George Stalk, Jr., and several others via Harvard Business Review are offering Hardball Strategies, 2nd Edition - a collection of articles based upon George Stalk's and Rob Lachenaur's original Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win. This is an example of a "curveball" strategy from George:
U.S. cleaning-chemical company Ecolab knew that small, independent customers--though willing to payhigher prices--were costlier to serve, and thus not profitable in the long term. But rival Diversey yearned for the healthy sales revenue promised by such customers. To help Diversey "win" these customers. Ecolab priced its bids to small independents high enough to lose to Diversey but low enough to keep downward pressure on Diversey's net margin. Meanwhile, Ecolab priced aggressively to win big chain accounts--cheap to serve and thus profitable. Diversey lost 15% on U.S. sales, while Ecolab enjoyed a 20% return.
This is a great case study. The collection of articles are $16 bucks and change but well worth it. Every CMO interested in competitive marketing should read this collection. We've blogged at length about George and Hardball - you can read our collection of posts here. And don't forget to read the Blue Ocean collection. Hardball and Blue Ocean are bookends.
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