Retailer Giant Killers

In recent interviews given by Stephen Denny, author of the newly released business management novel, Killing Giants, he explains the universal idea behind the story of David and Goliath. “It is common understanding that we are all being asked to do more with less, and it doesn’t matter what industry or country you are from.” Whether you are a startup business, a Fortune 500 or a Global enterprise, you may be somebody’s Goliath, but also feel like David battling your own giants. Killing Giants can give retailers the strategic insight they need, providing 10 lessons learned, and management strategies for the small guy battling the big guy. These strategies include:

1) Win in the last three feet. Leverage someone else’s investment; just be there the moment the customer grabs their wallet.

2) Create “thin ice” arguments. Shift the conversation to places where the competition can’t, or won’t go.

3) Fight unfairly. Learn how the underdog can turn the tables, pick unfair fights, and create awkward mismatches.

Talking with Ann Handley of American Express’ OPEN Forum, Denny discusses the newly released book and its thesis that being the little guy can be advantageous when taking on larger and established competitors. The most important interview question: What does it mean to kill a giant? In response, Denny answers, “In business, it isn’t the giants with their huge budgets and legions of employees who hold all the cards. It’s the upstarts that can pick the unfair fights, hijack the giant’s big marketing expenditures, and generally make life miserable for the larger competitors.” Simply, any brand or company can directly challenge the giant of its category or industry, and thrive. While it’s inconvenient to be the little guy, it can also be a blessing in disguise. Denny explains, “With the power of ideas and innovation, as well as our personal desire to tap into creativity, passion and discipline, anything is possible. In fact, one of the greatest drivers for success is the desire to do what other people think is impossible.”

This insight into toppling industry giants came from close studying and interviewing of 70 global leaders worldwide, who have carried their fair share of competitive angst. Among Denny’s contacts and inspiration for the novel were Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.com, Jim Cook of the Boston Beer Company, Eric Ryan of Method Home products, and others from across the globe. According to Denny, the novel’s 10 strategies are, “thinking tools, allowing others to reflect on these business leaders’ experiences and lessons learned.” Such a reflection has led Denny to the idea of, “changing the way you look at pricing (not just the price), and making it easier to say yes, particularly in these economic times,” as expressed in a recent blog post. Denny implores that retailers look at any financial and pricing difficulties they may be experiencing in an alternate way, by asking, “How can I sample myself to customers?”; “How many different ways can I give something of value away?”; “What ‘gift’ can I give away?”; and, “Is what I do, word of mouth worthy?” According to Denny, “The need to work smarter, with fewer resources, isn’t dependent on the state of the economy or on any sense of stability you have in your industry.” A quick read of Killing Giants could help small retailers become the Davids of their industry.

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