Three Disruptive Strategies that Drive Your Competition Crazy

Three Disruptive Strategies that Drive Your Competition Crazy


As an executive, you’re tasked with staying ahead of the competition, creating meaningful value for your customers, translating that into shareholder value, and managing risks. To do this in our fast-moving world, it means you must embrace disruption. You must disrupt, or die.

Information Age recently published an article predicting that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies won’t survive the next decade. I think they’re being optimistic, with the number closer to 60 percent. If the big guns with all of the money, marketing power, and moxey can’t do it, how can you do it?

Two words: intentional disruption.

If you don’t disrupt your business, your markets, your culture, and your competition, you cannot survive. Just ask Blockbuster, Borders, and Sears, great brands that couldn’t withstand NetFlix,, and Target.

Consider these three strategies to disrupt your market and stay alive.

Embrace Disruption

Don’t resist the inevitable, but embrace it. Nothing will ever be the same on any given day other than the sun will rise and set, death, and taxes (and those are negotiable). It means you’ll be disrupting your products, services, marketing methods, sales strategies, customer service tactics, infrastructure, finance, and culture.

Your team will resist: they don’t like unwelcome change. One third won’t likely make it, and in some organizations the turnover will be 100 percent. Decide that their resistance won’t take down the company, because it will if you let it. Just consider the recent big business failures who tried to resist the disruption of technology, culture, and politics.

If you’re resisting learning new technology, like how to make a podcast, not upgrading to gigabit fibre connections in your home, or getting the latest iPhone, you might not make it. I recently had a conversation with a guy that didn’t know how to send a text message from his phone: I was shocked. Embrace disruption and actively look for it. Buy disruptive products and services. (I’ve stopped renting cars when I travel, opting for Uber and Lyft, even when they are more expensive because of the time I save. And these services have become my second car at home.)

While your competitors will be foolishly prudent (what does prudent mean when a company can go from their best year to out of business in 24 months) and slow to embrace change, you’ll drive them crazy.

Disrupt Intentionally

Random disruption isn’t going to do this. We’re not talking about vandalizing your business, but vandalizing your market. Your approach must be intentional, thoughtful, and programmatic.

Cannibalize Your Cash Cows

HP famously disrupts their own business, creating products that cannibalize their cash cows before the competition can. They own the computer printer business with many well-funded companies in their wake. Disruption is a critical part of their go-to-market success.

Predict Your Future

Think into the future about where technology is going and how you can position yourself to take advantage of the unstoppable trends. Reed Hastings did this with NetFlix, predicting when there would be sufficient broadband coverage to stream movies to your house. Now they disrupt Hollywood, their film production budget exceeds their corporate valuation three years ago. Watch TED talks on the future. You might find this keynote speech I did on the future of your business insightful.

The Wall Test

Jonathan David Lewis in his excellent book Brand vs Wild recommends the Wall Test. Gather every piece of competitive marketing material you can get your hands on and cover a wall with it. If you place your materials on the wall and they disappear, you’ve failed the Wall Test. You’ll rapidly see the industry conventions and cliches ripe for disruption. Make the Wall Test an on-going part of your competitive analysis.

Do any of these three tactics and you’ll drive your competition crazy.

Make Disruption Cultural

Make being disruptive safe and cool in your organization. Sure, people will make mistakes and so what. Most disruptive discoveries came from a happy mistake.

Have contests to reward and recognize the ideas and behaviors that take business away from your competition.

If this scares you a little — or alot, that’s a good thing. As an executive, you should be running full speed ahead with disruption on your mind, because there is a small startup that has your market — and you — in their crosshairs. They’ll work harder, for less money, and with a less restricted mindset than you and your team.

Will your team skate close to thin ice? No doubt. Will you piss off a customer? Sure. Will you drive your competition crazy? That’s the plan. Your ability to lead during continuously turbulent times creates real meaning and value for your team, your customers, your shareholders, and yourself.

You might like the, the weekly podcast for professionals whose job depends on disruptive sales and marketing.

Let’s have a conversation about growing your business through strategic planning, marketing plans, executive coaching, and customer acquisition systems. Find a mutually agreeable time at or contact me.

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