Why You’re Getting Blindsided by the Competition

This year, more companies will go out of business because of internal blindness than because of their competition. The blind side of your businesses is not the competition. We can all see them. What doesn’t show up in your rear view mirror, that’s only there when you turn around, is you. A ghost of you. It’s you as an obsession that steals your company’s soul and leaves you a wraith, wandering around your industry wringing your hands about the competition. In effect, the competition is killing you, but not the way they intend, and not how you may think. Here are 5 ways it happens:

Your Competition Kills Your Business When You’re Focused on Your Competition.

Trying to dodge the competitive bullet is how you get hit. You can’t afford to focus on the competition, and people that are telling you to are using fear to sell you something. There’s plenty of room in the market. If we all get better, some of us will make breakthroughs that will extend our industry and improve the world. The shift in focus, from competition to our own commitment to be awesome, ensures that that’s us becoming best in class. Fear of competition isn’t really fear of competition, it’s fear that we – ourselves – are actually inadequate and not awesome. And that fear makes us inadequate and not awesome. Be fearless.

Your Competition Kills Your Business When You’re Trying to Hide What You’re Doing.

There’s no secret sauce to effective digital marketing that you can camp on and keep from your competition. Effective digital marketing is obvious, and everyone will see it because, after all, it’s marketing – it’s not meant to be secret. If it reaches a wide enough audience to be taken seriously, any idiot can see what you’re doing. That’s when you know it’s working. If you’ve got a secret technique that no one knows about, here’s a secret, it’s secret because it doesn’t work. Companies that are afraid someone will take their keywords, figure out their backlinks, or find out who built their web site have too little self-respect to be competitive, even when they’re trying to be competitive. Stop that. It takes energy and focus away from being awesome. Awesome is the only thing that’s both hard to hide and hard to compete with.

Your Competition Kills Your Business When You Let Your Business Remain Easy to Duplicate.

If a company is so similar to the competition that their marketing remains essentially generic and therefore duplicable, then their marketing isn’t worth duplicating. But people will still do it. You’re actually much more likely to be replicated when your business is mediocre, because the mediocre is easy to replicate. It’s the truly stellar that is hard to copy. They can copy your words, your style, your hairdo. They can buy the same suit of marketing clothes. But they can’t deliver on the thing they’ve promised, and it’ll burn them in ways awesome doesn’t have to deal with. If you’re feeling like “one of” something, instead of truly something, add more brainpower. Seriously, the hardest thing to duplicate is what comes out of your intelligence that you add to your work and use to shape it into something better than merely “one of” something. Even if your industry seems cookie cutter, there are ways to be an innovator; if you don’t see it yet, you just need help thinking creatively.

Your Competition Kills Your Business When You Don’t Engage Your Audience.

Focus on the competition steals focus from your prospective clients. There, we said it. An over-emphasis on competition is bad customer service. You’re no longer listening for the gold with your audience, you’re listening to what your competition is saying to your audience. You just drank two cups of poison. Your competitor’s assumptions are now the filter with which you listen to prospective clientele, and their ideas are framing the competitive debate.  The danger is you’ve become a follower of your competitors, not a leader for your customers. Welcome to second class where you get to charge second rate. Stop it. Craft meaningful differentiators that set you apart as the clear choice from your competition, by giving your audience what you hear them calling out for – which, if you listen closely, will be tangible, specific, and about them, not about you or about any other company at all.

Your Competition Kills Your Business When You Don’t Lead Your Industry.

A genuine competitive advantage is having the guts to be so good that you *will* attract attention, and the courage to be so effective that what you do is not only obvious, it’s the center of attention. Don’t get killed by competition, get energized, get excited. You have a market, and the fact that you have a market is what gives you a basis to lead. Pity the person with no competition, because there’s no market pushing them to excel. This is why you don’t eat tacos in Chinatown or buy a suit in a strip mall. You’re a leader, not merely a competitor. It’s a subtle difference, but leadership is about excellence, not compulsive rubbernecking and worry.

Don’t be a statistic on the road to awesome. Don’t take directions from a guy at the last gas station for 500 miles. And don’t eat the shrimp cocktail at the only diner in town with a bathroom. These are just good rules of thumb for making steady progress without having to pull over and park unexpectedly.

If you want help finding your awesome, contact us for a Discovery Session, and let’s look under the hood together. See you on the flip side.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership in marketing, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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