According to Fox, fierce organizations are defined by key people – at all levels and in all areas — who enable their companies to compete fiercely but with principles for sales, profits, market share, and especially talent at a time when competition for them is greater than ever before. Competitive companies “are ethical, honest, compliant with regulations, and model citizens. They are sometimes feared and always watched by their competitors. They are loved by their customers. They are easy to do business with, but they never take it easy…The savvy, smart, well-led companies see bad times as a good time to gain market share, to out-fox the competition…aggressively pursue underserved customers, market to brand-indifferent customers and work mightily to make them brand-loyal, go after other companies’ dissatisfied, angry customers, buy under-priced hard assets, build capacity, hire newly available human talent, and acquire product licenses, anxious good suppliers, undermarketed products, new wholesalers and distributors, and core relevant acquisitions.”
Those who aspire to be fierce competitors must never let anyone else outwork them. “It is noteworthy that he or she who is in the proverbial ‘right place at the right time’ is the hardest worker.” They also believe that everyone is a possible customer. “Don’t be biased against a possible customer by the way they talk, what they wear, or where they live.” Here in Texas, many people “wear a big hat but have no “cattle.” Fierce competitors work hard and smart to know who are the “cattle owners.” Then they make the sale and get the business. “Figure out how and when to deliver later. Getting the sale is the hard part.” And finally, they “always answer the phone” whenever it rings and are then well-prepared to provide the information requested or the solution needed.
I think this Fox’s best, his most important book…thus far. I cannot think of a better gift to give to those who will soon graduate from schools, colleges, and universities as well as to those who have only recently embarked upon a career. In fact, I highly recommend this book to all others who share Jeffrey Fox’s compelling faith in the power of passionate and principled competition. As his riveting narrative clearly indicates, the most valuable “business principles” are also the most valuable “life principles.”
You’ve got two challenges. Keep you current customers very, very happy. And, find your next customer.
But customers are not like they used to be. They get to choose – everything! And most of all, they get to choose whether or not to be your customer.
The experience economy… signifies the final blow to the notion of mass marketing. Today, the experience of the product or service – the experience of the exchange itself – defines delight and ultimately spells success or failure for the business and the brand. Experience is not objective. And it is your customer’s perception of the experience that you must strive to improve… The increased intimacy of that experience is what allows customers to ascribe a deeper connection and more value to products and services. The structuring of that intimacy is the goal of Persuasion Architecture.
At the heart of the experience economy is this. Was the customer’s experience memorable (in a good way)? Here is a quote from The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage by B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore:
Companies stage an experience when they engage customers in a memorable way.
Customers remember two kinds of experiences. The really good ones. And the bad ones. You don’t want the bad, and you don’t want the “neutral.” You want your customers to have good, memorable experiences. Those are the only kind that will keep them coming back, and spreading the word, in this era. Why? Because they simply have too many choices…
(By the way, they will also spread the word re. the bad experiences – whether you want them to or not).)
So, ask this – over and over again:
are my customers experiencing good positive experiences when they come to my event or buy my product or service?
If not, you’ve got some better experiences to create.
(By the way, the one guarantee of a bad experience is an experience filled with “hassles.” Aim for hassle free experiences!)
There is no other book reviewer I hold in higher regard than I do Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times.
Here is her review of Michael Lewis’ latest book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, published by W.W. Norton & Company.
Investors Who Foresaw the Meltdown
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published: March 14, 2010
The global financial crisis of 2008, which economists estimate could result in several trillion dollars of losses and which has already cost American taxpayers billions of dollars in government bailouts, was triggered not by war or recession but by a crazy, man-made money machine, built on flawed mathematical models that most financial executives did not really understand themselves. Greedy and heedless, Wall Street firms had been turning subprime mortgages — loans made to people with low creditworthiness or little documentation — into exotic, toxic financial products that they made a fortune laundering and reselling, and they were enabled in doing so by the very ratings agencies that were supposed to police risk. The insanity of this growing and highly leveraged trade in mortgage derivatives continued even as the quality of the underlying loans grew increasingly dubious, even as it became increasingly likely that the American housing bubble was going to pop.
The clear and present danger posed by this deranged edifice built on the unstable foundation of subprime mortgages was not foreseen by the chief executives of America’s premier banks. It was not foreseen by government regulators, by Treasury officials or by the Fed. It was foreseen, however, by a handful of investors, who were aghast at the madness they saw on the Street and who used their prescience to make a fortune off the financial system’s calamitous meltdown. Some of their stories are told by Michael Lewis in “The Big Short.”
No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis, the author of “Liar’s Poker,” that now classic portrait of 1980s Wall Street. His entertaining new book does not attempt a macro view of the financial crisis, but instead proposes to open a small window on the calamities by recounting the stories of some savvy renegades who cashed in on their conviction that the system was rotten. In doing so Mr. Lewis faces the same problem that the Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman faced in “The Greatest Trade Ever,” his recent book about John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who made $15 billion in 2007 by shorting the housing bubble — the problem, namely, that the reader is put in the position of rooting for people who, while smarter or more farsighted than those who helped bring about catastrophe in the first place, were nonetheless trying to make money (who saw a rare opportunity, as one put it) by betting against the health of our financial system.