CONFESSION: I started writing this blog with the intention of writing about identifying and differentiating yourself from competitors. I had plans to break down how you could find those businesses who you were in competition with, identify strategic differences, and exploit them for success. As I sat down to try to write, I realized two things. First, that article exists already. Google competitive research, or strategic advantage and you’ll get all kinds of “5 Step” articles that may be helpful to you. But the bigger thing I realized is this:
COMPETITION IS IRRELEVANT
Everyone is going to say do your research, know your strengths and weaknesses, compare your pricing strategies, and model what your competitors are doing well. But you know what your real strength is going to be? Building a relationship with your consumer. We are in an economy right now that has rendered competition is almost unnecessary. There is enough business out there to go around. What you can do to set yourself up for success when that eventually changes is focus on the consumer, not the competition.
Adopt an Attitude of Abundance
I often hear from business owners who have a hard time selling their product or service. I think it comes from a level of desperation. When you believe you HAVE to make a sale to pay the bills or even just to hit your goal for that month, it adds unbelievable pressure to the situation and your clients can feel that.
Release that pressure by adopting what I like to call an “Attitude of Abundance.” There is no shortage of clients. No one sale is crucial.
Don’t Emulate, Differentiate
The biggest risk you run when doing a ton of research on your competitors is that your business ends up looking just like theirs. Then what happens? You’re forced to compete on price – lowering your margins because that’s the only way you can “win” business. This is not only unwise, but unsustainable.
Rather than looking for businesses to model yours after, put blinders on and trust yourself. No one else in the world brings exactly what you do to the table and THAT IS OK. Have the confidence to create your own strategic advantage. If your business looks just like someone else’s, you’re doing something wrong.
The surest way to serve your clients and build a relationship that eliminates competition is to think bigger than anyone else in your space. Think about it in terms of problem-solving. Your product or service solves a problem for your clients. How can you take that one step further? What else are they struggling with that you could easily address?
Amazon has done this better than anyone and they have totally redefined how massive chain stores like Walmart are doing business. They started out in the 90’s as an online bookstore. Let that sink in knowing the businesses that they are in now. Online streaming, home goods, food, apparel, etc. Oh, not to mention that they recently acquired retail giant Whole Foods Market.
Amazon has succeeded for many reasons but primarily because at the root of their organization they recognized that they were not just a bookstore. Their customers were shopping for other products, why shouldn’t they buy from Amazon? They were thinking bigger than anyone else in the space.