David v Goliath story an interesting foil for company/product propositions

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book – David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants  – reviewed here in the Guardian http://bit.ly/GzGEwj – is a fascinating read when you look at it from the perspective of how to position a business or product to sell more.

I guess we are all familiar with the story – the tiny David is sent into battle against the huge Goliath and then the seemingly impossible happens, David wins by felling the giant with a slingshot. But Gladwell points out that rather than being a miracle – the underdog making good – it was a foregone conclusion that David would win. The slingshot in the hands of David (one of the top exponents of his day) is like putting a sword up against a gun toting marksman.

But what has this got to do with propositions? One of the most telling phrases from the Guardian article shows that it’s vital to challenge accepted thinking . ‘But the true lesson here isn’t don’t be a Goliath, it’s don’t be a Philistine – the army that sent Goliath into battle for them. The simple moral is choose your weapons carefully.’

We do a lot of work for both Davids and Goliaths and at the heart of our message development sessions is the discipline of not behaving like a ‘Philistine’ by challenging accepted thinking. By approaching the task from the perspective of the buyer, when developing a proposition, it’s possible to behave like  a breakthrough business ie one that gives customers what they want rather than what the competition has trained them to expect.

By uncovering this core value – and making it explicit rather than implicit – any business can behave like David – and outthink the competition.

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