This is the flip side to The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy. It’s meant to help you avoid being driven crazy by your competition. This isn’t a top ten–it’s only a top five because the key to maintaining your sanity is to keep things simple.
1. Delight your customer. As the old saying goes, “The best defense is a good offense.” If you continue to delight your customer, it’s unlikely that your competition can get to you. There are two reasons this is true. First, you’ll be successful at driving your competition crazy, and not vice versa. Second, you’ll be so busy that you won’t have the time to worry about the mundanity (mundane + insanity) of what your competition is trying to do to you.
2. Don’t assume that “perfect information” exists. It was bad enough before Google alerts and other news gathering services, but companies have begun to assume a world of perfect information as a result of such technology. They think that the minute the competition announces a new feature, service, or partnership the entire marketplace is aware of it–and buy it. In reality, only you, your competition, and Google know what was announced. By overreacting, you may inadvertently increase awareness and exacerbate the problem.
3. Take a chill pill. Never let your competition see you sweat. Instead, keep focusing on delighting your customer. Certainly you shouldn’t lash out and inflame hostilities because you’ll probably do something stupid. In the story of Sinbad, there is an episode where his sailors threw stones at monkeys in coconut trees in order to provoke the monkeys into throwing coconuts back at them. That’s exactly what the hungry and thirsty sailors wanted the monkeys to do.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore your competition. You should know as much you can about them. If your competition beats you to the punch, you should take it personally and then furiously out-innovate and out-implement them. You just shouldn’t let your competition see you sweat because they will gain strength and confidence from your nervousness. I also believe noticing that you’re sweating will make you sweat more.
There is one more case when you should take a chill pill: when your competition has beaten you to the punch, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. In this case, as my mother often told me, “Don’t worry about things you can’t change. Focus on things that you can.”
4. Hang a negative on your competition. Here’s an illustrative story. When F. W. Woolworth opened his first store, a competitor that had served the community for years hung out a sign that said: “This same spot for fifty years.” Nice shot, huh? Except Woolworth then put up a sign that said, “A week old. No old stock.” The lesson is to try to find a crucial negative that you can hang onto your competition. Maybe they will leave you alone next time.
5. Act like a maniac. Yes, this is an apparent contradiction to taking a chill pill. What can I say? I’m a complex person. To continue the theme of making your competition leave you alone, one effective strategy is to convince the competition not to attack you because you might do something really crazy. Virgin Airlines personifies this behavior. Who would want to get in a battle with an airline that offers free motorcycle and limousine rides to the airport, in-flight massages and manicures, and accepts the frequent-flyer miles of its competition? Most rational companies would conclude that it’s smart to not engage a maniacal competitor.
The bottom line on remaining sane is that it you don’t let your competition play with your mind. All this takes is mental toughness and a focus on the customer:
“My way of fighting the competition is the positive approach. Stress your own strengths, emphasize quality, service, cleanliness, and value, and the competition will wear itself out trying to keep up.” Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s
Technorati Tags: competition, guy kawasaki
The Art of (Market) Timing
The World is going insane. Guy Kawasaki releases How to Remain Sane.Perfect timing.
How to Remain Sane
Guy Kawasaki on how to remain sane:
This is the flip side to The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy. Its meant to help you avoid being driven crazy by your competition. This isnt a top tenits only a top five because the…
If I don’t understand, why do you bother to read my blog?
That could go in the top 10 comments comeback book if they had such a thing.
I think focusing too much on your competition is unhealthy. Make your customers happy, they’ll tell others, and that will in turn drive the competition crazy without driving yourself crazy.
Nice Post Guy. Don’t listen to Charles too much. He’s to busy listening to himself. I for one like Microsoft and Apple products. I purchase great products from both companies. I even considered purchasing an IBM laptop last year. Charles, let up on Guy – he’s seen a lot of action go down. I think he is fully worth listening too.
I worked for a company for more than two years innovating along the way. They took lots of my good ideas (and tossed some great ones as well). I now work for myself and employ all of the tossed ideas from the last two years. I don’t focus on my competition at all; I actually see them as my allies when I do think of them. I actually have deals with two competing parties incase they get too much work, we spread the wealth. I guess this can work on very small levels with smaller companies. It’s all about looking at things differently. Just my two cents.
If one can’t see the value of a well plced jab at the competition, without appearing nasty or jealous, the one should write their own blog and not bother reading the little people of the world.
I love it that people who’ve been in the workforce a whole 10 years always want to tell us how everything should be done.
I’ve been out here for 25 years and I’ve seen and said it all…twice.
There’s no way I will ever quit reminding my customers of the problems they had when they were using someone besides me to provide the products I rep.
That is the very same thing as Guy means when he says Hang A Negative On Your Competition. It’s good advice when used properly.
Thanks Charles, for that bit of levity.
Unless you graduated at a really advanced age, you haven’t even been alive for 30 years, much less have a track record of 30 plus years in a single industry.
I’ve been making a living as a sales and customer service consultant since before you were out of grade school. Just in the last 10 years I’ve had sales of over $35 million….proven and documented.
When you graduated in ’96, I had been in more trenches and sold more product, face-to-face, than most people will ever dream about.
I’d been in the work force for 19 years when you started, according to the info on your blog.
Either way, you’re entitled to have your own opinions and be wrong. Both of which I gave 6 years of my life fighting for.
