The world thought it was over when Garry Kasparov unseats Anatoly Karpov, the defending World Chess Champion, in 1985. The chess rivalry that originally began in 1984 with an inconclusive verdict continued till 1990.
However, the World Chess Championship 1990 signified the fifth and final Kasparov–Karpov championship match and saw Kasparov win by a single point.
During this final bowl, the genius of Garry Kasparov swept the world by the feet and lashed out his pressing contender with a devastating blow. In the 24 rounds long match, the 20th round became the limelight of the event with Kasparov dominating the match by forcing moves right from his 12th move.
Later after the tournament, Garry Kasparov, in his interview, analysed 8 deadly precise and insane calculations of position and how he planned to beat his opponent in the round taking into account all of Karpov’s best moves in each case.
In all the iterations, he saw himself emerging as the winner of the round either with a checkmate or being up in pieces for the end-game, which will ultimately lead to his win.
This was a rare feat during his time and remains an iconic moment in the history of chess.
The Game of Chess & Forcing Moves
“Too many people are playing checkers when the game is chess.” — GaryVee
Chess is simulated warfare. We deploy and manoeuvre pawns, knights, and bishops to capture the opponent’s resources in the most profitable sequence. A rook is worth more than a bishop, but sometimes it is the right trade to make.
Such tradeoffs and outmanoeuvring prove evident in business. We fight for the same dollar in the clients’ pockets alongside known and unknown opponents. We expend resources as we deem fit to serve the greater goal.
Nonetheless, the business has a far more complex terrain than the 64 squares game. It is a battlefield that requires greater tenacity and intellectual involvement.
Business favours those who dare to outwork, outlast, and out-strategise others. As such success smiles at those with the forcing moves — the client goes for the guy with an offer he can’t resist.
Forcing moves are childbirth of strategy. They are moves that demand the opponent to react in certain ways to your actions. In chess, there are forcing moves like check (putting the opponent king under attack), capture (picking the opponent’s piece) and threat ( eg. mate-in-one — threatening to win on your next move).
Forcing moves are essential to driving home victory. It is the most potent tool of a strategic business mind.
But such power seems to have withered away in today’s copycat marketplace. Everyone is merely playing safe and doing what others have done. Forcing moves had become a rarity and most strategic endeavours are watered down born of indefinite optimism at best.
The GodFather Strategy
It sounds melodious and inviting to hear of a set of tacts and forcing moves to permanently kick all competitors out of the market. It will be the super checkmate of all time. But that will prove to be a useless pursuit. Competitors are not going away and more of them will surely arise.
The concept of forcing moves is far more enriching and meaningful if we could shift our gears and put our attention on the customers where it is critically required.
The customer is the ultimate concern. The king we should strive to checkmate. Beating around with tactics to eliminate your competitors can only prove futile or ruin your image if you push the envelope too far. What you need is the Godfather Strategy.
Make The Prospects An Irresistible Offer!
Welcome to the Godfathers’ club, a league of elite entrepreneurs, strategists, and business leaders who deeply understand the new field of play, are armed with forcing moves and dominate the game.
Godfathers are the Grand Masters of business. Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen of customer acquisition, conversion, and retention. They see the end games from the openings. They lead the top 1% per cent of successful businesses. They are fiercely highly regarded, feared, and worshipped in their spaces. They are masters of irresistible offers.
Sell Me A Purple Cow
Scroll through your Instagram feed and count the number of skincare brands yelling at you. How about we try to count the number of WhatsApp statuses that sell Gucci bags and Balenziaga shoes? There is a flood of them. Perhaps you are one of them.
It is no news the marketplace is saturated, it has always been for centuries before ours. What has become worse is the rate of indifference the offers.
Same product. Same story. Same price. Nothing different. Godfathers know this and sell the purple cows.
Imagine yourself on a cattle ranch with a friend shopping for a cow for the coming festive. There are thousands of black and white cows mooing around, and suddenly you observe a purple cow at the edge of the farm.
Exactly. It will cut your attention and be worth a couple of comments.
Perhaps, you may walk towards it. What if the cow is the healthiest, biggest and, shockingly, the cheapest on the farm? Now, I am certain I’m buying it.
Most businesses sell alongside the crowd with resistible offers and zero differentiation. By differentiation, merely changing the colour of a cow is not enough. The pricing, health, and size force the sale.
