Digitising thoughts

and getting immortal on the fly

Art of driving competition crazy

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on July 4, 2006

The Art of Driving Your Competition CrazyBy Guy Kawasaki

“The purpose of competition is not to beat someone down, but to bring out the best in every player.” —Walter Wheeler

One of the signs of a boom — or at least a boomlet — is that companies start wanting to drive their competition crazy. This occurs when “survival” is no longer an issue and optimization or maximization can become a corporate goal. However, the desire to do things to the competition can lead a company astray — or drive it to even greater heights.

Companies go astray when defeating the competition becomes more important than taking care of customers. When companies become obsessed with the pursuit of excellence, by contrast, they often reach new levels of greatness. Here’s how to avoid the former and achieve the latter.
Know thyself. Before you can drive your competition crazy, you have to understand what your company stands for. Otherwise, you’ll only succeed in driving yourself crazy. For example, Apple stands for cool technology. It will never represent a CIO’s safe bet, an “enterprise software company,” or service and support. If it decided it wanted to drive Microsoft crazy by sucking up to CIOs, it would drive itself crazy — that is, if it didn’t perish trying.

Know thy customer. The second step is to truly understand what your customer wants from you — and, for that matter, what she doesn’t want from you. One thing that your customer seldom wants to do is to help you drive your competition crazy. That’s in your head, not your customer’s. One more thing: A good company listens to what a customer says she wants. A great company anticipates what a customer needs — even before she knows she wants it.

Know thy enemy. The third step is to truly understand your competition. You cannot drive your competition crazy unless you understand their strengths and weaknesses. You should become your competition’s customer by buying their products and services. I never truly understood what it was like to be a customer of Microsoft until I bought a Sony Vaio and used Windows. Sure, I had read many comparisons and competitive analyses, but they were nothing compared with hands-on usage.

Focus on the customer. Here’s what most people find surprising: The best way to drive your competition crazy is not to do anything to it. Rather, the best way is for you to succeed, because your success, more than any action, will drive your competition crazy. And the way you become successful is not by figuring out what you can do to the competition but for the customer. You succeed at doing things for the customer by using the knowledge that you’ve gained in the first three steps: understanding what you do, what your customer wants and needs, and what your competition doesn’t do. At the intersection of these three factors lies the holy grail of driving your competition crazy. For most companies, the key to driving the competition crazy is out-innovating, out-servicing, or outpricing them.

Turn customers into evangelists. There are few things that drive a competitor more crazy than an unpaid thunder-lizard group of customers who become evangelists for a company. I covered this topic in detail in my blog posting “The Art of Evangelism,” but the gist is this: Create a great product or service, put it out there (“let a hundred flowers blossom”), see who falls in love with it, open up your arms to them (they will come running to you), and then take care of them. It’s that simple.

Make good by doing good. Doing good has its own, very sufficient rewards, but sometimes you can make good and do good at the same time. For example, if you own a chain of hardware stores, you can help rebuild a community after a natural disaster. You’re bound to get a lot of publicity and create bonds with the community — this will drive your competition crazy. And you’ll be doing something good!

Turn the competition into allies. One way to get rid of your competition is to drive them out of business. I suppose this might be attractive to you, but a better way is to turn your competition into allies. My favorite author of children’s books is Tomie dePaola. My favorite dePaola book is The Knight and the Dragon. This is the story of a knight and a dragon who train to slay each other. They are smashingly unsuccessful at doing battle and eventually decide to go into business together. Using the dragon’s firebreathing ability and the knight’s salesmanship, they create the K & D Bar-B-Q. For example, if a Home Depot opens up next to your hardware store, let it sell the gas barbecues, and you refill people’s propane tanks.

Play with their minds. If you’re doing all this positive, good stuff, then it’s okay to have some fun with your competition — that is, to intentionally play with their minds. Here are some examples to inspire you:

During the Korean War, the U.S. Army Office of Strategic Services left a supply of condoms for the Communist Chinese to find. The condoms were specially manufactured in an extra-large size. The label on the boxes, however, said, “Made in the USA, Size Medium.”
Hannibal once had his soldiers tie bundles of brush to the horns of cattle. At night, his soldiers lit the brushwood on fire, and Hannibal’s Roman enemies thought that thousands of soldiers were marching toward them.

A pizza company that was entering the Denver market for the first time ran a promotion offering two pizzas for the price of one if customers brought in the torn-out yellow pages ad of its competition.

A national hardware store chain opened up right next to a longtime community hardware store. After a period of depression and panic, the store owner came up with a very clever ploy. He put up a sign on the front of his store that said, “Main Entrance.”

© 2006 Nightingale-Conant Corporation

Have you seen my other blog?

Advertisements

One Response to “Art of driving competition crazy”

  1. whoami123 said

    .

    We work like a horse.
    We eat like a pig.
    We like to play chicken.
    You can get someone’s goat.
    We can be as slippery as a snake.
    We get dog tired.
    We can be as quiet as a mouse.
    We can be as quick as a cat.
    Some of us are as strong as an ox.
    People try to buffalo others.
    Some are as ugly as a toad.
    We can be as gentle as a lamb.
    Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
    Some of us drink like a fish.
    We can be as proud as a peacock.
    A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
    You can get a frog in your throat.
    We can be a lone wolf.
    But I’m having a whale of a time!

    You have a riveting web log
    and undoubtedly must have
    atypical & quiescent potential
    for your intended readership.
    May I suggest that you do
    everything in your power to
    honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
    Designer/Architect as well
    as your revering audience.
    As soon as we acknowledge
    this Supreme Designer/Architect,
    Who has erected the beauteous
    fabric of the universe, our minds
    must necessarily be ravished with
    wonder at this infinate goodness,
    wisdom and power.

    Please remember to never
    restrict anyone’s opportunities
    for ascertaining uninterrupted
    existence for their quintessence.

    There is a time for everything,
    a season for every activity
    under heaven. A time to be
    born and a time to die. A
    time to plant and a time to
    harvest. A time to kill and
    a time to heal. A time to
    tear down and a time to
    rebuild. A time to cry and
    a time to laugh. A time to
    grieve and a time to dance.
    A time to scatter stones
    and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a
    time to turn away. A time to
    search and a time to lose.
    A time to keep and a time to
    throw away. A time to tear
    and a time to mend. A time
    to be quiet and a time to
    speak up. A time to love
    and a time to hate. A time
    for war and a time for peace.

    Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
    Dr. Whoami

    P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
    that the common culture of my youth
    is gone for good. It was hollowed out
    by the rise of ethnic “identity politics,”
    then splintered beyond hope of repair
    by the emergence of the web-based
    technologies that so maximized and
    facilitated cultural choice as to make
    the broad-based offerings of the old
    mass media look bland and unchallenging
    by comparison.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: