Market Leader Has the Ball in Your Court

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Only the market leader should consider playing defense. This might seem straightforward, but it’s not.

We’ve never met a company that didn’t consider itself a leader. But most companies base their leadership positions more on creative definitions than on market realities. Your company may be the leader “east of the Mississippi on Monday morning, ” but the customer doesn’t care.

Companies don’t create leaders-customer do. It’s who the customer perceives as the leader that defines a true category leader.

Furthermore, we’re talking about the leader, not a leader. There are many leaders in the computer industry, but only one IBM, the true leader in the mind of computer customer and prospects.

Then there are the pretenders to the throne. Some business people actually believe you can “will” your way to the top. They believe in the power of positive thinking. First, you have to convince yourself you’re the leader before you can go out and convince others.

Torpedo the thought. Pretender ship has no place in the development of a marketing strategy. It’s one thing to engage in hyperbole for the benefit of the sales force. It’s another thing to delude yourself into making a strategic error. A good marketing general must have a clear picture of the actual situation so that he or she can lead from truth. Fool the enemy, never fool yourself.

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