By Evan Carmichael on April 13th, 2010
Every month I poll my readers and over the past month the number one challenge that came back was about competition. This month I decided to write about it and tap an expert to provide some help and advice.
Words like “stiff competition” and “heavy competition” were common from my readers and entrepreneurs are feeling the crunch as more and more low-priced options are sprouting up and it’s becoming more difficult to compete.
For some expert advice I’m turning to Kim Castle from BrandU. With nearly two decades in the advertising and design business, with clients like Domino’s Pizza, General Motors, Direct TV, Pedigree, Wolfgang Puck, Higher Octave Music, Hollywood Celebrity Products, Disney, and Paramount, as well as thousands of entrepreneurs around the world Kim Castle’s goal is to help one million entrepreneurs become successful and whole so that they can make a difference in the world.
Will You Survive the NEW Competition Four Ways to Win Customers Every Time?
There I said it — the dreaded “C” word. Most people fall into one of three reactions when they think about facing competition: 10% of them go weak in the knees and would rather pretend it didn’t exist, 10% relish competition like it was an ice cream sundae, take a spoon and run with it, and the remaining 80% well… they’re in the middle unsure which way to go. They wait for something to happen —something outside of themselves to cause them to stand up and win or lie down and let the prize pass them by. Where do you fall when it comes to competition?
The dictionary defines competition as:
• the activity of doing something with the goal of outperforming others
• an activity in which people try to do something better than others or win
Someone great once said, “competition breeds excellence” — yelled by athletic coaches everywhere across the world. I’m sure Darwin would agree, saying it’s the building bock of his “survival of the fittest”. So where does this consumer contest really fit into your world as an entrepreneur or small business owner? The answer is —everywhere. And it’s also nowhere — depending on how you play it. In fact “the game” just got even better!
“The “information age” has leveled the playing field so that any business (or any person in business) can be as powerful as another. Never in history has the field been so open — possibilities so endless. The catch is: it’s equally great for you as the “you” anywhere else in the world. You are competing with every other business, large or small. In the minds of consumers it’s the same.”
We’ve just transitioned into a new paradigm of business and the global society is still getting its footing.
In the past two decades, we have been moving from the “industrial age” (driven by productivity and machines), through the “post-industrial age”, and we are now firmly in the “information age” (driven by information and individuals). Again, the “information age” is driven by individuals.
This means YOU.
Please don’t disconnect when you read “global society” just because you work for yourself and your market may be your zip code. You ARE a part of the global society, especially in this information age. Thanks to the global connection of the Internet you have just as much “reach” power as any company, corporation, or even government out there. You just haven’t been shown how to speak as loud… yet.
The “information age” has leveled the playing field so that any business (or any person in business) can be as powerful as another. Never in history has the field been so open — possibilities so endless. The catch is: it’s equally great for you as the “you” anywhere else in the world. You are competing with every other business, large or small. In the minds of consumers it’s the same.
“That’s a lot of choice thrown at consumers every single day. It’s also a lot of noise. Your customers do what you do. They filter it all out. And only the products or services that really connect to them, through their mind and their heart, ever get to their wallet.”
A recent study of Advertising and Consumption revealed that “on average, customers receive 230 marketing images every day.” That’s every SINGLE DAY!
That’s a lot of choice thrown at consumers every single day. It’s also a lot of noise. Your customers do what you do. They filter it all out. And only the products or services that really connect to them, through their mind and their heart, ever get to their wallet.
To make sure you grasp in the power of this, please say the next line out loud so that you truly take it to heart – “MY COMPETITION IS EVERY ONE.”
It also means that everyone is a potential customer as well.
Incorporating the theory of Unified Conscious Development, the foundational philosophy of BrandU®, there are 4 things you can do to win customers every time.
“Your “why” should be so charged with power that it breaks through the noise and gives them a deeper reason.”
1. Know why you do your business and fly it up the flag pole. As a result of marketing overwhelm, consumers crave a deeper reason to buy something. Your “why” should be so charged with power that it breaks through the noise and gives them a deeper reason.
2. Put knowledge on a throne. We’re in the information age. Knowledge is king — it’s more important than any product or service you can ever offer! When you adjust your mindset to this understanding, there is no end to how you can differentiate yourself from the rest. Just remember, your competition can do this too.
3. Give your business a place to live. Not an actual address — a structure. You absolutely must create systems for every aspect of your business or it will explode, or more likely, implode. You need solid processes that you can rely on to give you solid information so that you can chose instead of react. You live in a home for a reason. It gives you shelter, security and a sense of order. Your business needs this structure as well to function, communicate and thrive.
4. Surround yourself in a like community and serve it. Nothing is ever won alone. Although cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times, he did so with the aid of the other twelve riders on his team, as well as dozens of specialists who prepared him for excellence. Think of both your staff/vendors and your customers as your team. One reason why QVC (the #1 TV shopping Network) says their “sales increased 14% every year since 1996” is that they are building a relationship with customers, not just selling to them. You can ensure that customers buy what you sell if you make sure your business constantly impacts their lives.
“Competition is only about raising the bar on your self. And, if you bring more of your self to your business AND to your customers every time you (and they) will always win.”
By making these fours shifts in the way you approach your business, you can be a vital and successful part of the changing currents of business.
So will you survive the new competition? Only YOU can answer that.
It really comes down to you — every time. Rather than “winning over” someone else, realize that competition is only about raising the bar on your self. And, if you bring more of your self to your business AND to your customers every time you (and they) will always win. Make sure there is no competition.
What do you think of Kim’s advice? How are you planning on beating your competition this year?
I’ve love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Tags: athletic coaches, bock, brandu, c word, crunch, design business, dictionary, direct tv, domino s pizza, expert advice, general motors, higher octave music, hollywood celebrity, one challenge, one million, pedigree, relish, spoon, stiff competition, wolfgang puck