By Tom Dougherty
With all of the upsets in the world economy, we at Stealing Share are contemplating why a brand development firm like ourselves has been busier than ever before despite the recent financial crisis. Anyone with a drop of superstition would certainly add the caveat “but don’t marvel too long. Count your blessings and keep your mouth shut.”
Stealing Share, however, is a brand strategy development company that seeks to understand human behavior and to find ways to utilize that behavior so it benefits the market share for our clients. Therefore, let’s look at this phenomenon quite critically and carefully.
Slaying Sacred Cows
Under the microscope of analysis, there is something our current clients share. They are all in the throes of internal change. These are not external forces, but self-directed ones. They came knocking because they have new leadership at the top or a top-down realization that change is not their mortal enemy but is in fact their best friend.
They are universally changing internal processes so they can compete in their crowded markets more effectively or they have taken a fresh look at the way they had always done business. In short, they all had strong leadership and a vision for success. To quote one CEO, “We are all out to slay the sacred cows.”
One of the hallmarks to great leadership has always been great timing. Leaders seem to possess it in great bucketful. These companies share that. They see opportunity and advantage when others see fear and contraction. They push for change when others are holding tenaciously to the status quo. They seek to grow market share when others are defensively looking to hold onto a slice of the fast disappearing pie. What is surprising to us is that the membership in this august group seems to be swelling — all over the globe.
The Financial Crisis. Survival of the Fittest
This brings to mind a bit of Darwinism: Survival of the fittest when considering the financial crises. It seems to us the fit are better able to survive because they are best able to adapt. When others hit the breaks they accelerate. When others count pennies, they invest. When the din of marketing noise grows a bit quieter because of cuts in advertising budgets — they speak with greater clarity and force.
As a company, Stealing Share is quite lucky with this. Success comes easier to those whose only sacred cow is named “success.” They are willing to exchange the old paradigm of corporate identity and Harvard business school models of brand development for one that trumpets action and not mired in trite theory.
World Economy. Success in Growing Share
Our success in growing market share owes a great deal to these leaders – pioneers, really. They are visionary men and women who seek truthful answers to questions of persuasion and preference and are willing to look past the Interbrands and Landors of the world and seek out a rebellious group of straight talking professionals who are willing to challenge established models and recognize that, if brand is to succeed in changing the behavior of prospects, it must also change the established corporate culture that so desperately seeks it.
Our new business meetings differ from most. Certainly the tenor is often more collegial because most of our business comes from referral. It allows for a more relaxed atmosphere. But more importantly, our meetings are filled with straight talk and honesty. Even when it comes to the financial crisis.
We never pretend to know the answers, only the questions that help illuminate the answers. We don’t swoon over prospects like we are courting their beautiful daughter. Quite to the contrary. We often tell prospective clients that their daughter is quite homely. Thus begins the straight talk. Candor, as we have learned, saves everyone a lot of time. It also teaches us that to win you have to speed up in the corners, not slow down.