How to Drive Your Competition Crazy: Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit by Guy Kawasaki is a 1996 book that’s nevertheless still inspiring and interesting to read. It tells the stories of Davids fighting Goliaths in all sorts of markets with better and more inventive marketing. Ask an average geek about his marketing plan for any product out there, and most of us could probably come up with a strategy to lower prices below competitor’s. However, even though we’re wallet driven, note how major market leaders out there don’t win by price.
Coke and Pepsi cost more than a store-branded soda, and nevertheless command humongous market shares compared to Safeway Select or Albertson’s brand. Linux is substantially cheaper than Windows, but nevertheless Windows commands quite a market. Most of the time, as marketers find out, people actually feel good about paying extra for the product that delivers extra advantages and differs from the competition. As much as we all like to save money, we all like to feel good spending money in a smart way, i.e. paying more for sophistication and convenience.
Hence Guy Kawasaki tells the store of his career as Apple evangelist, when Mac market share was even below what it is right now. He tells the story of a Mom-and-Pop hardware store that everybody thought would shut down as soon as Home Depot opened next door. A story of Sears making their catalog smaller than Montgomery Ward’s, therefore ensuring it would be placed on top in any household. A story of a pizza chain offering a 2-for-1 special to anybody who brings a Yellow Pages ad of their competitor (and therefore eliminates the opportunity to know the competitor’s phone number next time they need a tasty Italian dish).
The book is good at pointing that competing on price is usually devastating to the business who starts the price war, and that every employee of an organization is in essence a marketer. It provides a fresh (even though it’s a 10-year-old book) view into what effective marketing is, and provides great food for thought regarding good and bad marketing practices we see today. The book is like a buck on Amazon (or if you know me, ping me and I can give you the book), and I read it over a few bus trips to Palo Alto and back.