Running a business is like going to war.
Think about how many analogies in business came from the military: price wars, guerrilla marketing, strategic alliances, subordinates, chain of command, and much more.
I started studying military strategy for fun in college. I wish I could tell you some grandiose reason why, but the truth is I wanted to get better at playing StarCraft.
And through all that studying, one strategy has stuck with me throughout the years. And it’s one that I’ve used in business over and over the past decade.
It’s called the Beachhead Strategy.
Here’s where it comes from.
France was occupied by Nazi Germany in the 1940s.
On June 6, 1944, more than 176,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France.
You might recognize that operation as D-Day.
They didn’t do a multi-pronged attack on different areas of France. No, the Allied forces focused all their strength on winning a small area.
Once they won the beaches of Normandy, they established it as a stronghold. They defended the beaches and it allowed more troops to safely land in what used to be dangerous territory.
From there, they slowly took over the rest of Europe.
We tend to forget that most billion (or even trillion) dollar companies started out small. We hear about all the strategies that they’re using today, but it’s far more useful to study how companies started.
Amazon.com started by using a beachhead strategy. Jeff Bezos saw the growth of the internet in the early ’90s and he wanted a piece of it.
His goal was to build an online store that could sell nearly every type of product in this world. But that wasn’t his goal at first – it was too big of a goal and too unrealistic.
Instead, he evaluated twenty+ categories to sell.
The winner? Books.
- He didn’t have to invest any money on product development.
- All books are the same so the customers know what they’re getting.
- He had an advantage over the in-store bookstores. He could offer more titles than any physical location.
- Getting the inventory was easy since there were only two major book distributors in the 90’s. He didn’t have to waste time negotiating hundreds of deals.
So in the beginning, Amazon only sold books for the first few years. They dominated.
Those few years allowed them to generate sales, build their brand, and perfect their processes.
Books were their stronghold, and they started expanding into more and more categories.
If you’re starting affiliate marketing or starting a new business, you don’t have the experience or resources yet to compete against the established players.
If that’s the case, then you should use different beachhead strategies. Let’s talk about some ways you can apply it.
The Benefits of Beachhead Strategies in Affiliate Marketing
Whenever I compete in a Brazilian Jiujitsu tournament, I’m going to be evenly matched.
I can compete with someone under 155lb, between 30-35 years old, and they’re a blue belt. I’m not going to get Hulk smashed by a 19-year-old Black Belt.
There’s no amateur league when it comes to business or campaigns.
You’re competing against everyone the second you launch a campaign. You’re not competing against another newbie who just signed up for STM and has a $10 a day budget.
Nope, you could be bidding against a team with $10k+ a day budget, and 5+ media buyers.
There’s no “safe space” for you to practice your skills on.
That’s why it’s important for you to use beachhead strategies. It’s a way for you to maximize your resources.
How to use Beachhead Strategies in Your Marketing Campaigns
Alright, enough theory. Let’s get into some practical examples on how you can apply these concepts to your campaigns.
1. What Countries Aren’t People Targeting?
This is one of the easiest, and most reliable strategies in affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketers love to launch campaigns in Tier 1 English speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
There’s plenty of traffic in these countries and there’s less work involved because they don’t have to translate any languages.
Their laziness is your gain.
You can use a spy tool to see what ads, angles, and landing pages are working in the English speaking countries. You can take these same creatives, translate them with One Hour Translation, and start running them in countries they’re not targeting.
At one point, I had a policy where I wouldn’t target English speaking countries. Why enter a red ocean full of competitors in the U.S., when there were so many blue oceans?
People underestimated the amount of money you can generate from locations like the Nordic countries, Turkey, South Africa, and Latin America.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can simply translate someone else’s creatives and profit. It may work sometimes, but you can dominate if you put in more effort.
Think about McDonald’s.
Do they feature the same menu in every single McDonald’s in the world? No, they don’t.
They research the local cuisine and create a menu suited for local tastes.
