Coke versus Pepsi, McDonalds versus Burger King, Ford versus Chevrolet – is it any wonder that entrepreneurs are constantly worried about their competitors? One look at the big brands and you’d think that’s the right approach.
I want to challenge you to change your mindset about your competitors. Are you ready?
The world needs your competitors and you.
You see, not every person you meet will be able to work with you. Perhaps you and a prospect don’t have the right vibe, maybe you’re located in the wrong city or perhaps your offerings don’t meet the needs of that person.
And so when that sales prospect finds that synergy with your competitor, that’s a good thing. Wish her well and focus your energies on the rest of the people who do need you. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to spin your wheels trying to connect with someone who isn’t meant to work with you? Even further, aren’t you glad that sales prospect found someone perfect for him?
It’s always about your customers – it’s never about you.
Your competitor’s offerings
I have met with many clients who get very concerned when their competitors offer a new product or service. As if this one product will take away every potential client in the world!
There are more people in the world than your competitors can serve. In fact, there are more people in the world than you can serve.
So, don’t fret when your competitor launches a new product or service. Instead, observe and learn from what they’re doing. What lessons can you take away for your business?
One more thing: Don’t try to match your competitor’s new product with something you whip up. I once had a hospital COO who saw an ad in the newspaper from a competitor hospital about their orthopedics program, and he immediately wanted us to create an ad ASAP about our orthopedics program. Orthopedics was not on our yearly marketing strategy, it was not in our marketing plan and we really didn’t have anything to say. It’s common to have a knee-jerk reaction to what your competitors are doing with their marketing, but push past this response. Stick to what your marketing strategy is.
Benchmark from your competition
I would never contend, though, that you shouldn’t be aware of your competitors and what they’re offering. It’s always smart marketing to do a competitive analysis because it helps you identify gaps in the marketplace (gaps you can fill with your services!). Another reason to watch your competitors is to benchmark what they are doing. If your competitor is blazing the trail, what can you learn? What mistakes did they make that you don’t have to repeat?
Sometimes I joke that benchmarking is “borrowing ideas” from others – but this is done in a loving way. Open your heart and mind, and you’ll learn a lot from your competition’s hard work.
Every business has competition. This means you are someone’s competitor too. Approach your competition not as people trying to steal your business but as entrepreneurs who are trying to serve their customers. Like you, they have a purpose in the marketplace. Learn from what they’re doing and benchmark their successes. Most importantly, stop worrying about them. There are plenty of people in the world who need your services. Focus your energy on finding them.
Photo courtesy of Sean Loyless