Stop Trying to BEAT the Competition
“The universe operates on a win-win basis…Success is not competitive; it is multiplicative. There is room at the top for everyone.”- Alan Cohen
I recently attended a panel about entrepreneurship.
It was interesting to hear the different attitudes about how other entrepreneurs “did it,” what kept them going, how hard they worked, and what advice they’d give budding entrepreneurs.
In an answer to one of the questions (the question itself escapes me) one of the panelists answered that when you run your own business, you’ve got to work hard at always being the best so you can beat out the competition.
This philosophy—this attitude—has been weighing on me ever since.
In any business, competition is a necessary thing. In marketing, it’s a welcome thing.
In marketing, we use competition to help differentiate one business from the next. Looking at a business in the same industry, selling a similar (or even identical) product or service, we can assess what that business is doing to market to their target. We can make educated guesses at who they ideal customer is, what their message is to that customer, and how (or if) they are succeeding.
We then use that information to inform how we brand and/or market our business, or a client’s business, to their own ideal customer. We determine what gaps the competition has left that we can fill, how our target might be different, and how we can create a campaign that will not just stand out from the competition, but stand out particularly to our target audience.
Whether you are running your own business or someone else’s, don’t look at the competition as your enemy.
If you’re constantly focused on “beating out” your competition—or “winning”—you will lose sight of your audience.
It’s not about winning.
It’s about differentiating and getting specific about who you are actually speaking to.
The more specific you can get about who you are targeting, the better!
No product or service or business is for everyone. You probably already know you have a sweet spot. You probably have some idea who your best clients or customers are.
As Seth Godin says, “Specific is a kind of bravery.”
It feels safe to say “anyone can benefit from my product or service.” It feels safe because it means you can cast a wider net.
That wide net, though, creates a bland experience for your customers.
Being specific—UBER SPECIFIC—is brave. It’s putting a stake in the ground about who should do business with you, and about who will actually benefit or have a positive brand experience with your company.
And when you get specific, you will find that it is, in fact, very unlikely that your target market and your competition’s target market are the same people.
If your main focus isn’t on your customer, in creating a worthwhile brand experience for them, then you won’t rise to the top. And that isn’t about beating the competition. That’s all about providing your customer with what they need/want/desire.
Any entrepreneur should already have a list in their head of who their competition is. If you are a strong entrepreneur, and if you are confident about your product/service, your business model, and your target market, then you won’t be spending your days trying to beat out the competition.
Like Alan Cohen says, “There’s room at the top for everyone.” Your competition can succeed with their target, while you succeed with your’s.
So stop trying the beat the competition, and start trying to win your target market.