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The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Leadin Any Market [Hardcover]

John Zagula , Rich Tong , Richard Tong
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (21 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840381
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 14.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 207,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Every company needs to figure out the best way to beat the competition. What do you do if the other guy is already dominating the market? Should you challenge them head on or lie low for a while? Should you offer customers high-end features or a low-end price? Or both?During their years at Microsoft, John Zagula and Richard Tong answered such questions so effectively that they helped Microsoft Office and Windows grow from a 10 percent to 90 percent market share. As venture capitalists, Zagula and Tong have continued to test and perfect their system with hundreds of companies of all sizes and at all stages.Now they're sharing their best ideas and methods in an easy-to-apply book that will be enormously helpful to marketers in every industry and leaders in every size company.The Marketing Playbook explains the five basic strategies for a competitive market--The Drag Race Play, The Best of Both Play, The High-Low Play, The Platform Play, and The Stealth Play. It illustrates how each one works, how to pick the best one for a given situation, and then how to implement it effectively in the real world.Just like a great sports coach with a well-designed playbook, managers who read this book will have the tools, tips, and tricks they need to leapfrog market research, craft a smart strategy, motivate their team, and start scoring major points with customers and against the opposition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful! 24 Aug 2005
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
While the metaphorical sports set-up is appealing, this "playbook" about marketing relies very little on the substance of sports and even less on the more powerful forces behind marketing. Instead, John Zagula and Richard Tong have written a clever grouping of five different marketing strategies, explained with sports metaphors. Real-life strategic examples and assessments of related risks and rewards accompany each play. Using some repetition to emphasize their lessons, the authors explain which market conditions call for using each of the five strategies. They demonstrate how forces in the market make some plays more feasible, although some of the illustrative stories seem a bit forced into fitting the marketing move under discussion and some examples lack sufficient detail to let the reader align the plays with precise goals and market conditions. However, the stories and strategies all have that insider flavor, right from the coach. We believe marketers who are still learning the ropes will want this strategic playbook.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for most organizations 22 July 2005
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For those directly (or even indirectly) involved in their organization's marketing initiatives, what Zagula and Tong offer in this volume can be very helpful. They introduce and then rigorously examine what they call "five battle-tested plays for capturing and keeping the lead in any market." Use of "any" is an exaggeration because, of course, it is imperative to market whatever one offers only where potential is greatest for sufficiently profitable sales. Zagula and Tong duly note that "no matter what the play, if you're running it on the wrong field or with the wrong resources, it just won't work." In marketing as in thoroughbred racing, "there are courses for horses." Also, different situations require different "plays." Here are the five which Zagula and Tong offer for consideration:

The Drag Race: "In some circumstances, your best bet calls for singling out one competitor and putting the pedal to the metal racing against them to win."

Comment: Endorsed by Henry V, the Russian forces at Balaclava, and Crazy Horse and his Oglala Sioux warriors...but not by the French forces at Agincourt, Lord Cardigan and the Light Brigade, and the Seventh Cavalry under Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's command at the Little Big Horn.

The Platform Play: Once dominant, develop strategic alliances and strengthen position because "you never know from where a new challenger is likely to emerge."

Comment: Obviously, the strategy and tactics are almost wholly defensive. This allows time to consolidate, train, refresh, obtain and evaluate competitive intelligence, and in all other appropriate ways anticipate threats to dominance.

The Stealth Play: As you gather resources and complete preparations, whittle away at the incumbent's weak points. However, never forget that "big, dumb, slow companies can still squish you."

Comment: An excellent strategy for organizations with severely limited resources. Margins for error are razor-thin. The "big, dumb, slow companies" can afford to carpet bomb. Be a sniper. Carefully read Sun Tzu's The Art of War, especially the chapter on Estimates. Also Jason Jennings' Think Big, Act Small.

The The Best-of-Both Play: Rather than focus on compromises ("trade-offs") at both the high and low ends of the given market, gain dominance over the entire category "by collapsing these two ends. If you appeal to the most important needs of each segment of the market, you can win them all."

Comment: Huge "if" because, when attempting to appeal to all market segments, you could lose in competition for dominance in any one of them.

High-Low Play: Try to close out the competition by splitting the given category and thereby owning both. "This is the hardest play to manage, but if it's done right, you'll achieve high volumes and high margins at the same time."

Comment: An even greater "if."

