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Not in Competition

In order to be Amazing in our business maybe we should concentrate on being the best we can be, providing outstanding service to our customers rather than being obsessed about what our competitors are doing.

I had a meeting with a Recruitment agency today and was amazed at how much time they were focusing on hiding their activities from their competition and how little they were showcasing their expertise and achievements. For example they did not want to have “Testimonials” from clients on their website as everyone would then know who their clients were. The same rational was applied to LinkedIn. They would not connect with clients as other agencies would see their clients and wrestle them away from them.

Are they a bit paranoid in their thinking? Maybe they are hiding the very assets (testimonials and an ability to communicate and showcase their talent to their clients online) that would attract new business their way?

Here are some of my thoughts on competition:

  • If you are focusing on providing outstanding customer service to your clients they should have no reason to go to a competitor.
  • If your main client is Google for example, the chances are your competitors  are already knocking on their door.
  • Competition should be seen as an opportunity and not a threat. For example it gives us a chance to observe what our competitors are doing well and therefore identify ways in which we can improve our business. On the same note we can also see the mistakes that our competition make and learn from them.
  • Imagine for a second that there was no competition for your business. What might that mean? May I suggest that this could be because the business with no competition (excluding some monopoly’s of course!) may not be a viable business? It may not have a market big enough to be profitable. So maybe competition is a reminder that there is enough business out there.
  • Very few of us need to have 100% of the market to be successful. Very few of us even need 20%. So take some comfort from the fact that there is enough business out there for you and your competition.
  • Rather than hide away from our competitors good news or blog posts…we may have an opportunity to able to raise our profile by being associated with them. I am delighted to share or tweet other Career Experts great articles as it provides “valuable” content for my followers and reinforces their perception that I have great industry knowledge and provide great content. NB. I need to provide my own valuable content too.
  • Many small businesses are stronger because they make connections and building strong business relationships with their competitors. For example if I want to pitch for a large project my proposal may be more attractive if I can bring in other experts to share the workload. I have also been blessed with meeting and building good relationships with some of my competitors.  Many of them have passed me business over the past 12 months. So be aware that your competition may even a source income!

So ask yourself: Are you draining your energy fretting about the competition? If the answer is yes… STOP and start focusing on your business and being as AMAZING as you can be.

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This post is part of the HP SugarTone contest: “Making your business amazing”, sponsored by Hewlett Packard

Greg is a Social Media trainer and workshop facilitator with the Digital Marketing Institute. He has also delivered lectures and short courses for leading organisations including SureSkills, and The Michael Smurfit Business School. Greg also works with the Ahain Group as a Social Business Consultant. He believes that in order to make social media work for your business you must have a clear business goal, a clearly defined strategy and make sure that everything you do is measureable. Specialities include: Social Media Training | Personal Branding |Social Business Consultancy | Social Strategy Workshops | Interview Techniques | Psychometric Profiling | LinkedIn Training | Facebook Training | Twitter Training | Blogging | Online Video and You Tube Training | Emerging Social Media (Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+ etc.) More information at: and

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  • Cool post Greg.
    It’s interesting the amount of companies that are really paranoid about “showing” others their good stuff. Anyone could think by now that this would be a very old school approach, but unfortunately keeps happening. When they realise all the time they’re wasting, it might be too late.
    Here’s a brilliant contribution by Seth to enrich your post 🙂

  • Cormac

    Nice article Greg!

  • Good post Greg! I actually wrote about this a couple of weeks ago on my blog. My inspiration was a YouTube video I saw where Jason Fried talks about sharing information as a way to market your product. Jason suggests that you should go beyond just blogging, and actually teach others how to become your competition. Here is a link to the video:

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Cormac

  • Anonymous

    Zuly, thanks for the comment. Appreciate you taking the time to share the You Tube link.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Fred. Ahh yes Seth is the king at saying so much in a few sentences. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love this post Greg, you portray a very important message here, and it’s great to see it in “print” on Bloggertone.
    Competitors can also become our customers, our advocates, sources of income as you suggest, so they are not to be ignored, and definitely not to be seen as the enemy. And it they are the “enemy”:

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer ~ Sun-tzu

  • Great post Greg, compliments the post I had a few weeks ago

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the kind words Elaine….and the quote. Valid point

  • Nice one Greg! I think you are so right collaboration is now the new competition for small biz. This is a very important message, thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Greg.
    Yup, too much thinking on others is wasting our strategy time. Should be more focus on what we give than “what we give that is better than others”.

  • David Dupuy

    Great post Greg. I agree with everything you said. In these difficult times its so important to work with your competitors rather than against them. In this country, my trade (jewellery) spends all its efforts slagging off their competition and as a result they’re all struggling. I’d also add (to what you said) that its a good idea to join a trade association or if there isn’t one, start one. If the trade association is weak, join it and change things from the inside to make it stronger.

