Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why slamming the brakes can be a great product strategy

At the off-leash park and my dog was being jostled either side by a couple of rouge, running hounds. So she did something interesting. She stopped. Instead of continuing running with them, being corralled by the hecklers, she stopped, stood tall, and let them go past. Then she changed course and reasserted herself.

Hollywood car chases. The hero is driving at speed when villains pull up on either side and try to jam his car. So what does he do? Slams the brakes, letting the villains career to their doom.

Intel. The story is told in Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviour of how Intel slammed the brakes on micro processing because they were in an unwinnable war with cheaper manufacturers.

Independent schools. In a war for fees, some schools are slamming the brakes on single sex educational programs and moving co-ed.

Harvey Norman's boss Gerry Harvey copped a lot of flack recently for complaining about competing with cheaper off-shore retailers. Guess what Gerry, slam the brakes because you won't win on price.

So here's the lesson. If you find yourself being jammed either side by competitors in a price war, a technology war or a product war, slam on the brakes. Let them hurtle to their doom whilst you change course, reassert your Brand and, of course, remain top dog.

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