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Five Killer Strategies for

Trouncing the Competition


by George Stalk, Jr. and Rob Lachenauer

Hardball
Management thinking has gone soft,
with its emphasis on squishy things
like corporate culture and the
coddling of customers. We will the
playbook for a dog-eat-dog world.
Winner in business play rough and dont
apologize for it.

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The Hardball Manifesto


Focus relentlessly on competitive
advantage.
Strive for extreme competitive
advantage.
Avoid attacking directly.
Exploit peoples will to win.
Know the caution zone.

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Focus relentlessly on competitive


advantage
Hardball players strive to widen the
performance gap between themselves and
competitors.
Eg: Transportation cost of reduction of wall
-mart

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Strive for extreme competitive


advantage
To hardball players, theres
something far more important than
competitive advantage.
Often, the hardball competitor has an
economic system that is
unassailable.
Study us
all
you want

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Avoid attacking directly.


History shows that a military force
must be several times more than
enemies to win in direct attract.

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Exploit peoples to win


Hardball requires guts as well as smarts.
Victory often belongs to those who want it
is engaging our minds and
theSpirit
most.
We came. We
our hearts and our souls to do the
saw. We
kicked tail.

right thing.
Southwest spirit is you.
Training
Video

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Advertizem
ent

Know the caution zone.


The hardball player ventures closer to the boundary,
whether established by law or social conventions,
than competitors would ever dare.
legal and accounting counsel to determine what
they can and cant do.

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Know the caution zone. Contd.

Does it break any existing laws?


Is the action good for the customer?
Will competitors be directly hurt by it?
Will the action touch a nerve in special-interest groups?

For ALL:
At the risk of repetition, let us stress once again that hardball
is not about breaking, or even bending, the law. It is not about
crooked accounting, breaching contracts, stealing trade
secrets, or predatory pricing. Its not about being mean. Well,
not too mean.

The nicest part of playing hardball is watching your competitors squirm.


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The Hardball Strategies

Devastate rivals profit sanctuaries.


Plagiarize with pride.
Deceive the competition.
Unleash massive and
overwhelming force.
Raise competitors costs.

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10

Devastate rivals profit


sanctuaries
Flooding the market with advertising or making
across-the board price cuts
Most effective strikes are surgical

acuCorp VS SweepCos Business


Profit sanctuary for sweepCos was
canisters type of vacuum cleaner

revenueprofit

Devastate rivals profit


sanctuaries
contd.
Knowledge is the key to devastating a
competitors profit Sanctuary
Competitors costs and
profitability- by category, by
geography and by account

will allow you to hone your attack strategy, adjust prices to inflict the mos
Need to be alert to the legal limits of pricing strategies
There is fine but real line between aggressive and
predatory pricing
Attack on your competitors profit sanctuary
is liable to provoke a strong response

Plagiarize with pride


Hardball player doesnt fear or feel hesitate to steal
any good ideas they see as long as it isnt nailed
down by a robust patent
Hardball plagarism involves
much more than appropriating a
good ideas, they improve it on
Simply replicating the details
isnt enough
Eg. The other airlines that have triedand failed to copy southwest

Ford did copy hondas program


and improved upon it, marketing
it aggressively to new-car buyers

Deceive the competition


Hardball players will mislead rivals to buy time- or to
gain any other kind of competitive advantage
Software company will announce vaporware that
isnt ready for prime time.
In auto industry, prototypes are sometime doctored
up to throw off the competition.
Eg. Wausau Papers

Wausau would offer next-day service to its


distributors in the major Midwestern cities and
encourage them to order small quantities, some
with custom specifications

Deceive the competition


contd.
Press release that the company
had been able to speed
deliveries by holding large
inventories of finished goods and
by working long hours
But the company didnt signal
that it had also undertaken a
major shift in strategy and
operations.
wausau began buying
commodity papers in rolls from
its competitors, cutting and
repackaging them as part of its
overall offering

Unleash massive and overwhelming


force
Hardball player prefer the indirect attack,
sometimes they beat their competitors
with the polar opposite
Eagle snack (Anheuser-Busch ) Vs Firto lays(Roger Enrico)

Firto lays- Salty snacks-potato,corn and tortilla chips


Its expansion into cookies and crackers
New eagle brand salty snacks try to
capture the market of Frito lays

Firtos lays concentrates companys energy, invest


heavily in product quality, and came with up superior
offering-better chips, better service and low price

Raise competitors cost


Successfully driving up a
competitors costs without his
knowing is on of the marks of a true
hardball competitor.
Ex. Large volume differences between
a companys highest and lowest
selling products or services
-as was the case of federal-mogul and
JpI
Rising your competitors costs works
well in certain situations, primarily
when the complexities of a business
introduce cost that can be
misallocated.

Summary
The Manifesto
Relearn the fundamental behaviors of winning:
Focus relentlessly on competitive advantage.
Strive for extreme competitive advantage.
Avoid attacking directly.
Exploit peoples will to win.
Know the caution zone.
The Strategies
Deploy these in bursts of ruthless intensity:
Devastate rivals profit sanctuaries.
Plagiarize with pride.
Deceive the competition.
Unleash massive and overwhelming force.
Raise competitors costs.

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