Market leaders are extremists

No lack of ambitions
When you read the annual reports or websites of companies, you will notice that there is no lack of ambitions. Just see how often you come across the following phrase: “Company X has a leading position…”, “Company Y is the market leader in….”.

There are, of course, more companies with the ambition to be a market leader than there are actually market leaders. After all, it is easier to declare yourself the market leader than to actually be it. But responsive organizations grow from within, with self-awareness and confidence. It is good to have a solid ambition, but with that comes the question of what the ambition of your organization means in practice.

The game and the rules
Long ago, after I had ended a relationship, a good friend gave me a book as an uplifting gesture: ‘If love is a game, these are the rules’. The writer, Chérie Carter-Scott, approached the subject like a game. Assuming that understanding and applying the rules of the game will increase your chances of lasting success in love and relationships. In the context of entrepreneurship, this is an interesting perspective: if ‘market leadership’ is the game, what are the rules? And are you willing to do what it takes to realize your ambitions?

Mercilessly hard
Companies that are leading in their market (segment) come in many shapes and sizes. A great diversity is possible in the way in which market leadership is shaped – in terms of market share, quality, turnover, cost leadership, service or innovation. In that respect, the first rule is that market leaders find and go their own way. Heading for their own, unique, vision of the products and services they provide. That is the starting point for exceptional results that ultimately lead to market leadership. But this requires a quality that is just as important: the ability to do it. That means sticking mercilessly to that vision and the principles of quality. To the extreme.

Extremists
In our earlier blog ‘The blessings of micromanagement’ we already discussed that extreme attention to detail leads to extreme quality. You could say that market leaders are extremists. In the good sense of the word.

For example, Djops is an employment agency with its own vision on quality: the company wants to be the best and strives that customers and temporary workers experience this every time. That is why, for example, every temporary worker is personally brought to the customer by a Djops employee at the start of an assignment. To ensure that everything is in order for a good execution of the work. Employees are therefore endlessly pointed out how important it is to always fulfill the quality promise (‘starting inside means winning outside’ is the motto). That extra attention takes a lot of effort and energy. Every day. But it leads to distinctive quality that is experienced. As one client put it: “Temporary workers often complain about their employment agency, but never about Djops”.

Steve Jobs is known to have had an extreme vision vision on design: the inside of a PC must also be visually well designed and neatly arranged. Does it matter? Yes, because “mercilessly” following this rule contributes to the best possible user experience; even when you have to open your PC once, the product looks great. Which is fully aligned with the vision and mission of the company: to realize the best user experience, by providing the best service and fantastic products.

Jumbo Supermarkets goes very far when it comes to customer service: at the start of the supermarket chain, they investigated the main reasons for dissatisfaction among supermarket customers. It turned out there were seven. Waiting times at the checkout, for example. Or a large assortment, but just not the one brand that you like. Jumbo turned these ‘dissatisfiers’ around and turned them into seven ‘customer certainties’. Some of these are extreme from a traditional retailer’s point of view. If one customer wants a product of a specific brand that is not sold, it will be bought specifically for that person. And are you number four in line at the cash register when not all cash registers are open? Then you get your groceries for free! Jumbo’s extreme behavior when it comes to service and exceeding customer expectations has contributed to the supermarket fast growth for years.

New Year’s resolutions
It takes a lot of effort to realize extreme ambitions – whether you are an employment agency, a computer manufacturer or supermarket. But it always delivers distinctiveness that pays off in market position and growth.

This requires more than that unique vision or that far-reaching idea: the discipline and the ability to actually do it.

In other words, the most important rules of the game ‘Market leadership’ are comparable to the annual good intentions: you should not only have them, but above all: follow through. Every day.

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