Member Peter Bailey Speaks: Be the White Knight, Not a Kamikaze

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by a CEO of a technology company that was disrupting a traditional market by replacing hardware with a much cheaper software solution. The company was in a strong growth phase and investors were starting to clamor for direct public criticism of the market incumbent.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in your pilot’s chair, I’d grow as much as I could under the radar, avoiding a direct attack against the gigantic competitor. You have a great product that solves a real problem at a far reduced cost. Instead of attacking, turn on your marketing engines and create a perceived void in the market for what you offer.

The enthusiasm and ambition you bring to our Alliance group is one of our key assets. I’ve seen how you go after problems directly and with an alacrity that is downright enviable. Yet if I were you, I’d temper my marketing strategy. Though your company is growing fast, your competitor is many many times your size. Don’t invite a battle you can’t win for lack of resources. Also, your competitor is aware of the technology you are developing and is also developing it themselves, so a direct attack may not work. And you want to – for now- keep all doors open.  Who knows, maybe they will one day even acquire your company for this very reason. It’s best not to make enemies at this point.

Instead, channel your instinct for aggressive marketing into creating a perceived void in the market that you address. Persuasively suggest a new trend and invite the market to latch onto it so you can reap the rewards. Exhibit your strength by allowing prospective buyers to come to their own conclusion about the unmistakable value you offer. In short, be the white knight that rides in and offers customers more value for less. And by avoiding direct conflict, you can fly under the radar longer, increasing your market share and growing to a level where, perhaps, one day it would make sense to attack the gorilla as a means to grab more share. There is no need to pick that fight today.