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INTERVIEW:

In much the same fashion as "The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun," "Battling The Corporate Giants: The Ultimate David and Goliath Story" takes an ancient tale and applies it to today's business world. Author and entrepreneur, Daniel L. Lowery discusses the strategies David-a mere inexperienced shepherd boy-used to defeat Goliath--a giant, well-armed, veteran warrior.

Q. Why did you choose the David and Goliath story as a model for your book?

A. My original idea was to use several underdogs throughout history and show how they overcame the odds, but an editor felt all the jumping around in different times was too confusing for readers. So, I decided to focus on just one underdog. The David and Goliath story works best, because although it is very well known, most of us have never analyzed it. When you look at the story more deeply you find very solid grounds for David's victory.

Q. Could you give an example of why David defeated Goliath?

A. Sure. David's use of the sling is probably the foremost example. By using a different weapon, he ruined his opponent's whole game plan. Goliath's great bulk, armor, skill and experience all favored the hand-to-hand combat style of a duelist. David's sling avoided a close-quarter contest and made the fight a long distance battle. In a similar fashion, small businesses should find different products and services to negate the advantages of big corporations. So, if a big corporation lowers it prices don't try to match them-change your product instead.

Q. Your book focuses a lot on underdog strategies. What are these and how can small businesses use them?

A. These are principals that those with fewer resources (i.e. underdogs) should use when competing against a more powerful adversary. The premise of "Batting The Corporate Giants" is whenever a superior force meets an inferior one, you can count on certain strategies being employed such as fighting a battle of attrition, building superstructures and monopolizing resources to name just a few. Instead of trying to match their opponent, small businesses should go to the least expected areas, use different weapons or find an Achilles' Heel. Making the correct response is crucial for underdog's success.

Q. What is the most common mistake small businesses make when competing against large corporations?

A. Small businesses will often fight a battle of attrition with huge corporations. Engaging in a price war is a good example of this. When the larger entity cuts its prices the smaller business feels compelled to lower theirs. This plays into the corporation's strengths. With their superior resources, they will eventually win any attritional battles. What the small business should do is sell different products, bundle existing merchandise with other items and diversify their price structure. This avoids the attritional battle and lets the small business compete on terms more favorable to them.

Q. You mentioned playing into the corporation's strengths. In one of your chapters, you tell entrepreneurs to turn corporations strengths into weakness. How do they do this?

A. Well, brand recognition is one type of corporation strength. It's tough to compete when consumers automatically identify a product by its brand name. For instance, many people say "Coke" when they want a cola. To challenge them what Pepsi did was focus on new customers that hadn't yet made this identification. Pepsi portrayed Coke as old-fashioned to them. When Coke responded by coming out with a newer, trendier version of its product, they upset their existing customers. Rather than lose their established clientele, Coke abandoned its efforts to appear youthful. Pepsi thereby has turned its competitor's strength into a weakness.

Q. What are the chances entrepreneurs will succeed if they follow the advice in your book?

A. Well, there is no guarantee in anything, of course. And, because small businesses will be competing with fewer resources their chance of success is inherently more difficult. However, what I can guarantee is if entrepreneurs follow the principals in "Battling The Corporate Giants" they will compete more effectively against their corporate rivals. At the very least it will prevent them from pursuing a faulty strategy.

Q. Can you give us a brief summary of some of the best ways to compete against giant corporations?

A. Of course. We already discussed using different weapons and turning strength into weakness. Another one is taking the path of least resistance--simply put you go to areas that the corporations haven't developed. Calling the shots is another. This strategy calls for you to stay on the offensive until you win. If you can keep your opponent on the defensive victory will eventually be assured. Some of the others are creating a diversion, finding an Achilles' Heel, taking advantage of a lull, gathering intelligence and surprise. All of these allow a small business fight on terms that are more favorable to them. And that is what entrepreneurs should be angling at all of the time.

 

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