Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
Think about your three biggest competitors. … Got ‘em?
Now, what do you say when a potential customer asks you why they should do business with you instead of them?
More often than not your response contains subjective and ineffective language. You say things like “x years in business, trusted leader, great customer service, quality, value, blah, blah, blah.”
Ever stop to think why they ask you that question?
Most people in business are highly competitive by nature, so why aren’t their businesses reflective of that competitive spirit? – Grant Gooding
The reason isn’t because they’re challenging you — it’s because they honestly don’t know. They don’t know because you look, sound and smell just like those other three competitors and they have no idea why you are different or why they should hire you.
I know what you’re thinking. “We are not like our competitors. We are much better …” and you can likely site five to 10 real-world examples of how you are better. If this is the case, then why does your pitch sound just like theirs? Why do you copy each other’s brochures? And why do your websites look like clones?
The answer is because you are a wimp.
Probably not you personally, but your company is almost certainly a wimp.
Most people in business are highly competitive by nature, so why aren’t their businesses reflective of that competitive spirit? Most “competitors” act more like 13-year-old best friends who watch the same shows (training); copy each other’s speech (industry lingo); and mimic each other’s behavior (marketing), catchphrases (messaging) and clothes (website) rather than acting like competitive enterprises that are vying for winning business to stay alive.
So how do you escape the homogeneity and not be a wimp? You pick a fight.
Picking a fight forces you to take a position and stick to it.
Picking a fight and owning a position not only shows industry leadership, it shows vision and confidence. You will begin to attract the right people who agree with your position and they will fight vigorously on your side.
Here are five steps on how you pick a fight and WIN:
1. Establish a hypothesis of where your competition is failing its customers.
2. Validate that hypothesis with consumer research and confirm the need.
3. Develop objective language that confirms the need and back it up with numbers.
4. Solidify your position and create a stark contrast from the rest of your industry by developing expertise and consistency in that position across all of your training, speech, marketing, messaging and packaging.
5. Pick a fight with your competition and call them out.
Demand to be better, have a chip on your shoulder, stand up for yourself and pick a fight with your competitors. If you do, you will earn the respect of your team, your colleagues and start winning over your customers.
But you can’t win if you don’t pick a fight.
Grant Gooding is a brand strategist & CEO of Lenexa-based Proof Positioning, a firm that uses consumer insights to show business owners how to build a powerful brand by knowing, not guessing. Grant is passionate about educating in the areas of entrepreneurship and brand philosophy.