Rick Bennett is the king of guerrilla warfare marketing. He’s bold and aggressive in his style. Maybe that’s not the vibe most of us want to channel all of the time, but his stuff works and we can learn from it. He made his mark by helping take Oracle from $15 million to $1 billion in sales between 1984 and 1990. He’s continued to expand his reputation with other names ever since.
Bennett’s primary weapon is the big statement. His objective is, “to make the competition go crazy and generate mistakes.” He wrote an ad for Salesforce when they were battling Siebel for control of the emerging customer relationship management (CRM) market. It landed like a knockout punch, challenging Siebel’s clients to think about what they were paying for, what they were getting, and why.
The ad featured a kid writing detention-style on a chalkboard, “I will not give my lunch money to Siebel.” Whether you saw this ad or not, you already know which company dominates CRM today. It forced Siebel to backtrack on being perceived as a bully and reconsider their approach, all to Salesforce’s advantage.
While we may not have a specific direct competitor or even want to take this type of a shot at them if we do, we do want to take a clear shot at the problem we solve. Bennett helped Salesforce raise questions and doubts in Siebel’s customers’ minds about what they were paying for and why. We don’t have to be as flagrant as him, but if we want our message to get through, we want to cut directly to a problem we can help solve.
A company’s mission statement highlights what it does for the people it serves. Marketing, advertising copy, or a targeted campaign can help align a business with its clients in a specific moment against a specific problem. If we can make our clients (prospective and current) say, “Yeah, that’s right,” we’ve done our job. If it simultaneously makes our competition in the space say, “Hey, wait a second, what about us – no, uhh, hang on…” it’s a Bennett-level win.
Want more? Take a quick scroll through the landing page on Bennett’s website. Also, read, “Silicon Valley Legend Rick Bennett Took Oracle From $15M In Revenue To Over $1B. Here’s How,” or listen to Bennett’s interview on the Follow Your Different podcast episode 66. H/t to Christopher Lochhead, everything I know about Bennett comes from him.