  • Helen Cousins

    Yes Fred, you have it nailed. If a company can’t define what’s unique and valuable about their product, then they can only compete on price. Nobody wins price wars. Prices wars are a race to the bottom and the consumer loses in the end through reduced choice and usually poorer quality and service too.This is why the marketing message is so important to pricing. To put it simply, you need to give customers reasons to justify paying your price. With discretionary spend, people buy emotionally and justify intellectually. So give them a reason to really want your product and also a logical reason to brag to their mates as to why they paid more for it.nThanks for the welcome Fred, I’m delighted to be featured here!

  • Hi Helen, Welcome to Bloggertone! Great post and very topical right now, I’ve seen so many small businesses adopt a reactive rather than proactive approach to their price setting. Dropping price is not the answer, particularly when you consider that’s the exact same approach that your competition are engaging in too. As Fred points out, the key is really examine the business and learn how to diffrenciate. Thanks for sharing, Niall

  • Helen Cousins

    Hi Niall, nSmall businesses can differentiate without spending wads of cash or discounting. For example, if you are providing B & B, free WiFi is really valued by guests and could give you the edge over your competitor. Thanks for the welcome Niall and for adding to the post!

  • Great message Helen. One of the things that I’ve found that’s made pricing easier for my clients is the realization that there are only three things any business sells – image, innovation or time savings. Any benefit that a business offers will fit into one of those three categories. Once we determine the primary value proposition – image, innovation or time savings, we have readily available buyer data to see what buyers will pay for each. I hope this helps your readers.

  • Helen Cousins

    Hi Dale, I was just thinking about a job I had early on in my career, as an Industrial Accountant in a manufacturing company. The primary product was sewage pumps (!) and there were constantly new products coming on stream, (pardon the pun). I guess the value proposition there was innovation – offering better way to pump that stuff. I am mulling over the 3 categories you suggest to see how they would apply to the small businesses I work with now. Would a restaurant fit into image perhaps? I’m not sure, but pricing is all about how you pitch it – I certainly agree with you on that. Thank you for adding to the post – you have me thinking now!

  • Helen,nnYou’re exactly right. That pump manufacturer’s value was innovation. They should have been reaping huge premiums for that innovation – assuming it was something the market valued. All to often businesses add benefits to ‘gain competitive advantage’ without knowing whether or not the buyer will value that improvement. Why? Because they fail to ask them to pay for it.nnEvery restaurant, to some degree, has image as a factor in its value proposition, as do most businesses. The key is to understand that whether the primary value proposition is image, innovation or time savings, you’re looking at a spectrum. The question is where does that business fit on the spectrum. The local diner might offer great food at an incredibly low price and little, if any, ambiance. At the other end of the spectrum you have 5-star restaurant where people a spending huge sums for the experience including great food.nnThe diner’s image is one of practicality. Their customers are interested in good food, a friendly atmosphere and affordable prices. Conversely, the 5 star restaurant’s image is ‘the place to be seen.’ Anyone who’s anyone will be there. It says “I’ve arrived!”nnWhile these are very distinct images, they are images nonetheless. Hopefully, this will make clarify my earlier comment. Continued success!

  • Helen Cousins

    Thanks Dale – I like your thinking!

  • Hi Helen, nnre do you focus more on producing quality goods and services?nnOne trend I’ve seen when selling digital products is that the higher the price, the less customer support and refund requests we get… nnIvannnnn

  • Helen Cousins

    Hi IvannSpot on! The production & sale of quality goods and services is what I focus on & can relate to. I like to see businesses being rewarded for their efforts, by reflecting the product / service value in their price. Of course, the business has to deliver & meet customer expectations every time to merit the higher price & generate repeat and referral business. It’s good to hear that your higher priced digital products are giving customers a good experience, as evidenced by fewer support requests. Thanks for sharing your experience Ivan. nHelen

  • Helen, I see issues relating to pricing with my clients regularly. I work mostly with women who run a buisness from home. Often the approach to pricing is linked to things like how much they value themselves, confidence, limiting beliefs, fear and so on. As a result many people are under pricing their services and the real value they bring to the table. I think it is vital to be aware of mindset and how it might be sabotaging pricing strategy in our businesses

  • Hi Helen,nThere is a notion that you get what you pay for in this world.nQuality, innovation, uniqueness are all great things to offer a potential customer/client. But unless it solves a problem they have, it won’t sell, in my opinion.nnPricing must also reflect the goals and dreams of the small business owner. Do they wish to work 80 hours a week, offering a mediocre product/service, or can they create a niche for themselves, and get better return for their solutions, unique product, or great service?nnEvery entrepreneur has unique qualities, and if we can hone these, we can price accordingly. Sometimes it is better to look to breaking from the pack, instead of staying in the safety of the pack or herd, and just “doing what everyone else does”. nnWelcome to Bloggertone, looking forward to part II 🙂

  • Elaine, I believe that we’re saying the same thing, simply using slightly different language. You’re right, we have to either solve a problem or help the buyer fulfill a dream or it won’t sell. I also agree that every entrepreneur has unique qualities, strengths and passions that set them apart whether they’re providing image, innovation or time savings. Indeed, many of my clients have told me that they hire me because I align the market to them rather than asking them to adapt to the market. That’s because their greatest value lies where their unique qualities, passion and strength reside.nnYou’re also right that pricing often reflects the seller’s personal goals. I have two friends, one consultant and one professional speaker, who fear that they’ll lose their edge if their not working, in my mind, an inordinate amount of time. Their pricing reflects the desire for volume. As you’ve probably surmised, not my business model. Thanks for the insightful comment.

