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Predatory Marketing

Author: C. Britt Beemer, Robert L. Shook
Publisher Broadway Books
Publication Date: January 1998

Reviewer:Robert Morris
Based in Dallas, Robert Morris is an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and organizational growth. He is the author of almost 150 Business Nuggets and frequently conducts workshops based on material selected from them. His formal education includes graduate study at Yale, Northwestern, U.C.L.A., and Chicago universities. He has served in several senior-level corporate positions and is currently preparing to launch his own website (interllect.com). Please contact him at rmmorris@airmail.net.

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The title of Predatory Marketing (published by Broadway Books) is somewhat misleading. Written by C. Britt Beemer (with Robert L. Shook), it really does not suggest predatory strategies to "win today's customers." The advice offered is highly ethical as well as immensely practical. Much of what Beemer suggests is already known to and probably followed by many of his readers. Reminders of key points really do have value. One of the book's greatest benefits consists of a series of ten "Consumer Mind Reader" analyses of trends as well as tendencies which reveal consumer preferences are as well as the reasons for them. Another substantial benefit is derived from a series of check-lists and multi-step sequences which suggest how to implement the information provided. 

According to Beemer, "The purpose of the book is to tell you how to get information, and most important, [how to] analyze it so that you can make the right decisions....So the main theme of this book is not to promote research -- it's to inform you of ways to find out more about your customer, your competition's customers, and trends in the marketplace." For Beemer, "predatory" is a synonym for proactive: "I'm a firm believer is taking an offensive -- rather than defensive position; marketing is always an offensive weapon." Recall John Newbern's comment: "People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened." To these Beemer would probably add a fourth group: Those who wait for something to happen and then respond too late (if at all).

Throughout Predatory Marketing, Beemer includes hundreds of brief items of information which include:

"Over 60% of American consumers say that brand-names are the best way to determine the quality of a product."

Whereas consumers ages 50+ and blue collar workers strongly favor buying American-made products, white-collar consumers younger than 50 don't oppose foreign-made products.

More than 95% of consumers say, "If you advertise a product, you better have it in the store when I get there."

In the year 2000, the American consumer will (on overall average) shop in only 1.3 stores when making a major purchase.

The chapter titles suggest how Beemer organizes his material in Predatory Marketing:
  • What the Numbers Tell
  • Everything You Need to Know About Trends
  • Implementing a Marketing Strategy
  • The Numbers Business Is a People Business
  • The Vision
  • Never Underestimate the Competition
  • A Predatory Strategy
  • The Niche Player
  • The Long-Term Strategist
  • Customers for Life
  • Nothing is Constant but Change
In the final chapter of Predatory Marketing, Chapter 11, Beemer identifies and analyzes five sources of change: those which are customer-driven, local competition-driven,  government-driven, globally-driven, and internally-driven. Whatever the source(s) may be, Beemer pounds away at the idea of obtaining all of the information needed, formulating strategies and tactics based on that information, and then implementing. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Beemer asserts that the men and women who implement them are "priceless." Years ago, Coach Darrell Royal explained that "potential" simply means "you ain't done it yet." 

Predatory Marketing suggests some key questions to ask on a regular basis:

  1. Who buys from us? Why? Who should but doesn't? Why not?
  2. What are our competitive advantages? Where are we vulnerable?
  3. Which new (or pending) legislation is relevant to our business? Why?
  4. How can we take full advantage of appropriate opportunities created by the Internet? (Whose e-commerce is thriving? Why?)
  5. What are our greatest intangible assets and resources? (eg intellectual capital) How can we maximize their value contributions?
Because change is the only constant, the answers to questions such as these will almost certainly change. Hence the importance of an "early-warning system" and contingency planning. Hence the importance of a rapid and decisive response to change. Preferably, to be the change agent to which others must respond...and probably with too little too late.

The word "predatory" in the title of Predatory Marketing suggests buzzards when in fact Beemer is really talking about eagles: creatures possessed of vision, speed, power, and grace. He has written this book for those who need both information and counsel to gain and then control their competitive marketplace.