Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Unforced Errors – One Year Later

Exactly one year ago I wrote about the epic Australian Open Men’s Singles final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.  This past Sunday Djokovic repeated as champion.  Congratulations Novak!  Consequently I thought this would be a good time to revisit Unforced Errors.

Read On:
Last year I shared my observations about the new era of power tennis.  A majority of the top tier players now generate statistics where they produce a negative ratio; more unforced errors to winners.  Sunday was no exception.  I am not going to bore you with the final numbers, but both players had a negative ratio further illustrating their great defensive capabilities.  However, that was the spine of last year’s post – defense might work in tennis, but not in business.  In business you need to play for winners versus waiting around for the competition to make mistakes.

The winner of the 2012 Mobile Marketer Award, Starbucks (note: their second time in three years), is an example of a company that is not following in the steps of its competitors by playing defense.  Instead they are constructing winning shot after winning shot when executing their mobile movement.  Their strategy is to take advantage of multiple channels/platforms to create an ongoing relationship with their customers starting with SMS to drive their successful My Starbucks Rewards Program.  They utilized strategically placed QR codes (linked to mobile optimized sites) to promote their different blends; most recently their Blonde roast.  Their biggest shots have been their mobile payments and loyalty applications which were first introduced back in 2010 now making them one of the major players in mobile commerce.  Starbucks even experimented with augmented reality in 2012 to bring their holiday cups to life.  To round out their mobile marketing game, Starbucks has invested in mobile advertising and apps.  Sounds like more winners to unforced errors to me for a winning, positive ratio.

Are you training to be a winner?


  1. Actually, I believe that you win thru a combination of exceptional play, combined with the ability to capitalize on your competitor's mistakes (unforced errors). Companies simply cannot rely on only one of these. Even Starbucks (your example) nearly collapsed five years ago when their efforts to copy the addition of food, new equipment, and music sales caused them to take their eye off the primary element of the match: their service philosophy and their coffee. Quickly realizing it, they went back to basic blocking and tackling exercises, and fixed their poor play.

    Great analogy, Jimmy. THX for sharing.

  2. I like this. For me, it is in parity with the conceptual difference between "reactive market-driven" companies, and "agile market-driving" companies. Starbucks is the latter. Most other companies feel "comfortable" being market-driven, which is at best, reacting to competitive trends that have already moved.