The offer becomes irresistible when it has a knockout punch. A killer promise the customer will feel stupid to reject. A Jawbreaking combination that the competitors can’t compete with. Great offers come as a big risk no one else dares to take — a challenge without a matching opponent. A unique story with irresistible offers crowns the Godfathers in the business. It is the holy grail of contagious marketing and viral sales.
Steal These Moves
“Good artists copy, great artists steal!” — Pablo Picasso
If this is a gimmick book, one of those free ebooks that point you in a vain direction and expect you to hunt out the rest, it will be just fine to end this chapter in the last session. After all, I have made my point; tell a unique story with built-in irresistible mouth-watering offers, that’s all there’s to it. However, this book is more than that.
In this session, I will share top-secret moves I have helped clients implement that work wonderfully. I promise to make it practical with relatable examples, so you can implement it right away.
For most businesses, one of these gambits is enough to lead with an irresistible offer. The combination of two or more of these moves promise great damage to your competitors and will set you in a league beyond their reach. Let’s dive in.
Domino is a Godfather. The marketing team are good at playing the Surplus Gambit. Try to visit their ‘boring’ website only if you have complete armour against the Egyptian enchantment because the 50% OFF today will force you to place an order.
Sometimes, they flip the same coin to its second face and ask you to buy 2 to get 2 more. In both instances, I barely find a reason not to order.
While discussing this idea with a client, she acknowledged that she once had to order from their website while on a date in one of their Lagos store. I thought she was only being weird until two more clients attested to the same report.
The Surplus Gambit is super effective if your business can slam your customers in the face with super ridiculous offers. I often see businesses throwing 20% OFF at everyone’s face, which seems to be commonplace today.
Elon, are you suggesting I throw out all the profit to get sales? NO!
Surplus Gambit is a powerful tool in the hands of businesses that developed a cheaper formula to make the same product and could afford to slash the price. It is not a tactic to deploy for businesses in tough competition with thin-line marginal returns. Competing on price is also a ruinous path in the long run.
It is noteworthy, however, to mention that to be a true Godfather you need to be in a space where you can dictate the game and not bend to the wave of the red ocean with zero flexibility. Sell off your business and scout for greener pastures if the margins in your market have competed away.
If your margins are tight enough to stick with, but slashing off profits sounds too crude and lame for you, stay with me, there are six more gambits ahead.
Any good marketing book must acknowledge the fear of missing out (FOMO) as a core driver of human decisions. It is the reason many of us struggle to bag a degree.
If the “Mama do good” Indomie Instant Noodles TV Ad lives rent-free in your head, you are not alone. It has stuck in mine too. Knowing that is not enough, the Indofood marketing brilliancy perpetuates with the adept play of the curiosity gambit — a gift inside.
One season, we are on the hunt for stickers of some weird superheroes — The Indomitable. In another season, we are making crosswords and finding letters.
The Curiosity Gambit is so effective that 7up, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Monster, Guilder, 33, Legend, and all soft and hard drinks companies always have a code under the crown cork. Just an extra reason to sip a bottle, a gift inside.
How about Wisdom Tooth Brush with tiny toothpaste for one-time use? B29 Soap with free sachet lotion cream? Banana Bubble Gum with fun facts? Kwara Hotel with a free breakfast buffet? The University of Ilorin with Android Tablet and Unlimited WiFi?
The Curiosity Gambit has tons of basic and advanced variations. It also proves effective across multiple industries, demographics, and products.
What gift do you have inside? Will it compel us to buy?
A house, one SUV car, some millions in cash, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai used to be the perfect mix for a lottery. Those are the items we grow up to know as constitute a good lottery game.
In recent times, that list has graduated to include bogus items such as planes, yachts, mansions, and petrol stations. Telecommunication companies are big players in this session.
Otherwise, items such as rams, bags of rice, cement, building blocks, motorcycles, refrigerators, television sets, generators, washing machines, blenders, smartphones, and 60 seconds to raid Shoprite are popular for the low-budget lottery. Real Estate companies and Peter PSquare of Zoom Lifestyle lead this troupe.
In either case, people are quick to discount the odds of not winning a lottery and eager to jump at any opportunity that presents itself as credible to deliver as promised.
Don’t confuse Curiosity Gambit with Lottery Gambit. While the former present a ready gift in the package, the latter sought to bait people with a chance of winning a dream. However, they can increase that chance by holding multiple raffle tickets.
