Tuesday, May 11, 2010

us and them

What makes competition what it is? Why does it matter? Some use competition to work harder, others to give up beforehand. There are grim faces, smirks and comments. Here are ways for you to consider something else: 

If you become so totally kick ass good at being the brand, and you know what it is that makes you and your product different, then competition is basically off the cards, because you have literally become a new breed in your own right, a special species. Unless you bang out washing machines that are the same as the ones from up the road, you've got options. 

As Seth Godin puts it: "You don't have to like competition in order to understand that it exists. Your fair share isn't going to be yours unless you give the public a reason to pick you." (the rest of his post here)

The competition mindset is one of fear. I am a huge believer that there are excellent ways of making distinctions in the big pool, or like Seth said: give people a reason to choose you. There is usually work for everyone, depending on how you look at it. Look further then door number 1. It's not about going along with playing the game, but to change the game or to play your own game. Either way, getting too hung up about the whole gig is bad for your health. The most successful people are telling the story right, know the benefits that they offer and have that magic "it" factor that people will remember. They have full confidence and belief in themselves and their product. It is magnetic.

Above can also apply to you as a person. I explained to my husband the other day that he should remember that he is valuable as a professional and a rare commodity on the market, so to speak (which he is). It's good to realize your own market value, don't sell yourself short, and also, dare to ASK for what you want and know you can. Nicely. It is different approaching your target audience with confidence -knowing what you got- opposed to from a place of 'what if', desperation or neediness. Most people can smell your underlying thought pattern by reading your behavior in a flash. Examine your attitudes.

Another reason to look at - and work with competition differently is that I have found it far more worthwhile to work with them. It's not a matter of "keeping your friends close but keep your enemies closer"; but to see the competition not as an opponent at all, rather someone to work with to create mutual benefit. This makes sense, and it's a lot more positive and fun then the other way round. Why repel or ignore them? Have a chat and see how you can help one another. Some may be very suspicious, others wary, or even very surprised. It doesn't hurt to try. Consider it.

Competition definitely has it's place and function: it does work as the benchmark of any given topic, because of the competition's existence you can re-evaluate where you stand yourself and how you think and feel about the process. You should almost be thankful that they are obliging to just exist in this fashion so you can learn from them.

And finally: how about the discussions that you have to be where the action is (so others are not going to out-do you)? Naturally if you are a retailer or a local dairy this makes sense. But what if you can take that retailing online? What I find so captivating is that more and more entrepreneurs seems to be able to work from anywhere and be creative and resourceful in how they earn a living. Products can be send from many locations. The key is being flexible and adapting to your market. (Check out how Ponoko does things here. I use them for my jewelery and they are a very clever bunch. Also ice cream manufacturer Giapo in Auckland, New Zealand has absolutely aced at marketing their product, using social media -very impressive- they have a compelling organic story to boot.)

"the Global Micro brand is sustainable. With it you are not beholden to one boss, one company, one customer, one local economy or even one industry. Your brand develops relationships in enough different places to where your permanent address becomes almost irrelevant".
Hugh Macleod
(the rest of his post here)

Now I have to say: I like that idea very much indeed. 

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