If you are a sports-car enthusiast, you probably know the story of Ferruccio Lamborghini. His company manufactured farm tractors. As he grew more successful, he invested in sports cars, and his pride and joy was a brand new Ferrari. After driving the car for a week, he wasn’t happy with the way the car shifted gears, and he took it back to the factory for tuning. The technicians looked at the car, made a few adjustments, and sent him home. After a few days he went back, complaining that the problem was not resolved to his satisfaction.
Lamborghini knew how to build a gearbox that ensured smooth performance. Ferrari workers disassembled the gearbox, put it back together, and told Lamborghini that the problem was fixed. After taking the car for a test drive, Lamborghini wasn’t happy, since nothing had changed. He went to see Enzo Ferrari, who told him, “Signore Lamborghini, we’ve looked at your car, we tested the gearbox, and we’ve done everything we could. We believe that the problem is not with the gearbox, the problem is with the driver.”
Lamborghini was furious and decided to build his own car. He created the legendary Lamborghini. Today, the company assembles 2,000 cars annually. Lamborghinis offer another dimension of style, and they are considered a worldwide symbol of extraordinary achievement.
The Lamborghini Murcielago starts at $354,000 and achieves a top speed of more than 200 MPH.
Lamborghini’s top model, the Reventón, sells for more than $1.4 million. Only 20 models are built in one year.
The Heart of the Story
The story of Lamborghini is the story of many entrepreneurs who are frustrated with the status quo. They want to find a better way to serve your customers. Every year there are 25 million entrepreneurs sitting around tables, sketching out business plans on cocktail napkins and trying to find ways to serve your customers better, with the goal to trump your business.
The story of Lamborghini is also a reminder of how to create a significant competitive advantage by applying four simple principles:
1. A Lamborghini looks more stylish. Style sells.
2. A Lamborghini engine has a distinct sound that gets people’s adrenaline pumping. Sounds sells.
Apple has conquered the music business by creating an adrenaline-pumping, stylish device – the iPod. Sony owned that market for years with portable audio players (Walkman, Discman, etc.). The iPod simply offered a much better emotional experience that Sony could not match.
Studies show that the “emotional tone” of a leader has a direct impact on productivity.
3. A Lamborghini is ultrafast. It’s been proven that a Lamborghini can outrun a fighter jet on takeoff. Speed sells.
Fast means survival, slow means extinction. The fast-food industry is making more money than traditional restaurants. An online store such as Amazon makes purchasing books, electronics, or food a lot faster and more convenient with a few mouse clicks. Everybody is short on time; we hate delays and waiting in line. Those who keep their customers waiting will lose business at a faster rate.
4. A Lamborghini is more powerful. Power sells.
When we buy computers, we want more power at our fingertips. When IT departments invest in software, they demand more powerful applications. When we market our products, we want more powerful messages and create more powerful connections online.
We need to protect our business against becoming obsolete and avoid being trumped by smart entrepreneurs who come up with new ways to better serve our customers. Smart marketers ask themselves four critical questions to enhance their competitive advantage:
- Is our product more stylish than the competition?
- Does our product/service/message get our customer’s adrenaline pumping?
- Is our product/service faster and more convenient compared to the competition?
- Does our product deliver more power to the customer?
For those of you who want to experience the thrill of spending a day in a Lamborghini, the Lamborghini Club of America offers the Ultimate Lamborghini Experience in Fontana, CA, at the California Speedway. I have never been there, and I am tempted to sign up for the June 4, 2010, event.
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