I read Guy Kawasaki's " How to Drive Your Competition Crazy" last winter while we were at our old office in the Mission District of San Francisco. At the time, I considered its concepts so effective that I should keep them private. As the Paubox product and brand has continued to grow and as we bring on more new staff, I've since changed my outlook. Without further ado, here are my takeaways from How to Drive Your Competition Crazy by Guy Kawasaki.
Part One: Lay The Groundwork
As far as internet time goes, this book is a Smithsonian classic. Written in 1995, Guy gives out his email in Chapter 0. Does Macway@aol.com still work? Split into four parts, Guy begins Part One by laying the groundwork. Here are my takeaways from Part One:
- Guy's role at Apple back in the day was to evangelize software companies to create Macintosh products.
- They defined success against IBM (the market leader) as diminishing IBM's advantages and creating new advantages for Apple.
- To succeed, you don't have destroy your competition or drive it out of business, you just have to disrupt things.
- "A good enemy forces you to improve your company. Competing with a good enemy excites your employees and builds credibility for your in the marketplace."
- A good enemy is an industry leader that's older, larger, slower to move, and has more money than you.
- A bad enemy is an another upstart: They are aggressive, hungry and willing to fight to the death.
- Trying to defeat another startup is risky. If you win, the victory is insignificant. If you lose, it's embarrassing.
- With a good enemy (industry leader), you can define victory on your own terms. Victory can be as simple as gaining market share.
- To truly drive your competition crazy, you need to understand your own company first. That's identity, goals and expertise.
- "When you go within yourself, you're going to discover you can be better than anybody else."
- "Killer instinct always has to go with the love of dharma, the righteousness of your cause. You have to do something that's worthwhile."
- You can provoke your own anger and provoke your staff's anger to reach excellence. (Agreed)
- In a nutshell, you are competing against yourself for your own excellence. It is not a competition with others.
- "If you compete with yourself, there is no limitation to how good you can be."
- Do you know your customers well enough to go beyond their articulated desires and build something truly new and revolutionary? I think this is truly the essence of Apple while Jobs was at the helm. I'd like to think we've done this with Paubox.
- "Know your customers well enough to satisfy the needs they cannot even express. Then get to know your customers again to satisfy the changes and upgrades they can express." This is beautiful.
- Competitive research starts at the top and it isn't hard or necessarily expensive.
- Common sense and hustle are more important than money.
- How well do you know your competition?
- What distribution channels do they use?
- How do they position their products?
- How do they create new products?
- What are their pricing, discount, payment terms and refund policies?
- How do they handle customer service?
- How do they gather customer feedback?
- You should become a customer of your competitor.
- Anyone who will violate your competitor's confidentiality will violate yours as well.
- Check out your competition's booth at trade shows and conferences.
- Achilles' Heel advertising: Discover your competitor's weakness and combat it with your strengths.
- King of the Hill advertising: Discover your competitor's strength and market yourself as being stronger.
- Constantly do what's best for your customers. This will keep your competition guessing.
Part Two: Do the Right Thing
We are on a mission to eliminate faxes
Part Two is about making and keeping your customers happy. Here are my takeaways from Part Two:
- "If you always focus on your customers, you may never need to fire a shot at your competition."
- The best way to drive your competition crazy is make and keep your customers happy.
- Focusing on beating the competition rather than focusing on the customer is bad strategy.
- "Focus on your customer, lull your competition to sleep, and slay it in its slumber." Wow what a good quote.
- Law of Increasing Returns: The more people who use your product, the more likely it is a prospect will talk to them and be influenced to buy. Similar to the Network Effect.
- Become a viable alternative to the leader.
- Instead of lowering price, consider improving your product and its solution set. Make value, not war.
- "The bottom line is: Attack a decisive point, branch out, and strive for constant disruption."
- Evangelism is the reason the Mac become successful. (biased opinion I'm sure)
- A cause embodies a vision and seizes the high ground. It changes how things are done and its effects are irreversible.
- Above the Fray: How can burnish your company's image to have a sense of talent, taste and creativity?
- If you're going to drive your competition crazy, seize a big idea.
Part Three: Do Things Right
Part Three began with establishing brand loyalty. Here are my takeaways from Part Three:
- Constantly find ways to establish brand loyalty early and quickly.
- Put yourself in your customers' shoes to appreciate your advantage.
- Simple actions to eliminate customer headaches (friction) can differentiate you from competition and create incredible loyalty.
- Outrageous Substitute Positioning: Comparing a new product in a category to an established product in a completely different category. Make sure you have credibility first before doing this.
- Traits of a successful guerrilla marketer:
- Love of learning
- Ego strength
- Consistently follow up with your customers.
- "Customers are loyal to nothing but their wallet."
- Don't slouch on community service.
Part Four: Push the Envelope
What's Zix Afraid Of?
Part Four began with a story about Ben & Jerry's in its early days and their "What's the Doughboy Afraid Of" picket against the Pillsbury Corporation. Here are the rest of my takeaways from Part Four:
- Like Ben & Jery's, seize opportunities in unlikely places and leverage them.
- Never forget: America loves entrepreneurs and underdogs.
- Can you query your customers to discover how they might be using your product in new and clever ways?
- "Industry outsiders have little to lose in pursuing radical innovations." (Strongly agree)
- Don't worry about the competition. Ignore them and focus on the customer.
- "Delighting customers is the best way to preserve and protect your company."
- "Refusing to retaliate when your competition expects you to may irritate it more then anything else you can do."
- The ultimate way to drive your competition crazy is to delight your customers and avoid confrontation.