When to Play Offense vs Defense

Published: June 9, 2020

Sometime around mid to end March, every Zoom meeting, webinar, news article, and many of our business peers, started to become focused on expense cutting and minimizing all business-related costs. I hosted a few of these online meetings and was that business peer, teaching and discussing defensive tactics. While I still stand by everything I have shared around expense management and preparing your finances for a shifting market, it is now time to play “offense”.

What do I mean by playing Offense? Over the last few months as we have been focused on expense cutting, we were doing anything possible to protect ourselves and our team members, and, more or less, keep our business afloat; we were playing Defense. Now that our finances have been strategically trimmed, we’ve maximized the use of our resources and capacity of our people, and we’ve built cash reserves, we can start to think about the next steps to take to push our businesses forward — playing Offense.

In this shifting market, or rather, in any market, playing defense will help you to survive, and playing offense will help you to thrive. 

To come out ahead of your competition, you must develop a healthy recipe that uses both Offense and Defense. Think about any championship winning sports team… they have the ultimate combination of Offense and Defense — some players’ roles are to protect the team, while the others focus on that winning shot. Without the two, the team cannot win.

Right now, some of your peers are lacking this combination. They have cut their expenses and have started running their business on the necessities (which is how we should always be running our businesses, by the way), however they may be too scared to make bold moves, timid to take any risks, or uncomfortable taking advantage of available opportunities. They are solely focused on playing Defense. While this is good, it is not optimal. 

My advice to you: start playing Offense immediately. This time is crucial for being bold. This is your time to make big bets and stand out amongst your peers or competitors. I have put together some questions for you to think around as you are shifting to an Offense mindset. I recommend taking a moment to read through these and maybe pick out a few to focus on during your ‘thinking time’:


  • Is marketing, PPC, etc. cheaper and better now with better returns so I can do more of it?
  • Is my target audience more available? If so, should I increase marketing and prospecting investments?
  • More of my customers are now working remotely and have embraced technology. We used to do in-person meetings (listing and buyer presentations). Remote meetings are more efficient. So can we do a lot more presentations?
  • Can I recruit better people now than I could before?
  • Since we are now comfortable working remotely, can I recruit more high-quality remote workers that will let me grow faster at a lower price?
  • Can I supercharge my service now? Can I make improvements that would create a big gap between our service and our competitors’ services?
  • As customers may be more available, maybe it’s a good time to collect more in-depth customer feedback which will lead to service improvement?
  • Can I use marketing to create a wide awareness and presence gap between less-funded competitors or slower-moving incumbents and my company?
  • Will my customers be more available and willing to amplify my brand and service now because they are more attentive?
  • Can I look at organizational issues in my company and solve them more effectively? (Assuming that everyone in a company during a crisis tends to be more focused on survival, more willing to work hard to get along and more open to trying new things.)
  • Can I buy a competitor or merge with another team to grow my customer base, improve my core talent/staff, or augment my service offerings?
  • If I am community-based, can I use the current environment to supercharge my community?
  • Is there a component of my service that I can give for free in a way that will allow me to capture market share when customers are more concerned around their spend (and I can convert them to a full paying service on their next deal(s))?
  • Are there investors that are still investing that could allow me to spend more now when everyone else is cutting?  Should I raise capital?
  • What can I do for my employees in these tough times that they would appreciate and increase their loyalty and connection to the company? Where can I assist those in need in a way that will achieve the same?


While your peers are at a stand still, you are pushing forward and accelerating growth. You are prepared to come out of this shifting market bigger, badder, and better than you ever have been. THAT is why we need to start playing Offense!

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