By Terry L. Brock
The conflict quickly ended. It was the conflict raved about for a few years in the computer and business press. Over and over we heard that it was like “Beta vs. VHS all over again.” We heard that so many times that it become nauseating.
The end came the other day. When Wal-Mart made the decision to back Blu-ray over the HD DVD format, the final shot was heard in the battle. It was the battle of Yorktown for Blu-Ray (American forces) and HD DVD (the losing Brits). Now it is all over except for the dancing and shouting.
What lessons can you and I learn from this? What important considerations can we take from this event and apply to our own small business?
1. It Is Not About The Technology. It Is Always About The Relationships. Both formats had good technology. It was the key relationships which Sony nurtured and cultivated that ultimately won the day. Yes, technology was a factor. However, the big decisions in business are made by people who make decisions for emotional reasons. Sorry about that, my die-hard techie friends. It ain’t about the technology. (I know, bad English but true). It always has been and always will be about relationships. Cultivate these and you build Relationship Marketing (R-Commerce).
2. Achieve Key Wins Which Stack Up To An Insurmountable Victory. Sony didn’t win only one battle in the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD fight. They won several over a period of time. You can’t win the ultimate prize with only one knockout blow (sorry, Hollywood -- it just doesn’t work that way in the real world). Don’t rest on your past victories. Each day, you face anew the opportunities to engage in competition and learn and grow no matter what happens. Become a better person with each day’s results.
3. Lower Prices Don’t Win The Day. HD DVD dropped prices recently in a last-ditch effort to win market share. Too often salespeople try to win business by just dropping their price. Don’t get me wrong; price is always a factor. However, it is never the primary factor. Relationships matter more. People will pay a little more (not excessive) to do business with a firm and people they know and trust. Building that trust is key to gaining business.
4. Supporting Technologies And Tie-Ins. PS3 is a strong player for Sony. It is unlikely that parents would buy more than one game machine for their kids. Therefore, it is imperative that Sony come to the market with some dazzling technologies to retain market share. PS3’s position didn’t hurt Sony in their Blu-ray combination. In your business, don’t have only one approach but have multiple tie-ins that “bundle” products. Phone companies do this with cellular, television, Internet access and more benefits. Think about add-on products and ways to tie customers to you in multiple formats.
5. Never Give In. There were numerous times when Sony might have thrown up their hands and quit. Hey, they were up against the behemoth of Microsoft. Remember just a few years ago when so many were railing against Microsoft as the devil incarnate? Couple Microsoft with the not-insignificant Toshiba and you have a powerful force. However, Sony remained undaunted. You are going to be slapped down from time to time. It is going to hurt. In the midst of that marketplace slapping you around, realize it is normal. No, they are not out to “get you.” Frankly, “they” don’t care. However, if you have that internal resolution and fortitude (read, guts!) to keep going in spit of the inevitable hardships and setbacks, you will succeed.
Winston Churchill made a famous speech, often misconstrued, to the boys at Harrow, his old school. It was on 29 October 1941. In that speech he told those boys to “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming fight of the enemy. Don’t not let us speak of darker days; let us rather speak of sterner days.”
In your own business and sales, you will encounter those times you want to give in. When those thoughts come, imagine Winston Churchill standing there (in a good, thick British accent) admonishing you to “never give in.” Somehow I think the people at Sony might have had that thought with Sir Howard Stringer at the helm as their CEO.
Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2008, Terry Brock, Achievement Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.