Beach Head strategy
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
One strategy you must consider when launching anything in a new market is the beach head strategy.
Like a lot of other business strategies, this also has its origins in the military.
I've found it useful to look at some of these strategies with an example to try and understand the context and use metaphors you can relate to when you're trying to execute on the strategy.
If you would rather read than watch, a lightly edited transcript is below the video.
One event that really exemplifies the beach head strategy is the landing of the Allied troops in Normandy in the June of 1944 as part of World War II.
This event marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.
In 1944, Germany and its allies occupied most of mainland Europe and if the Allies had to defeat Germany, the allies which were led by the British and the Americans had to land troops on mainland Europe which was under the control of Germany.
Germany had millions of troops on mainland Europe. The allies had to land one ship at a time with troops, equipment and supplies. Capture that region, establish a beach head and be able to land more troops if they were to wage a serious war against Germany and defeat Germany.
The allies even had a deception campaign by the name Operation Fortitude the goal of which was to deceive Germany into thinking that the allies were trying to land in either Calais or Norway whereas the actual landing was planned in Normandy.
The deception campaigh essentially ensured that the German troops were protecting other regions while the allies could land in Normandy, in a relatively unprotected area.
There is an excellent book by Ben Macintyre by the name Double Cross which gives a lot of detail about this deception campaign, which is quite fascinating.
In today's world, it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to launch a product in a market with no competition, either direct or indirect. What you want to keep in mind when launching is that you don't want to take on the incumbents head-on. Because that can only end in disaster.
So the goal really is to find a market which is
Small enough to win, but Big enough to matter!
When you're launching your product in a beach head market, there are three key things to keep in mind.
1. Why is this market attractive to you?
By capturing this market will you be able to prove your concept?
Will a presence in this market, help you capture adjacent market segments?
A good metaphor to keep in mind here is why the allies chose Normandy.
Normandy was on the mainland, it was far enough away from Germany so as not to warrant a huge response, but close enough to Germany and other strategic locations such as Paris and Belgium that it mattered. The allies did not choose an island off the coast of France such as say Jersey or Guernsey.
2. Is this an underserved market?
That is, there are customers here who have problems which are not being addressed by the incumbents.
In the case of Normandy it was not really an underserved market. It was just that the Germans were deceived into thinking that they needed to be elsewhere and there was a moment of "underserved market" nature in Normandy which the allies exploited.
Of course when you're launching a new product you may not be able to launch a deception campaign like what the allies did. But what you want to look for are things like - is it difficult for incumbents to service this market?
Or is the nature of this market relatively unattractive to the incumbents? Or are there other factors such as language or seasonality or culture which makes this market unattractive to the incumbents.
That's the market that you want to target.
3. are you in a position to service this market?
Do you have the right, knowledge and tools to capture customers in this segment service them and make your presence felt in that market.
In the case of the allies, they needed to make sure that they had amphibian landing equipment for their first set of landings in Normandy.
And once they landed there, the troops had to defeat the minimal German presence there and also look at setting up ports so that additional ships could land there. Of course the troops who landed there had to be trained in all of this before they actually made the landing there!
Curious how to think about the Minimum Viable Product in the context of the Beach Head Strategy?
If you're looking at launching in a new market and would like to explore the Beach Head strategy ...