; “If you are tired of medicine breath, try Scope”. They repositioned Listerine’s strength into a weakness. It was a tremendous marketing success. For years competitors tried to take market share from Listerine and failed. Only when Listerine’s strength became a weakness did they lose market share.

Example #2

When F. W. Woolworth opened his first store, an established retailer across the street immediately responded to Woolworth’s grand opening by hanging a sign on his store, “Doing business in the same spot for over fifty years.” The next day Woolworth responded with a sign on his new store, “Established a week ago, no old stock.” What a great example of repositioning a competitor’s strength into a weakness.

If you want to take market share from your competition learn how to reposition their strength into a weakness. It may take some work but it will be worth it.