The Guardian reminded me today that the more you obsess about what you fear the less you are able to respond effectively. I picked up that lesson while reading the paper’s latest FUD about Amazon.
Jeff Bezos v the world: why all companies fear ‘death by Amazon’
he computer on which this article was written is sitting on a laptop stand that tells you everything you need to know about how Amazon does business. At $19.99 (£14.99) a pop, the laptop stand combines everything customers love about Amazon: utility, price and convenience. It’s also a total and complete knockoff – of a laptop stand that the San Francisco-based company Rain Design began selling nearly a decade before Amazon decided to make its own.
Amazon’s innovation with its own version was to replace Rain Design’s raindrop logo with its own smiley arrow logo – and cut the price in half.
“All Amazon had to do was pick the best one and copy it,” said Rachel Greer, a former product manager for Amazon who runs a consulting firm for Amazon vendors.
If you go see the piece you will see it checks off all the bullet points for a hit piece: It discusses Amazon’s business practices, but leaves out the point that 95% are SOP for many industries; it cites Amazon detractors who you can trust to put the worst spin on Amazon, no matter the topic; and it uses emotional language to build up the story out of nothing.
And voila, the Guardian is spreading FUD about Amazon, reinforcing the fear of Amazon.
Just like Amazon would have wanted.
Tell me, are you familiar with the phrase “psyching out your opponent”?
The term is used in competitive arenas like sports and gaming to refer to the practice of using various tricks to get your competitors to defeat themselves.
One way to do that is to keep them distracted, preventing them from giving the game their whole attention. Fear, for example, was how many of Bobby Fischer’s opponents defeated themselves.
Faced with Fischer’s extraordinary coolness, his opponents [sic] assurance would begin to disintegrate. A Fischer move, which at first glances looked weak, would be reassessed. It must have a deep master plan behind it, undetectable by mere mortals (more often than not they were right, it did). The US grandmaster Robert Byrne labeled the phenomenon “Fischer-fear”. Grandmasters would wilt, their suits would crumple, sweat would glisten on their brows, panic would overwhelm their nervous systems. Errors would creep in. Calculations would go awry. There was talk among grandmasters that Fischer hypnotized his opponents, that he undermined their intellectual powers with a dark, mystic, insidious force.
The thing about the Guardian’s piece is that they are playing right into Amazon’s hands. By reinforcing the fear of Amazon the Guardian is making it easier for the retailer to beat its competition.
While I am sure Amazon hates most of the FUD written about it, this attempt to hurt Amazon backfired, and could not have helped Amazon more.