Any summary such as this fails to establish for any one "play" the extensive context within which Zagula and Tong carefully explain the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. Hence the importance of the "Take-Aways" section which they provide at the end of the chapter which they devote to each of the five. Hence the importance, also, of Chapter 7 in which they discuss how to "shift gears" from one to another, Part II in which they help their reader to analyze the the "terrain" of her or his own competitive marketplace (i.e. mapping both perils and opportunities), and Part III in which they explain HOW to initiate and then sustain an appropriate play "as a killer campaign."

Of special interest and value to me is what Zagula and Tong have to say about "The Campaign Brief." It is thoroughly explained in Chapter 13. Here is a brief excerpt:

"First, your campaign brief will be a single document you'll follow for the campaign, so you'll need to cover pretty much everything.....You find the key points, the essence, of all the analysis, strategy, and guidance you've come up with so far -- and cram it all onto a single page. That's right, onto one single page....On the one page, you're going to put three core paragraphs that lay out the whole rationale for your strategy, each paragraph no longer than three sentences" which assert case, story, and positioning" followed by two paragraphs which specify key support followed by objectives, goals, and metrics. Zagula and Tong urge their reader to be able to complete the Three We's: We believe..., We will..., and We are....

No brief commentary such as this can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information and the wealth of insights as well as recommendations which Zagula and Tong's book provides. Suffice to say that it provides a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective program which, for obvious reasons, must then be modified to accommodate the specific needs, interests, and resources of each reader's own organization.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battle Tested Plays Lead to Marketing Victories 23 Feb 2005
By Craig L. Howe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The authors, using their Microsoft experience, offer five strategies for marketing products and services.

Their book sees marketing as a team sport that requires five plays to create a winning campaign.

The five plays:

1. The Drag Race - Pick a single competitor to which to compare yourself. Then put everything into beating it.

2. The Platform Play - Ignore the competition. Focus on being a platform from which the entire industry can succeed. Make it easy and profitable to do business for others to partner and do business with you.

3. The Stealth Play - Focus on a specific niche where you can build your strength unnoticed. Peacefully co-exist with market leaders. Remember to stay out of the way of big competitors who can squish the life out of you.

4. The Best-of-Both Play - Dominate a category by collapsing both high- and low-end product into a single offer. This strategy allows customers to have it both ways.

5. The High-Low Play - The opposite of point #4. With this play to squeeze the competition by dominating both the high and low end.

To succeed, say the authors, who spent years as marketing executives at Microsoft launching successful brands and marketing popular product lines, you must do your homework. That means looking at the history, seeing the industry as it is today, and looking for levers to create dynamic openings.

The authors have written a readable book. Its conversational tone makes it a useful resource for marketers at both large and small companies.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful! 24 Aug 2005
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While the metaphorical sports set-up is appealing, this "playbook" about marketing relies very little on the substance of sports and even less on the more powerful forces behind marketing. Instead, John Zagula and Richard Tong have written a clever grouping of five different marketing strategies, explained with sports metaphors. Real-life strategic examples and assessments of related risks and rewards accompany each play. Using some repetition to emphasize their lessons, the authors explain which market conditions call for using each of the five strategies. They demonstrate how forces in the market make some plays more feasible, although some of the illustrative stories seem a bit forced into fitting the marketing move under discussion and some examples lack sufficient detail to let the reader align the plays with precise goals and market conditions. However, the stories and strategies all have that insider flavor, right from the coach. We believe marketers who are still learning the ropes will want this strategic playbook.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 19 April 2005
By john jacob astor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book that looks at marketing from a practical real world point of view.For the people complaining about the book go buy a kotler book or something.These guys were real excutives doing real marketing in a real company.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understand the reasoning of marketing 16 Mar 2005
By C. Behlivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In business schools they always teach you the tools of marketing (tactics)... such as pricing, promotion, advertising, positioning... But they do not teach the reasoning behind using these tools... This book gives you 5 different marketing strategies for creating a profitable business... As Sun Tzu said " Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." This book gives you the strategic vision of marketing... If you are looking for tactics go and buy a Philip Kotler book...

Nobody gave the position of Microsoft to these guys free... You may not like the products of Microsoft but this does not change the reality of their business success... As business people if we can digest the success of others easily... then we do not need to label marketing a very hard discipline... indeed it is not... and the writers are rigth... there are only 5 big plays available in the big picture but it is our wisdom to make combinations out of these plays for creating significant value for all of our stakeholders...

One more reminder: This book is for people who are making strategic decisions... Not the people who are waiting practical recipes to sell some items... Please think about the difference between marketing and sales before buying/reading this book...
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