When Competition is Fierce, Know How to Survive
- Posted on Mar 1, 2012 in CHI Insight
The book 1001 Arabian Nights tells the story of Scheherazade, a royal vizier’s daughter promised in marriage to the murderous Sultan Sharir, who has killed countless previous wives on suspicion that all women are faithless because he caught his first wife having an affair.
To prevent her own demise, Scheherazade begins telling the Sultan a story on the night of her marriage. But tantalizingly, she does not finish the story. The Sultan is so intrigued to hear the end of this tale that instead of having her killed the next morning, he lets her live to the next evening, whereupon Scheherazade finishes the first story and smoothly begins another, which she also does not complete. And so it goes for a 1001 nights until the Sultan relents, and lets her live.
Like it or not, sometimes survival - in life and in business - is a matter of staving off the most immediate danger you face. But if you keep your wits about you, there is always hope of emerging in good shape.
The long and short (story) of it
Even a short term strategy for marketing your business in an emergency or competitive situation should take a long term view toward results. If sales are down and your top salespeople are screaming for materials to help them reach new clients, the question still remains: What motivates your clients to buy?
That’s the brilliance of what Scheherazade was able to do to keep herself alive. She thought ahead and wisely understood that the Sultan’s anger was somehow tied to a narrative of some sort, most likely having to do with his personal pride. Scheherazade knew that if she interrupted that narrative with a story of her own she stood a chance for survival.
How to keep a relationship alive
The Sultan is like one of your best customers who grows angry over some slight in service or product quality. They may threaten to kill off your relationship if you don’t come up with a good reason to keep it going.
It pays to figure out why customers are mad, of course. The first step should be to solve the problem. But having something to offer beyond that can be a lifesaver. It might be a marketing program focused on their product, or a public relations or social media winback program. Anything that increases the story you’re telling about their product is a good place to start.
It’s your job to change the narrative from the problem that just occurred to what you can do about it. But even in a pinch, it always pays to look ahead. Just ask Scheherazade.
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