The ultimate goal of a company is market dominance.
Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, Netflix, TSMC and other famed companies have market dominance in many core areas they compete in.
A company’s marketing strategy is multi-faceted, but at the end of the day it should be centered around market dominance.
Even the most cutting edge fields have established markets. Example: OpenAI is presently dominating the generative AI field. This is a new field, but they did not create it. They are definitely expanding it faster than ever, but it existed to a small degree.
But that’s extremely new – Apple is a better example since they are a 40+ year old company and currently the best in the world. They dominate the key markets they play in, and are also a contender in others.
Thesis: Let’s cut the crap with confusing goals and mission statements for most companies. A company’s goal is market dominance. A marketing strategy geared towards market dominance should be the default approach.
Market Dominance is the Goal
I have heard the term market dominance before, but it never really stuck until I saw this clip:
For me what really stuck out was just how compelling and multi-faceted the campaign strategy is that the actor suggested.
But also it truly perfectly encapsulates what legendary businesses do try to do: corner the market, dominate the market.
Dominating a market does not mean monopoly, but as Thiel proclaimed in Zero to One, that’s certainly what you want to aim for. As we currently see in the Google and Apple conversations and agreement for Google/Safari default browser partnership, it’s a dominated market. Google has market dominance in Safari. It’s the default setting.
Google has market dominance in search engines.
Google secures market dominance in part with strategic partnerships with Apple and Firefox, to be the default search engine for the #2 and #4 browsers after Google-owned Chrome.
Silicon Valley based behemoths like Google and Apple currently represent the pinnacle of business presently. Models may change in the future, as we see with OpenAI and their weird non-profit and for-profit structure, and their relationship with Microsoft that includes some level of profit capping.
Market Dominance is the Goal of a Marketing Strategy
I bring up marketing strategy with prospects and clients early on in the initial conversations, to see if there’s a clearly communicated strategy in the company. Too often, a marketing strategy isn’t clearly known throughout marketing teams in an organization.
I will often hear and have discussions about a micro portion of a marketing strategy – the SEO strategy, the content strategy, or the links and PR strategy. But even then we’re often talking about channels and tactics and metrics, not necessarily the big goals.
I think in marketing we need to be talking about marketing strategy in 15-20% of all conversations. A full 20 minutes in a one-hour meeting should be about the marketing strategy and how what we’re working on – tactics, projects, tasks – supports the strategy.
I also think that we’re all not thinking big enough or we’re distracted but lower level numbers that miss the multi-year strategic advantage of having a clear goal that is market dominance.
So my working recommendation and working philosophy is this: set market dominance as your marketing strategy and corporate strategy.
The CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO, and CRO all want market dominance. It makes everything better. More, stickier customers with more profit and a growing pie.
Think again back to Apple. They are introducing new products and services constantly. The Airpods product line produces more profit than many, many companies put together. Apple are marketing geniuses, and honestly probably the only company that you need to look to if you had to pick one, when it comes to a modern implementation of classical marketing principles paired with technology.
Apple is first and foremost a marketing & design company. They define what it means to have a brand. Companies like Coca-Cola may be 90% brand, but Apple is the most valuable company that also has an amazing brand. They are amazing at marketing campaign planning, launches and strategy. Follow what Apple does and apply it to your unique situation in context.
Strategy is the Ultimate Game
Not many people know this but one of my true loves is Command and Conquer Generals: Zero Hour.
A game that came out in 2003 and has barely been kept up to date since. But I find this 20 year old strategy game to be the ultimate in recreation, strategy, and thinking fast.
You play as one of three military factions and try to overtake their base and crush them. What you learn in real-time strategy games like this is that there are many creative ways to get to the end goal, but ultimately you must of course crush your enemy. This is clear.
In modern, soft, marketing circles we don’t want to often talk about beating and crushing competition. But to have a secure company you must have a clear advantage, a clear reason for existing, and a clear path to profits and long-term returns. This means having a dominant presence in any battlefield you wish to play on.
I was talking with a friend at a recent marketing conference who had an amazing quote: “Business is the most multi-dimensional game I’ve ever played.”
I immediately knew he was a real time strategy game player – Starcraft was my guess.
Business truly is an ongoing, endless, multi-dimensional game with thousands of players. And the people are real, the pain is real, the success engages all five senses, and it matters. Strategy games can help simulate and teach you universal strategies in a laboratory-like setting, but they are ultimately not as salient as real-life business.
The takeaway here is that I think myself and many others love the concept of thinking about and simulating strategy, in games and daydreaming, but ultimately we need to realize the universal goal of any strategy you deploy should service the company as a whole. And I’m arguing that choosing market dominate as the ultimate end goal of your strategy should be the main playbook.
I’ve been reading a lot of material from famed business legends like Peter Drucker, Steven Kotler, Porter, and more. There is something totally refreshing about reading from the business greats. You can see what they were thinking decades ago that still applies today.
Someone said that you should either read books older than 50 years or more recent than 2 years, but nothing in between. The old stuff that was really good has lasted and entered the canon of the greats. The recent stuff will help give you an edge. Everything in between takes a lot of sifting through to find the good stuff.
Market dominance is an old-school way of thinking, so some of our more sensitive and empathetic friends that fear competition. It’s true, like HubSpot and Stripe may say, that they want to grow the pie and increase the GDP of their larger ecosystem rather than take away. But they are also seeking and achieving market dominance in their own right, and you should too.
The Bottleneck of Indecisiveness
Markets exists whether you are participating or not.
If you’re not making a clear decision on what target market(s) you’re going after in a specific market, that is the decision.
In taking no action you are proclaiming that you have a fragmented set of markets you’re participating in.
As an example, I see this all the time with web design agencies. They have a roster of clients that spans from small local businesses, to getting lucky with a big national brand. And then they have a mix of industries and even non-profits.
If you’re trying to get a website built for a massive oil company, and you see this agency has worked with a lot of coffee shops, accountants, and local auto dealers, that’s not a clear sign of a good fit. Or, rather, that’s a clear sign of not a good fit if you want a specialist that can hit the ground running with you.
The Cost of Inaction
Even if you do decide, you commission the strategy, you have your market – the go-to-market phase is critical. If you take no action, then it’s all just sitting in the heads of the company managers, not being implemented.
But perhaps just as bad is taking the action, but going down the wrong route with a non-aligned and amateur go-to-market strategy. If you spend your 6 months and entire budget on the wrong deployment, you’re 6 months late, spent the cash, and wasted your team’s time. At the very least you did take an action and learned a lesson, but it can be an expensive route.
Main Takeaway: Market Dominance is the Goal
The big epiphany, that I’m sure many others have had before, is that instead of focusing marketing efforts on a bunch of vanity efforts like traffic, leads, or even revenue, set a larger goal: market dominance.
Market dominance represents success in product, sales, finance, and the security of your company. When you have market dominance you have even more space to innovate and create new breakthroughs in your business. Apple and Google are disrupting themselves constantly. They are not sitting back as they try to defend their current market dominance and enter new markets, like AR and AI. It’s likely you’re not Google or Apple, so you need to focus on market dominance even more than they do. Get to work.