What the Old Pros Know When Competition is Fierce
- Posted on Dec 29, 2011 in CHI Insight
When a professional athlete retires, it is interesting to see how many become friends with their former competitors. That’s because the best athletes know it wasn’t just the coaches or trainers, teammates or fans that made them great. It was their competitors who brought out the best in them.
That’s true in business as well. Competitors are the force that drives us to improve, innovate, grow and change.
Think about it: a world class distance runner often trains years to compete in a single race. All those miles of training and speed work point toward one thing: being able to respond to competition at critical moments in time.
Competition provides thrills and inspiration, and that is why there is a such a close relationship between business and sports. In our sports heroes we find models for achievement, overcoming odds, and yes, defeating the competition.
Gain the Competitive Advantage...And Keep It
Knowing your competitor is out there working extra hard to pass you in a race or grab that next piece of business is enough to keep many people up at night. So, the trick to staying competitive in sports, or in business, is figuring out how to gain a competitive advantage...and keep it.
Competitive advantage is not a relative term. In business, having a competitive advantage means reaching customers in ways that motivate them to buy your product or service, rather than buying that same product or service from your competitor.
Let’s imagine you pick up a key industry trade magazine and find your primary competitor on the cover. You wonder out loud, “How the heck did that happen? Their product isn’t half as good as ours.”
The truth is, your competitor’s product does not have to be better than yours to gain a competitive advantage. What they do need for a competitive advantage is a better story to tell. A compelling story constitutes a competitive advantage in today’s media market where content is king.
Content is King. Have a Great Story
Yes, it helps to have a great product. And it pays to improve your product or service and establish great relationships with your customers. But in order to maintain competitive advantage, you must communicate those attributes so that existing and new customers hear your story in a convincing way.
That can mean something as simple as creating a newsletter to share success or solution stories and information about your product to help your customers learn its benefits. Or, it can mean becoming as dynamic as having your product or service featured in prime print vehicles or websites your potential customers frequent.
Tell Your Story Better than Your Competitors
Competition is really all about telling your story better than “the other guy.” The first principle in this process is identifying aspects of your company’s product or service that are interesting or newsworthy. Depending on the business you run, those stories may be quite dry or dull to people outside your industry. What really matters is that you share your information with the people - especially potential customers - to whom it matters most.
It takes in-depth knowledge to get your story told in the right places. Unfortunately, some businesspeople find marketing, public relations and media relations a frustrating, uncertain realm. But if you want to compete, you simply must find ways to push your story out to existing and prospective customers.
Spread Your Story through the Words of Others
Sometimes the story does not rest with you, but instead resides with the success of your customers and how they use your products. Getting customers to speak up on your behalf is a huge competitive advantage. These are real people talking about real events and real results, after all! Instead of some company tooting its own horn, an editor or writer prefers to talk to people using your product or service out in the field. Furthermore, with online reviews and social media, your customers are able to post about your product instantly and at their free will. What's more, is that these online reviews are read and trusted by people looking for that same product or service, so the story that's told means everything.
Part of the art of public relations and marketing communications is introducing that story to the writer, editor or media outlet who would like to put it out there for everyone to see. It is important to leverage the positive benefits of your product or service into content that will be published in order to get your story heard. That single strategy can provide your company an important boost in the eyes and minds of people you most need to reach.
When Competition is Fierce, Learn from the Old Pros
When competition is fierce, telling your story the right way is one of the most critical and beneficial things you can do. Remember that in business, as in any sport, redirecting your energy and calling on teammates for an assist can be the most important thing you do, along with realizing that having someone to compete with is really a privilege. Even the old pros know that.
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