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Book Review: Killing Giants

Author Stephen Denny shares 10 strategies to topple the Goliath in your industry.
Killing Giants, Stephen Denny; Portfolio

Anthony Verde

The book: Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry, by Stephen Denny; Portfolio.

The big idea: Dominant, deep-pocketed companies are often so myopic they don't notice the upstarts sprinting between their feet. Identify competitors' vulnerabilities and exploit the hell out of them.

The global Davids: Some of the best stories in the book describe triumphs by small, foreign companies that understand their own turf. For example, during apartheid, South African cosmetics maker Black Like Me produced marketing that recognized the misery of township life. Search engine Baidu plays to its customers' sense of identity by reminding them it's stronger than Google in Chinese.

If you read nothing else: Although Killing Giants is divided into chapters based on strategies, readers can simply graze case studies. Among the best: Adobe piggybacking on a Microsoft Black Friday promotion; JetBlue's $599 All-You-Can-Jet campaign; and Classe's program for encouraging retail salespeople to buy its high-end audio products for their homes.

Rigor rating: 7 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). Denny interviewed a few primary players at each of his 32 Davids, but he does not delve into the Giants' side. So, for example, he chalks up Scott Brown's Massachusetts Senate victory to savvy use of social media and technology, virtually ignoring his opponent's notoriously complacent and gaffe-riddled campaign.

From the April 2011 issue of Inc. magazine

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.

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