Write about sales and customer relationships and such on your own blog, instead of writing about killing your electronic toys, and then we’ll be more inclined to listen to comments that are mostly just your opinion stated loudly, not based on facts or proven strategies.
When a commenters blog has Categories like ” Art, Politics, Computers “, and other non-sales topics, we tend to dismiss his comments as that of a pretender who isn’t even shaving yet…at least not every day.
I think Charles missed the “point” about hanging a negative. It’s about responding to a perceived negative.
Someone makes a big deal about being the long-time player in the market? You have to respond with being about new and fresh.
Apple’s reinvigoration came from Think Different. After half a decade of comformity in everyone moving to Windows, Apple made a big deal about being different.
In my day job, a company makes a big shout about being IT literate in Macs and PCs (competing on my turf). It’s easy to respond with a tirade about how they bring their Mac problems to us but it’s easier to say that we LEAVE PC problems to them.
So, hang negatives on them. All of Guy’s advice is to be used APPROPRIATELY. That’s why “Take a Chill Pill” does not actually conflict with “Act Crazy”. Both of them discuss where Charles is coming from. Change the rules of this guerilla marketing by either ignoring it with grace or changing the rules and making the competition fear your next move.
At your IBM/Apple reseller in the 80s, how could a customer assure themselves of any sort of quality? Are we to honestly believe your salespeople gave the customer the best result? Or did they push for the best commission sale?
I’m a spring chicken compared to some of you old timers (see? fresh and new!) but you HAVE to know that advice on the internet is worth every penny. If you run a car dealership and start giving away cars because “Guy told me to Act Crazy” then…jeez…
Here’s a quote to remember:
I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.
Aha, what’s so special about the cheesemakers?
“Obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.”
Well said, Guy.
“Delight your customer” is critical. The only competition is the one between the customer’s needs/desires and what you can provide. The rest are just details.
I constantly get the “how are you different from your competitors?” question. I usually start with, “I have your attention.”
You can always create an impressive spreadsheet that tells you what the authors knew before they started, especially with software. The question shouldn’t be, “who has the most features?”; it should be, “who can give me what I need three years from now?”
P.S. And yes, one of the “details” is being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the competition.
Charles, You need to read Guy’s bio. Apple went down the toilet long after he left. When he came back as an Apple Fellow in 1996ish, Apple was neck deep in the toilet and starting to look to its past to pull it out. The evangelists I worked with at Apple as a third party developer at the time were relearning the craft, and relearning it well. While Steve Jobs gets all the credit for the iMac, its development was already far along in that lean time. It probably took Steve Jobs to steer the company out of the disaster it was in, but the resurgance started long before his NeXTStep could morph into Mac OS X and relied on most of the good things already in play when he became iCEO. In short, you’re full of bull shitalky.
How to Remain Sane
by: Guy Kawasaki This is the flip side to The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy. It’s meant to help you avoid being driven crazy by your competition. This isn’t a top ten–it’s only a top five because the key…
‘When F. W. Woolworth opened his first store, a competitor that had served the community for years hung out a sign that said: “This same spot for fifty years.”’
I heard a senior advertising guy attribute the birth of modern advertising to a bakery store in Chicago who put up a sign saying “We sell pie like Mom used to make.”
This was not the birth of modern advertising.
The birth of modern advertising was when the guy who ran the bakery store opposite put up a sign in *his* window which read:
“We sell pie like Mom tried to make, but couldn’t.”
I can appreciate the “don’t talk bad about your competition” position. I have generally taken that approach in my sales tactics. I will tell you however that if in a pitch meeting I am given the chance to “hang the negative” then I will do so in a subtle but factual way. I am also aware of the fact that if I am going to speak negatively I better be right.
That said, it just seems odd to me that you would be so “negative” about this post. Reading YOUR blog posts for the last year reads like the memoirs of someone who is frustrated with life in general.
If you are so determined that positivity is the answer why are 99% of the posts on your blog negative and angry?
Are your customers aware of your blog? I would submit that perhaps your competitors could easily “hang” your blog on you.
My previous post was @ Charles … FYI
I think the IBM strategy *was* hanging a negative on the competition, in a subtle yet effective way. IBM’s products were always priced higher than the rest of the market, and like Charles mentioned, IBM did not want to invite comparison shopping. “Our products are the best” is why they are priced so much higher, plus they had the amazing weight of that IBM brand name. Believe me, it was more than considerable in that market space. The catch-phrase of the day was “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”.
To this day, I still use that same philosophy. If a customer relates a bad experience with another product, I listen patiently and then explain why that bad experience could never occur with our product. No bashing required.
Throwing stones at monkeys
In a recent post, Guy Kawasaki recounts a fun story: “In the story of Sinbad, there is an episode where his sailors threw stones at monkeys in coconut trees in order to provoke the monkeys into throwing coconuts back at…
Thanks for the perspective on the Executive summary from Bill Reichert. I found it helpful.
I was even more enriched to read the plethora of comments. I will make sure I don’t just read your blog in bloglines so that I can see the range of commentary.
Seen Around the Web – April 30, 2006
I was planning to write a new article this weekend, but got swamped by the day job. Ahhh… life at a startup in Silicon Valley! :) Never one to leave my faithful readers empty handed (!) – I decided to…
How to Remain Sane
by: Guy Kawasaki This is the flip side to The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy. Its meant to help you avoid being driven crazy by your competition. This isnt a top ten–its only a top five because the key…