plastic pieces from the game of risk
Market Strategy

If you aren’t familiar with the game Risk, you are missing out on one of the (objectively) best strategy games ever created.


The goal in Risk is to take over the world one territory at a time. Play continues until one player reigns supreme.


Sound familiar?


Dealerships want new customers, but conquests can be a challenge with most marketing methods. And the need for new conquests can come at the expense of protecting your existing customers from defecting to your opposition.


So how can your dealership win your game of Risk? It comes down to a strategy that balances conquest and retention.



Territories and Board

You’ll rarely rule all of the territories in one area right from the start.


Start by surveying your current territory for areas of opportunity and weakness. We recommend targeting your marketing by zip code rather than radius. Depending on your market, your customers may not be coming from the nearest zip codes, but from miles away. Within each zip code, you’ll have three smaller targets and strategies:

  • Retention: Area you have already won but have to work to keep.
  • Conquest: Area controlled by a competitor that you need to win.
  • Battleground: Area occupied by multiple competitors but dominated by no one.


With a deeper analysis of your market, you can determine the best customers to target for conquest, how to win each area, and where you’re in danger of losing ground to the opposition.



Armies are used both to attack and defend territories to take over the board. As you win new territories, you slowly gain and rearrange armies to prepare for future conquests while holding your ground against competitors.


The infantry, cavalry, and artillery are your marketing channels and campaigns. Digital advertising, email and direct mail, newsletters, and social media can be used to promote sales and service specials, dealership differentiators, OEM campaigns, and more. As you successfully convert customers to sales or service, you adjust your strategy to target other segments.


Acquiring new customers also means you need to shift your communications to keep your dealership in their minds when they need a new vehicle, emergency service, or regular maintenance visits.


If left without communications, your customers become easy targets for other dealerships and service providers to conquest. Suddenly you are left without customers who may have been strongholds for your business operations.



In Risk, battles for territory come down to the number of defending armies and the roll of the dice.


When a player decides to attack an opponent’s territory, they take three dice and the defendant rolls two.


The highest roll wins, but ties benefit the defense. Your marketing will help your dealership avoid the tie in both conquest and retention battles. Whatever your differentiator, show customers why they should choose you. Whether lower prices, quicker processes in sales or service, aftersales benefits, incentives, or others, customers look for the dealerships offering convenience, a perceived fair price, and an overall better experience.


Let’s Analyze the Strategy

Good strategy needs to focus on both retention and conquest.


Over the last few years, customer defection rates have been increasing to over 50 percent, meaning you have to do everything you can to keep half your customers and find a way to replace the half that leaves. To replace those lost customers, you need to target your conquest marketing effectively, especially considering average closing rates for conquest customers is only 5-20 percent.


When you do conquest a new sale or service customer, you need to immediately start working to retain them. You will always need to market for retention to keep the customers you win—especially when they are still targets in your competitors’ strategy.


So go on, work your two-part strategy to conquer the dealership world.

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