Killing Giants

“When a giant is forced to face off against an upstart brand, there is virtually no upside in winning—but the downside is severe. The upstart, however, has nothing but upside. This asymmetrical game of chicken is ideal for the underdog.”

– from Killing Giants

Everyone thought Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry were crazy to start Method, a new cleaning products company. The category had long been dominated by P&G, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive. Those giants had so much clout with the retail chains that their soaps had barely needed updating for decades.

But by taking advantage of its underdog position, Method carved out a very profitable niche: environmentally sound products in stylish, innovative packaging. Despite a far smaller marketing budget than their competitors, Method connected with a substantial minority of people who wanted to “buy green” but who also wanted high-quality products.

Marketer Stephen Denny argues that, like Method, any brand can directly challenge the giant of its category and not only survive, but thrive. While it’s inconvenient to be the little guy, it can also be a blessing in disguise. Giant-killers can afford to shake things up and take bold steps. They can be faster and nimbler than giants who are too slow and hidebound to make the painful but necessary changes to stay competitive. By the time they notice that slingshot, they’re already keeling over.

During his two decades in the trenches, Denny has taken on quite a few giants. And he has interviewed more than seventy other giant-killers across industries—from software to cosmetics to aviation—for their most powerful techniques.

Our need to work smarter, with fewer resources, isn’t dependent on the state of the economy or on any sense of stability you think you have in your industry. Denny’s ten powerful strategies will help you overcome stale business thinking and bureaucracy. They include:

Win in the last three feet. Leverage someone else’s investment—just be there the moment the customer grabs their wallet.

Create “thin ice” arguments. Shift the conversation to places where the competition can’t—or won’t—go.

Fight unfairly. Learn how the underdog can turn the tables, pick unfair fights and create awkward mis-matches.

From the hypercompetitive world of social media to high-stakes business-to-business sales to the trenches of retail, Killing Giants is The Art of War for a new era. It proves that size does matter—the size of the fight in the dog.

Advance Praise for Killing Giants:

“Learn why quick and dirty is better than shock and awe in this timely new book.”  {Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment and co-founder of Alltop}

“Denny cuts through the fat and gets into muscle. No models, no fluff, no disclaimer—just hard-hitting success stories and lessons learned. Denny reverse-engineers some true giant-slayings and leaves you with actionable insights. Read if you’re looking to do the impossible.” {Rick Darnaby, former CEO of Nutrasweet and GM of Motorola Europe}

“If you’re planning to run through the legs of goliath, meet your play book.  In your hands is a manifesto to run fast, fight dirty and change the game by flipping any Giant’s strengths against them.” {Eric Ryan, cofounder of Method}

“A mind-clearing book for start-up entrepreneurs, cash-strapped strategists, and other Davids armed only with their wits.” {Marty Neumeier, author of Zag}

“Chock-full of provocative marketing strategies, this book might just give you the stones to take out the Goliath in your industry.” {Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head and Creative Whack Pack}

“Size and scale are not the only formula for success. With examples from around the world, Denny outlines powerful strategies that you can use to overtake larger competitors in any business and marketplace.” {David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR and Real-Time Marketing & PR}

“Killing Giants is an essential manual for any company with a habit of fighting above its weight class. If you want to take on the big boys and win, this is required reading.” {Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid and The Think Big Manifesto}