Guy Kawasaki: How to Drive the Competition Crazy


Guy Kawasaki

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Guy Kawasaki is speaking at the Infopia ecommerce conference in Salt Lake City today. (You might also enjoy reading my notes from the last time Guy was in Utah.) His topic is how to drive the competition crazy. In standard Guy style, he gives his talk as a list of ten things:

  1. Find a mighty opposite - find a great enemy who is trying to do something in direct opposition to what you're doing. Portray them in ways that emphasize how you're different. It doesn't have to be a company. It could be something like "ignorance." Finding an opposite allows you to make meaning instead of just making money.
  2. Know thyself - you can't fight the competition unless you know what you're about and where you stand. Guy recommends creating a mantra (not a mission statement) as the first step. Here's Kynetx' mantra: automate context.
  3. Know thy customer - everyone says this, but the key is the degree to which you do it. Don't farm it out; do it yourself. Making sense of who your customers are and what they want will drive you crazy--not just your competition.
  4. Know thy enemy - the best way is to become your competition's customer. What's the shipping policy, their credit policy, etc.? How do they do it? Get first hand knowledge. Go to their conferences.
  5. Focus on the customer/create good shitake - too many companies focus on their competition. People don't care about your battle with the competition; they only care about whether or not you serve their interests. The most important aspect of focusing on your customer, you have to build a good product that your customers want to buy. He takes a swipe at SEO: Google is in the business of finding good stuff. If you build good stuff, Google will find it because their interests are aligned with yours. Great products aren't a little better; they're 10 times better. Your product ought to be emotive and be polarizing. He references his DICEE advice.
  6. Turn customers into evangelists - if customers are emotional about your product they will talk about it--for free. Guy uses Nike as an example: they're not selling cotton and leather stiched together as shoes. They're selling ideas and emotion.
  7. Create your own day - Levi Strauss commissioned a study on the effect of casual dress on workplace morale and productivity. They made this available to the press and created a "casual dress implementation kit." Lots of papers picked it up. They created their own opportunity.
  8. Make good by doing good - align yourself with good causes.
  9. Turn your competition into allies - find ways to work with, rather than against your competition. Where can you be collborative to engage new markets? He gives the example of J.B. Hunt trucking teaming with railroads to put semi trailers on flatbeds.
  10. Play with the minds - Once you've done everything else, play games with the competition. He tells of a pizza company that offers 2 for 1 pizzas if you tear out and bring in the yellow pages ad of their competition. He talks of a small business person sitting next to a Home Depot who renamed his business "Main Entrance" to get people coming to Home Depot to come into his store.
  11. Use Twitter - A bonus 11th tip. What good is a cell phone that allows you to listen to random snippets of conversation? Use search to find out what people are saying anything about you or your company? When you see people talking about things your sell they are potential customers. Guy gives a demo of Twitter to a room of people who aren't Tweeple (for the most part). He demos Tweetdeck (FTW). He recommends using TwitterHawk but staying away from the autopost features.

Good marketing pisses people off. If people aren't getting mad at you, then you're boring and bland. You can't let a vocal minority tell you what to do.

I enjoyed this talk a lot. First of all Guy is an entertaining speaker. Second, and more important, even though he's using some material from older talks I've heard, he's constantly refreshing and rearranging his content. There's new stuff here and it adds new interest.