“Conspicuous consumption has given way to consumers bragging to their friends that they’ve made good choices. Importantly, there’s an increased degree of vigilance to this new feeling of smart consumerism. The definition of value has become more complex. It’s not that people won’t spend money—we will—but the way that we look at everything has changed.”
That is how Stephen Denny describes “The “New Normal” in his latest book, Killing Giants: 10 Strategies To Topple The Goliath In Your Industry.
It would be naïve not to believe that sentiment doesn’t also hold true for business buyers (B2B). How then should marketers capture the attention of their customers when fewer resources, reduced budgets, and customer scrutiny are also part of “the new normal?”
Let’s take a look at the 10 strategies companies have used and—more importantly—how their customers have helped them to topple Goliath.
Speed: Giants have a culture of process; David’s have a culture of speed. That is their strategy.
Winning in the Last Three Feet: Winning in the last three feet is a reminder never to assume that a customer has already made up their mind. It’s not over until it’s over and the last three feet is where giant killers find success.
Fighting Dirty: Fighting Dirty is about making strategic shifts that no one else can see and turning everything your opponent believes upside down.
Eat the Bug: Eat the bug is exactly what it sounds like. Doing what is taboo and unthinkable to the Goliath in your industry.
Inconvenient Truths: Giants are masters of assumption. They assume every sale is theirs for the taking. An inconvenient truth is about throwing a monkey wrench into their process by making customers pause to consider how your solution might just make more sense.
Polarize on Purpose: You aren’t like the Giants and that’s okay. No one chooses your brand by accident. They are either with you or against you. Force people to make a decision, it’s okay.
Seize the Microphone: Being fast and nimble gives you the advantage being the only one talking to customers and anticipating their next need. Keep being unavoidable while the Giants make rest on their marketing laurels.
All the Wood Behind Arrows: You can’t win everywhere, but being one-dimensional is also a losing game. Have more than one arrow and be the best at what you do, where you want to do it. Dig in deep and make the Giant afraid of the fight.
Show Your Teeth: The Giants in your industry are boring and… fearful. You know you are better and can prove it. No Giant wants to be called out in public and forced to fight against an upstart, it is their Achilles heel.
Taking Down Goliath
Herman Mashaba the founder of Black Like Me, a South African hair care products company, brought his competition out onto Thin Ice. He recognized that they could never connect with the market the way he could. Their product name says it all and connects directly with its customers. Understanding and relating to the market—on their turf (literally)—is what made the difference in toppling an industry giant during apartheid and beyond.
Intuit uses Speed and a burgeoning community of customers to topple industry giants like Microsoft. Intuit’s culture of customer insight and continuous and real-time feedback provides a platform to get new ideas quickly into the hands of customers. As a result, they save time and resources versus wasting them on internal ideas and opinions that may not resonated with users.
Vibram FiveFingers are the strangest athletic shoes ever developed. One could never imagine Nike, Adidas or New Balance producing such a shoe. But that’s exactly what CEO Tony Post did, he ate the bug. When a knee injury took this competitive runner down, FiveFingers gave him the ability to run again—no matter how strange they looked. When Tony, an OEM provider of outer soles, couldn’t sell FiveFingers to his customers, he started selling them himself. Eating the Bug sometimes allows you to compete with your own customers, especially when they don’t have a taste for bugs. Today, FiveFingers has a cult following of bug eaters (aka customers) who are emotionally connected to a shoe that, in some cases, gave them their running lives back.
Often marketers don’t think of pricing as a strategy over promotion, especially in the airline industry. JetBlue understood this well and used it to their advantage. JetBlue understood their customers well enough to know that low prices didn’t make for repeat customers, but the experience of flying with JetBlue did. In September 2009, JetBlue offered an “All You Can Jet Pass,” which provided unlimited flying for 30-days for a price of $599. Sounds crazy, right? Crazy turned into smart when the customer stories started emerging. Empowering humanity is an Inconvenient Truth when other airlines are shutting the door on it.
- Giants have different problems than you do
- Giants can’t go where you go anymore
- The rest never takes care of itself
- Inspiration always comes from elsewhere
- Giants don’t like to fight—especially against you
- Creating the perfect, self-defining storm
If You Trust Your Customers, They Will Help You Topple Goliath
I have only provided a taste of what lies in Killing Giants. There are so many stories and takeaways that I couldn’t possibly share them all. What I can share is that being customer-centric isn’t a pipe dream and Stephen Denny provides not only the strategies to convince you why it’s smart to let you customers into your organization, but how to rethink about the Goliaths in your industry.
Think Goliath is holding you back? Wrong. Only you can do that. Your customers want you to succeed, because then they succeed.
Want to topple your industry Goliath? Get this book…TODAY!
[Image Sources: iStock.com and StephenDenny.com]
[Disclaimer: Stephen Denny is a friend and I received a free copy of Killing Giants to review. However, as you know, I only review books that help companies to get closer to their customers. And this Killing Giants does just that.]