Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Tipping Point, recently wrote a terrific article in the New Yorker about Davids and Goliaths. He referenced historical conflicts that demonstrated that when David fights Goliath on Goliath’s terms (i.e. conventional battle), he wins 28% of the time. However, when he fights on his own terms, he wins an astounding 64% of the time.
This gave me a moment of pause. Not because of the radical percentage swing, but because how many of us out there, when you think of our talent, skills, company influence, experience, etc. can really call ourselves Goliaths? I would have to say that the majority of us out there are just plain old Davids. And if we’re David, then everyone else out there, to us, is Goliath.
So, what are we doing differently to succeed against the Goliaths of the world? Gladwell references a girls basketball team that used a full-court press to overcome the fact that they were smaller and less skilled than their opponents. But really, you can use this methodology in any aspect of your life.
For example, next time you’re applying for a job (which many are today) and you know that you’ll be competing against people with more experience and deeper skill sets, what will you do differently? If you go by Gladwell’s stats, if you play by conventional rules, you stand a one in four chance of getting that job. But if you change your tactics to focus on your strengths, you can change the playing field.
This philosophy, in essence, is how we look at advertising. Often, our clients do not have the same budgets, reputations or brands as their competitors, so we have to change the game in order to increase our odds of winning. This can take the form of an innovative media placement or use of media, unusual messaging, and a host of other areas. It’s all about cutting through the clutter and getting noticed.
In fact, this is a great way to look at anything in life where you feel you’re at a disadvantage. If you go up against the Goliaths straight up, you’ll probably lose. But if you change the game, you can accomplish anything.