- In India, they have a McAloo Tikki which features a vegetarian patty made of potatoes.
- Japan features a panko-battered shrimp patty
- Americans have apple pie. In China, they feature a Taro pie.
It’s a strategy that I call Hyperlocalization.
Instead of just translating your creatives, create new marketing angles, and landing page copy that integrates the country’s culture.
2. Niche Down the Product
Lemonade is an insurance company that started in 2015. They’re backed by Softbank and worth $2 billion.
Imagine trying to break into the insurance industry. How can you compete against giants like Prudential and Berkshire Hathaway?
The founders knew that they’d bleed money if they went after the biggest segments like home and auto insurance.
The cost of acquisition of too damn high.
Instead, they used a beachhead strategy by focusing only on rental insurance. There’s a method to the madness. By focusing on rental insurance, their main demographic are millennials.
Soon, their primary customers will get older and start looking at other insurance needs such as home and life insurance. By focusing on the rental insurance space, it gave Lemonade time to establish their brand, processes, and technology.
Another example is ConvertKit. There are unlimited choices when it comes to choosing an email service provider. They established themselves by focusing on the needs of bloggers.
Brainstorm how you can segment down.
- Adult dating. I’m blown away by how many niches there are in this space. Instead of going for the generic “hot mom next door”, you can laser-target different niches like Hentai.
- Dog products. Most dog products have a machine gun approach and target all dog owners. Niche it down with specific breeds. There’s dynamite when you target German Shepherd owners and feature German Shepherds in your ads.
- Nootropics. So many guys are trying to create the next Onnit. It’s a great brand, but they’re mainly focused on bros. Niche down. Mental supplements for older women. Mental supplements for chess players. Mental supplements for entrepreneurs.
3. Niche Down the Audience / Demographics
Certain companies benefit from the “network effect”. The more people who use the service, then the more useful that service becomes.
Ironically, Facebook started by narrowing down their audience on purpose.
When Facebook first launched, it was only available to the students at Harvard.
- Then Ivy Leagues
- Then University Students within the U.S.
- Then University Students outside the U.S.
- Then employees of companies such as Apple and Microsoft
- Then finally, anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address.
Narrowing down the audience allowed them to build their own “sandbox” to improve the product.
Another example is life insurance. Demographics have a different pain points.
Someone who’s a new parent wants life insurance to protect their children.
I don’t have any kids yet. I bought life insurance in my 20’s to make sure that my parents would be taken care of in case I passed away young.
4. Do the Opposite of the Market Leaders
Whenever a company has a strength, it also has a weakness.
Facebook’s strength was how all your memories would be stored. What’s the opposite of that? Not storing anything.
That’s how Snapchat got established.
Facebook’s other weakness is it has become increasingly “older” demographic wise. No teenage girl wants to Twerk in a place where her parents and their friends are going to see. That’s how TikTok has an audience.
There’s a growing movement of using 100% organic ingredients only when it comes to skincare.
What’s the opposite? Using synthetic ingredients. Drunk Elephant is a skincare line that uses synthetic ingredients and embraces it.
Their messaging is they don’t care if an ingredient is organic or synthetic, they only care if it works or not. They’re saying that organic products have limitations.
It can be intimidating to see an established company, but realize that their strength is also a weakness.
Don’t be Scared of Competition
If someone were to punch you in the face, your instinct is to close your eyes and flinch.
Floyd Mayweather is considered one of the best boxers in history. One of his secrets is that he trained himself NOT to flinch. When someone’s throwing a punch at him, his eyes are always open.
This allows him to block and dodge at all times, even if someone’s swinging at him.
How many times have you thought of a business idea, but you stop yourself because you found a “competitor”?
That feeling is as natural as closing your eyes when someone’s about to punch you.
But I want you to retrain the way you think about the competition.
Competition means there’s market validation. But you can’t compete against them head on.
Instead, use the beachhead strategy to effectively enter the market.
All other photos courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.