Compete Smarter, Not Harder: Fundamental Strategies

Compete Smarter Not Harder book coverGiven the lightning-fast pace of change in today's business world, companies need to be more agile than ever to seize new opportunities and react to evolving consumer demands. In his new book, Compete Smarter, Not Harder: A Process for Developing the Right Priorities Through Strategic Thinking, Dr. William Putsis lays out a step-by-step process of strategic prioritization so that companies can find the right space to compete effectively and lead market changes.

Putsis has been a marketing professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School since July 2001. He also teaches at MBA@UNC, the innovative online MBA program offered through UNC Kenan-Flagler. In Compete Smarter, Not Harder, Putsis shares real-world examples of the unprecedented change businesses are seeing across many different areas and industries. For instance, just a few years ago, RIM (now Blackberry) had a larger share of the smartphone market than Apple and Samsung combined. But according to a Time magazine article from earlier this year, its market share is now less than 5 percent.

Putsis also points to changes in real estate commissions. Since the 1940s, residential real estate commissions stood at 6 percent even though 3.5 percent is a more typical commission elsewhere in the world. Real estate agents could maintain the status quo because they had exclusive ownership of the multiple listing services (MLS), which contains property-listing information. But when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the case settled in 2008, NAR agreed to give Internet brokerages access to the same listings that traditional brokerages have access to.

This change opened the door to new real estate models like To incentivize potential buyers to use a Redfin agent, the Web site splits the buyer's agent commission with the buyer. It also tasks each agent with only one task (showing the property or making an offer, for instance) to create more efficiency and encourage specialization. Redfin agents are salaried but receive a bonus based on client satisfaction. As Putsis writes in his book, "Decades of sustained 6 percent real estate commission structure is now being eroded because the key strategic control point has been opened up — this has spawned a new business model that is fundamentally changing the residential real estate business."

The ubiquity of mobile technology gives us access to information everywhere we go, and thanks to constant connectivity, we can access this information at any time, presenting new challenges and opportunities for businesses. "Today’s market is truly different — perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence and shape your companies future," Putsis writes. "Companies that succeed will focus on two specific principles to become market leaders of tomorrow: strategic control points and vertical incentive alignment." Using the carrot and stick analogy, strategic control points are like the stick and vertical incentive alignment is like the carrot. We'll dive deeper into these concepts and Putsis' book in two forthcoming blog posts. William Putsis focuses on the empirical application of game theoretic models of competition, competitive strategy, the marketing of private-label products, new product diffusion and product line strategy, international marketing, advertising and communications research, and sports marketing. His numerous scholarly articles have been published in top journals, and he serves on the editorial board of Marketing Science, Journal of Marketing, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Review of Marketing Science and International Journal of Marketing Education. He served as a regular contributor and contributing editor to the Eastern European business journal, Business Tech International. He has taught in executive non-degree programs for The Boeing Company, Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN AMRO, Amcor, British Airways, Baker Hughes International, the U.S. Navy, Matsushita, KONE and ExxonMobil.