Lottery Gambit is super effective when the fantastic items up for grabs truly command desire from a large audience or equate direct value such as money. There is always a festive window to run a lottery, I don’t mind if I win the next Christmas chicken from you.
Why do we intend to buy one egg that costs ₦30 and then end up with four eggs for ₦100? We don’t even care if the set of 4 eggs looks ugly, sick and smaller.
The truth is: that we are all susceptible to greed at varying levels. We love to pay less for more, even if it is logically incoherent. We look out for the best deals and those who are willing to cut us more.
The Volume Gambit is a handy tool for businesses that thrive on bundling. Cloud-based Software companies like Kitcart.net use Volume Gambit to determine the relative cost of servers, file storage, database, and other system resources as you opt to upgrade your plan.
Unlike Curiosity Gambit with a gift inside or Surplus Gambit that straightforwardly slashes the price, Volume Gambit is a teaser. You only get to bite off the cost when the customer chooses to buy more.
It is not a discount. It is a pricing mechanism that suggests the customer buy more to pay less in average cost per item. It is the archetypical 3 tubers of the yam game that reduces the overall cost as more yams are added to the cart.
If 200ML body cream costs ₦2,000 and 500ML is only ₦3,500 instead of supposing ₦5,000 — that’s Volume Gambit. It gives customers a reason to rationalise buying more.
If you are in a market of heavy bucket delivery where bundling is the traditional layout of the market, you can reverse-engineer the volume gambit and offers by creating small affordable versions of your products.
Cowbell disrupts the milk industry with its 20g sachet of milk that makes powdered milk available to every household without breaking the budget on the big packs. The economies proved the tiny sachet is more expensive when compared in cost per gram against the bigger packs, but it is obvious these tiny sachets are the best sellers among children and low-income households.
The important lesson: play with the Volume Gambit in whatever respect you see fit and craft out the volume versus cost variations that will hedge you against the market and propel patronage from new, existing, and underserved customers.
The zwischenzug is a chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move, first interposes another move posing an immediate threat that the opponent must answer, and only then plays the expected move.
Zwischenzug is also known as an in-between move. It is a tactic that employs one or more gambits to create an effect. It is a passport, not the destination.
A coupon is a perfect example of zwischenzug. It is not a direct gambit but an effective in-between move. A coupon can be designed to implement Surplus, Curiosity, Volume, or any of the other gambits.
The importance of this tactic is to trigger the consumer to take the offer. Coupons also help build returning customers.
I came across a story about a grocery store that gives a coupon on every completed cart but the coupon becomes valid from the following day, thus the holder can only return it to use it on their next shopping.
At your next visit, the attendant generates another one that commensurates the value of your cart. Yet another reason for you to visit next time.
It is so effective that some people decided not to take the coupons anymore because it is forcing them to come back to the same shop.
When you have an online store built with kitcart.net, creating and customising a coupon of any type is as easy as eating today’s bread with Titus.
Giveaway your C4 pawn to gain tempo and central dominance. This is not about Beth Harmon or Netflix. We are on a mission of creating irresistible offers. Queen’s Gambit is the mother of all gambits.
So what’s Queen’s Gambit? It is your chance to make a lasting impression. It is giving away a valuable resource for free with no intent of receiving payment whatsoever. Sound ridiculous? Wait for me to break it down.
Seth Godin is a godfather and a grandmaster of Queen’s Gambit. I read his blog, watch his videos, and listen to his podcast. I have tons of his books ordered directly from Amazon on my bookshelf. I will participate in his $795 Akimbo workshop by October.
How did the relationship start? He offered a free ebook that matters to me when I needed it the most. Then I became an inner member of the cult of Godin.
Russell Brunson is a Godfather. His book DotCom Secrets is 393 pages and sold for $26.99 per copy. He gives out the hardcover for free while I only paid for the shipping fee.
FutureX Digital is a Godfather. Since 2019, we have been offering free digital services such as graphic design, animation, website, and mobile applications to top content creators, BBNaija stars, Instagram influencers, and Nollywood celebs while they promote us with mentions and shoutouts.
Hypo is an elite member of the league. They kicked Harpic and Jik to oblivion by offering their products for free at their inception. They stormed schools, churches, mosques, and markets to distribute the white sachet to anyone willing to try it. It worked!
