O'Leary's Corporate Power Pitch

Ryanair are an anomaly of a company. I myself have flown with them. Yet after several underwhelming experiences, for a few years now I’ve not taken up the offer of their services.  I remain intrigued how in this day and age a company that shows such scant disregard, contempt even, towards the concept of ‘customer service’ can not only survive, but strikingly thrive.

Whilst I find their sobriquet among the disaffected, “pikeyair”, and for that matter the equivalent for their similar competition (EasyJet’s of “sleazyjet”), a tad harsh, especially given the British disgrace of knocking the successful, the pronouncements of their boss, Michael O’Leary, whilst often entertainingly the opposite of anodyne corporate doublespeak, tend to do very little to endear the flying public towards him and his wares. (By way of illustration, see this 1 June WSJ blog post)

Their exceptional annual results heralded typically belligerent rolling news soundbites from the man himself. I was so taken with the sales savvy of his words that I scribbled them down straight away as follows, after he stated that for 99% of passengers, the only thing that matters is price:

The first question people ask is not ‘who’s got the best wine list’ but ‘who’s got the cheapest price’. If you’ve got the cheapest price you win. We’re like the Tesco of the air; people might not love us but they’ll certainly fly with us.

It was a masterclass in pitching. My immediate thought was that anyone could adopt his structure and position their strengths in such a way. Think about what facts he frames.

He knows his number one strength (low price) and mercilessly pushes it. He adds power to it by comparison with the unnecessary bells and whistles of competition. Whilst I never commend the wanton slagging off of competitors, his technique can be gotten away with. He continues by aligning to an admired blue-chip from a different industry (retail giant Tesco, only bettered in size worldwide I read the other day by Carrefour next and Wal-Mart top). And does so in usual fashion by exposing their possible ‘fault’ in an advantageous way.

In addition, this is a lovely approach for any new product or new company direction you wish to plug.

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