  • Helen Cousins

    Hi AlinI have even encountered that same issue with some professional services firms that I have mentored, and the partners were indeed women. But men have issues too, (they can find dealing with losses very difficult for example).nI agree that mindset is fundamental to business success, from asking for the right price, to closing the sale, through to collecting the fee. I will addess the issue of professional service pricing in a later post.nThan you very much for raising the point Ali – it’s a good one!nHelen

  • Kudos to you, Helen, for initiating such a lively discussion. Nothing wrong with creating content for another book. 🙂

  • Patricia

    Helen, this is a great post – really enjoyed it – thank you! nnAs a relatively newbie to the entrepreneurial world, pricing certainly was one of my main areas of struggle and certainly can relate to points noted by Ali Davies below!nnI got lots of advise on this very matter before going into business – but no matter how much I intellectually reasoned things out, I personally felt it was necessary for me to directly feel the barriers I came up against before positive change happened. Guessing this is different for everyone?nnI was also fortunate that I got to meet Ali in person recently and though we hadn’t meet to discuss this point in particular, during this meeting Ali was very generous with sharing her wisdom. I therefore don’t discount Ali’s positive influence on my thinking and thank you too Helen for sharing your own insights which are equally valuable.nnLooking forward to Part 2.nnPatriciannn

  • Hi Conor, Welcome to Bloggertone & nice entrance! I agree that it makes sense to get to know the platforms well. By the way, I think you have Ms. FB wrong, you may have went to school with her, but she’s grown up to be a serious career lady, a little demanding perhaps but the potential for a real relationship is huge 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I agree Niall. It’s a fantastic medium. I guess was just trying to differentiate them and give them personas, but you’re absolutely right. Thanks for the comment!

  • Anonymous

    Ya that’s a good approach too Fred. And valid point about meeting your friends where they’re at. You see what I was pointing out was you really have to think about engaging with your customer with what interests them and excites them and this is perhaps an alternative way to identify it. I’m amazed at the amount of people who don’t really understand their customer and just push stuff out there! n

  • Anonymous

    @Niall & @Fred: interesting infographic I found on Krishna De’s blog that takes a similar approach to ‘humanising’ social media!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Elaine,nnMany thanks for the comment and the read. Apologies for the delay in replying. Moved into a new house so waiting on my sanity box (router).nnYa it’s great to explore different methods isn’t it of trying to understand the channels we use and people we target. Have you any for me?

  • Anonymous

    Leonard,nnApologies for the delay in replying! I guess LinkedIn could be your professional peers and associates. They may not be your best friends, but you admire their experience and the information they share with you and sometimes you meet them in groups to share tips and ask questions.nnWhat do you think?nnConnor

  • Harry

    Sean – Excellent tips. My recommendation is not to rely too much on PowerPoint, but focus on story telling from your experience instead. Too many people spoil their presentation by putting too much details on PowerPoint slides and just reciting it in front of the audience.

    Watch Steve Jobs presenting at Apple product introductions to learn the art of story telling.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Thanks Sian, I’m looking forward to writing for you again.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Hi Ava, glad you like the post. I always like to add famous quotes and footage of famous speeches into my presentations as this really helps bring it to life.

  • Sean_McPheat

    Couldn’t agree with you more Harry. Your audience can read, the don’t need you to cram the slides full of bullet points and then read it out to them!

  • Thanks for a great post Peter. Like Niall says I hadn’t thought about Social Media being useful for selling a business but you’ve explained it perfectly. I guess in the age we’re in Social Media is the avenue to everything

  • Peter Watson

    Thanks for the feedback guys. When selling a business, the owner wants and needs to gain as much exposure as possible. Social media is just another arm of advertising that a lot of small business owner do not consider. Hopefully if they come across my article they will change their minds.

  • Hi Peter, good article! I have social media thus I exist!

  • Hi Peter, Good serve of social media marketing. Yes you are very right that the social media is the best and important way of the small business marketing. Through the social media we can attract the customer for the selling our product . Thanks for sharing.

  • Fantastic posts! While utilizing credit card payments for your accounts receivable process is a good way to speed up how fast you get money from your customers, there are some specialized fees and risks involved with accepting plastic. This is a great resource for clarifying just what all of the terms in the fine print mean!

  • intouchcrm

    Hi Peter, great post! As you mention, Social Media is a must for every business irrelevant of its size. However, with social platforms constantly updating their algorithms it could be rather tricky to get your posts seen. These days, the fact that someone has liked your page doesn’t necessarily mean that they see your content. Have a look at this post on our blog on Edge Rank and How to Get Your Content Seen: I hope that helps some of you!

  • Gabby S. McNeils

    This is actually really helpful. I always thought that all my fans see the posts i put on facebook. Thanks for sharing Intouch!

  • intouchcrm

    Glad to hear you liked it Gabby!

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