Queen Gambit is built on the law of reciprocity — just as much as we enjoy freebies, we distaste feeling indebted. We love a balance sheet and we will do anything to square up with others.
Nothing triumphs how you make people feel. Steve Jobs is a marketing genius. He knew this simple truth and used it to create a technology mammoth with a net worth of over 2 trillion dollars.
You can argue for the superior technology and aesthetic design of Apple products, but those have no direct correlation with the reason why you can’t wait for iPhone 14 Pro Max to be out. Does it?
I am sure it doesn’t. You simply can’t wait because you love the feeling of being part of an elite class of iPhone users, the king, one of those that Think Differently.
I am sold too. I am part of the cult and I know it.
What do you want me to do instead? Quit iPhone for Samsung? Or Buy HP instead of MacBook?
No. It is not going to happen. Not anytime soon.
The King’s Gambit thrives on emotional involvement and philosophical indoctrination. It is the same reason people kill to protect their superior religion, go naked or display madness to gain followers, risk bankruptcy to attend ivy-league universities and pay millions for VVVIP tables. It is the gambit that seats at the apex of the pyramid.
There are no easy ways to play the cards. It is hard to attain such premium status in any industry. But I assure you it starts with a story, a cause, and then a movement.
It is progressive. It is strategic. It is built on trust.
One day, we will meet again to explore the details of the King’s Gambit. It is beyond the scope of this book.
Beware of Smother Mate
Great brands are built on great offers. It is erroneous to dangle around perpetual cheap sales offers.
Avoid saturating your brand with “meaningless” sales offers orchestrated for pointless purposes — wedding anniversary sales, birthday sales, weekend sales, daughter’s birthday sales, first son sales, new office sales, and other flimsy courses that signal neediness.
People spot brand inconsistencies, both the obvious blunders and the subtle inaccuracies. Great offers are built right into the marketing strategy. It must be organic and natural. It flows naturally out of your story.
Strong offers are meaningful, truthful, and direct to their course. Random sales events could only imply a lack of patronage, low-quality products, and form a habit of “discounted buying” for your customers.
Great customers hate “price shopping”. Running discount attract new faces and increase revenue in the short run but drives away the perceptive value you have created with marketing. This can only call for catastrophic hints on the margins.
In the long run, the entire industry joins the price war, and the customer as a rational buyer will squeeze more pennies from every bargain aiming at paying as close to the cost value of products as possible.
Only create offers with justified narratives with clear logical and emotional rationale. Dishing out unrelated and uncoordinated sales offers is hazardous to your branding. It threatens the lifespan of its existence. Avoid it at all costs.
If your customers think exactly the way you think they will be selling what you are selling. It is that simple.
We are all selling the Knowledge Gap. If you ever pay a penny to get this book, you are convinced I will be making a profit. In another word, I am ripping you off yet you are choosing to allow me.
It sounds like a no-brainer to say you are paying for the knowledge gap by buying this book. Even a dunce can deduce that right?
Is it not that you are convinced that this book contains liberating information far worth than the amount you paid to have a copy just like any other book or “information product”?
Make no such mistake, paying for the knowledge gap goes beyond books, courses, and “training programs”. You are also paying for the knowledge gap when you use Kitcart to build your website or buy a wristwatch on Instagram. The seller happens to know how to get the same wristwatch for a little less than the amount you pay him for it.
Value is perceptive. The Albin Counter-Gambit is how to exploit knowing what it is.
Adede Doe and Abigail Tawiah seemed to be destined to do great exploits together. As high school friends, they both proceed to study Accounting at the University of Ghana. During their undergraduate studies, they uncovered their interests in fashion wear and Adede ventured into African prints, while Abigail had an eye for the jeans market.
Later in 2018 while the duo was set to graduate, they merged ventures and birthed what will come to be Ghana’s largest online jean house, The Jean Shop GH.
The brand had its rough early days setting the tune for eCommerce in the least digitally active country, Ghana. With sheer dedication, hard work, and great storytelling, the little brand started gaining appeal among Ghana youth.
By 2020, the venture has grown big enough to demand its physical store. The entrepreneurs figured constructing their own space will be the best strategic investment in the brand’s future. The project proves to demand more than envisioned due to the unregulated hike in the prices of building materials such as cement.
