The competition

The thought of competition brings out the fight in us.

I once worked for a CEO who sent an overnight package to our competitor’s CEO. Inside was an old cavalry hat with an arrow shot through it. The note simply said: We’re invading your territory and taking no prisoners.

But before you start pounding your chest and downloading Patton on Netflix, it’s time for a conversation on the competition. As mentioned in our prior 2 posts on marketing insight (look before you leap and marketing scenarios), focus on the competition is what most businesses get fixated on. More often than not it’s what brings prospects to us. It usually comes in the form of:  “our competitors are doing x and we need to do it, too” or “our competitor is cheaper, but no one understands the value we bring.” Our clients want to know how to take the competition down a peg or eliminate them entirely – clearly the idea of my ex-CEO’s FedEx package. We have seen it before and know how to handle this fight mentality. Truth is you don’t fight. Why, you ask? Because competitors aren’t where your focus should be. They don’t purchase your product or services. Customers do. When you focus on competitors you take your eye off the prize.

Do we ignore competitors entirely? No, you use them to your advantage. You analyze them to better inform you about the marketplaces you seek to grow in. Questions like, in which channels do they operate? How do our competitors affect pricing? What assets and attributes do the competition currently own and what do we do to differentiate our business from theirs in a way that provides strong appeal to our target audience?

The Coke and Pepsi advertising wars of the past are over. Even the Mac and PC ads have faded away. Custer and Geronimo are long gone. Put away the bow and arrows, and use today’s analytics to full capacity to better understand your marketplace and most importantly to serve the customers you seek.