You have to love a book that does not beat around the bush. In an age of ever-escalating time management anxiety, sometimes you need a brief reminder of your business values and ethos. To learn about some business processes, a longer text is needed. But for quick refreshers, you need a snack-size book that reminds you of key values (go ahead and picture those recent Snickers commercials with Betty White, Abe Vigoda, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli).
Marketing strategy consultant Jeffery Fox offers a Snickers-level business reminder: a guide to competition and business success called How to Be a Fierce Competitor: What Winning Companies and Great Managers Do In Tough Times. Fox has written a few short books like this before, notably How to Become CEO and How to Become a Rainmaker. He gets straight to the point, and many of his zingers can be helpful to small business owners on the go and under, well, fierce competition. I bought a copy after I started flipping through a few of the pages in a bookstore; I have read How to Become CEO and wanted to see what new comments he had to share.
Tips to help you be the best competitor
The book does not give rambled musings about what you should do in business. Instead, the pages are an amalgamation of ideas, told crisply and distinctively. Check out these few comments:
“Leaders respond and act. They may be wrong, but they don’t dither, dawdle, delay….Data deep dives are good, necessary, professional, but when you come up for air, that’s it. Decide.”
“In tough times the tough don’t start selling, they ratchet up their selling. Fierce competitors put more people out in the field selling. They make it possible for salespeople to make more money, not less. They invest scarce dollars to visit and meet more customers. They don’t ‘save’ money by quarantining their salespeople, by cutting advertising, by reducing customer service reps.”
“There are endless ways to let customers know you care. Leave weekend voicemails, bring homemade cookies, make charitable donations in their names, let them be the first to know company big news before they read it in the paper.”
An interesting personal favorite is the tip “Stay Off Magazine Covers.” Here’s why:
“Profiles give competitors clues as to strategy, spending, capital budgets, and upcoming products….This information is fodder for analysts on the teams fighting to get your customers, your meal tickets, and your lunch.”
A fierce complement to many strategy books
The advice in Fierce Competitor is very straightforward-no-chaser, like Rework, but the book’s pocket-sized journal structure is meant for general reminders that can add extra perspective to the reasoning behind more detailed works.
Some authors, like Stanley Bing, make the most of the journal structure with a witty tone that permeates from title to text. Fox has his own style that accentuates each raised point, with many of the comments focused on eliminating waste to manage growth and to operate for the best interests of your business. In one instance he provides tips for eliminating a seemingly strategic client that in reality overwhelms your back-end processes. He suggests you examine the cost to support that “strategic” client, then:
“Give your competitors a present. Let them have the strategic account. Let the strategic account drain their resources while you redeploy to profitable current and future customers.”
For insight that feeds your mind, these thoughts are great, but keep the Snickers analogy in mind. Still, like the candy, this book will satisfy. Fox leaves out bloated jargon, not good business sense.
Now, reading only one book does not make you a vital competitor. You still need to dig into specific details, which is where this book helps most. How to Be a Fierce Competitor can complement sales strategy, such as How to Sell When No One Is Buying and Competitive Selling. General-topic entrepreneurship books such as Kaching and Tipping The Odds for the Entrepreneur also work well as complements to this book. Finally, it also can make behavioral topics like that covered in Clutch come alive.
Enjoy How to Be a Fierce Competitor and be entertained as well as reminded of your business sensibilities.