To keep the project afloat, the duo decided to double down on sales offering incessant discounts in the hope to keep the customers engaged and constantly buying. It worked for a while until the effect fades out.
One day while they are brainstorming on how to improve their sales and complete the building, the Albin Counter-Gambit struck them like a lightning bolt. It appeared as a bright refreshing idea, but also comes with the fear that it makes cost them to lose tons of customers to the competitors.
So to play within a safety net, they decided to cherry-pick one of their least in-demand product for a test drive, they increase its price by 50% from 80GH₵ to 120GH₵.
Just after posting about the price increase on Instagram, something wildly counter-intuitive happened, the demand for the product skyrocketed and in 3 days it was sold out.
They retried their little experiments and the result continued to be astonishing. People are willing to buy more even at a price increase. They decided not to push the bar with greed but also agreed to do sales discounts only once a year.
The building project was completed in 2020 and the two entrepreneurs continued to grow their business seeking new knowledge of customer behaviour. Their curiosity, risk tolerance and controlled experimentation have helped them grow the business to become one of the most-followed fashion brands in Ghana with over 560,000 followers on Instagram.
Why would Albin Counter-Gambit ever work when the economist proves that customers react negatively to price increases?
First, we have to admit the economists were right. In a perfect market with rational buyers, ideas such as Albin Counter Gambit should beckon a brand disaster. It is a logically sound argument that the economists were so sold into it that they glorified it as a law and not a theory, principle or hypothesis.
The truth, however, is that there are no such things as perfect markets or rational buyers. It is not uncommon for men to pay #1,000 for a bottle of water to impress the hot girl at the bar. Nothing is ever rational in our purchasing habits.
I ditch cheap counterfeit books to order from Amazon and pay an account twice the price of the book for shipping and “import fees”. There is nothing rational about that decision, at least it is never a function of price.
We are all subjects of our emotions. We play to the turn of our social context. Times and often psychologists have proven that we don’t make rational decisions but we rather rationalise our decisions after we made them based on our emotions.
Whenever we are informed of a price increase, it is not strange for us to rationalise changing market order, the fall of the Naira against the dollar, and even the possibility of better quality as reasons for the increment.
We empathise with the seller and prove our loyalty by trying to buy one or two items from them. After all, it is a tough spot for her hence she wouldn’t have intentionally chosen to increase the price of the product.
Above all else, buying a Gucci bag or anything whatsoever from the brands we represent goes beyond our solving for our needs, it has, even more, to say about how we attach our purchases to our identity and social status. It fuels our ego to buy even at higher prices.
As a worthy side note, there is not much to say about a product in a casual conversation to prove status than to mention how expensive or cheaper it has become compared to when you buy it. Any sane movie about social class features a scene that proves this theory.
Frame of Reference
Your offers collide with your stories in your frame of reference. Every offer fails when it doesn’t match its story. The popular exotic fashion brand, Luis Vuitton, has a bold affirmative statement against discounted versions of its products.
It could appear tempting to purchase a cheap Louis Vuitton handbag online expecting to receive the world-renown Louis Vuitton quality at a discount price; however one may want to reconsider. Cheap Louis Vuitton bags are nothing more than counterfeits.
As many online shoppers have already regretfully discovered, the cheap LV bag that one may be tempted to order online will not be near the quality, style and luxury associated with Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton never discounts its products, and Louis Vuitton items advertised as discounted on the Web are invariably counterfeits and of poor quality.
Louis Vuitton products are sold exclusively via their stores and official websites: www.louisvuitton.com and www.24s.com. Louis Vuitton is a luxury brand, asking for premium is the hallmark of luxury brands and keeping the flow as scarce forges the intricacies of offers in such a context.
Hence, many of the above-listed gambits will not match your brand stories and frame of reference. Don’t offer discounts on your luxury brand. It cheapens the brand and disvalues the brand equity. Don’t volume gambit where the promise is rarity and scarcity, stay true to the cause of your brand!
It is better you forged a new brand to cater for such demands even in the same market. Nonetheless, avoid line extensions, most new brand fails because the creators attempt to build them on existing brand equity. Imagine how ridiculous it will sound if Close Up attempts to sell bread with the same brand.
This article is a whole chapter in my upcoming book, Catalysts — 7 Secrets of Highly Successful Businesses. If you are interested in the other six elements that accelerate business growth, you can get a free copy of the book on my website.