As ol’ Bocephus asks… “Are you ready for some football?” ‘Tis the season to strap on the pads, play some smash-mouth, run the ball for three yards and a cloud of dust, and all the other testosterone-laden comments that define the Boys of Fall.
Much like playing football, as a business we have to be good at both offense and defense. Businesses need an extensive “playbook” to grow, to be aggressive, and to capture market share. In football, this is called driving the ball toward the end zone. Or as the legendary coach Hank Stramm would have more eloquently stated, “Matriculate the ball down the field.” Offense is important. In business, it basically shows up in two ways: (1) make sure that your current customers’ share of wallet is predominantly yours; and (2) make sure that you gain new customers.
Businesses are considered to have a great offense by being innovative and creative. Coming up with new and better ways to bring added value to the market will help to ensure a smooth and consistent “matriculation” to success. When a business draws up new plays, puts new twists on old plays, and executes better on the core operations, success will occur. A business will always have a better chance on offense when a new twist emerges that compliments the ol’ “bread & butter.” Think Bud Light and Budweiser. Bud Light became the “young, less caloric, more chic to the lifestyle of many” beer of choice. Budweiser, well…it was the “King of Beers” – traditional and stoic.
Sometimes a business needs to protect their market share from the encroachment of other businesses by building defenses around what is considered theirs. Again, being innovative is the best solution. If a business already owns market share, how do they hold it?
Maintain the reputation and protect the brand are two big things that come to mind. Know what you’re good at and stay good at it. If a business is the low price leader, bosses should work their tails off finding new efficiencies that allow for an even lower price. If one has the very best service, then one should aspire to have “service on steroids.” Vigorously defend the position of strength.
Don’t hedge on what has made the company successful. If it’s a premium beer like Budweiser, for instance, don’t cut the quality of the ingredients that makes the beer the best just because the “new guy” has a different tasting, better- priced brew. No, go the other way – become even more premium. Stay true to the “girl you brung.”
The King of Beers was ultimately dethroned by Bud Light (let’s see…that meant the offense paid off, but the defense may have suffered). Not really, the King continued to bring value to those who bought it. Messing with the formula to save a few cents per beer would surely have backfired. Businesses ultimately end up losing their differentiation and their position of dominance when they make trivial changes.
Think about “new Coke.” They violated the basic rule of defense. Defending traditional Coke would have been smarter, and being on the offense with a new product would have been a better path.
See, both a good offense and a solid defense win big in football and business.