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14 How to Thoroughly Spy On Your Competition

Okay, maybe spy is a little strong but experience tells me that most small businesses don’t know much at all about what their greatest competitors are up to when it comes to marketing.

I know you don’t really have any competition because you provide such a superior product and experience, but setting up a competitor specific listening station can uncover some useful insights.

Why competitive research matters

  • In the first place, you might very well learn that your competitors are doing little and that simply upping your inbound marketing efforts could pay immediate dividends.
  • You might also learn, as I’ve seen countless times, everyone in your industry is doing and saying basically the same thing. Use this wake-up call to find and communicate something truly unique.
  • By thoroughly keeping tabs you could gain a valuable understanding of their weaknesses. Quite often these come through as customer service issues and complaints and can arm you with information that could help you determine messages that amplify your particular strengths as they relate to areas of your competitor’s weaknesses.
  • Lastly, you may actually pick up some tremendous ideas about how to make your business better by taking a tactic here and a tactic there and adding your secret sauce to them to improve your overall marketing effectiveness.

Your competitive research plan

Follow some or all of these items in an effort to build your competitive listening station.

  • Set-up alerts in services such as Mention or Talkwalker for the names of companies and individuals you compete with.
  • Create lists to monitor their social activity on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook spend a little time researching their brand on BrandMentions
  • Do a little research on what content is drawing shares and links using a tool such as SharedCount or Topsy
  • Subscribe to their blogs using tools like Feedly or Feedbin
  • Get on every one of their email lists. Use tools such as to automate your research by doing things like storing competitors’ email campaigns to Dropbox or Evernote for easy retrieval and analysis.
  • Download all published ebooks, research, and white papers. Use advance Google search to find all the PDFs on their domain – do this search to find them – filetype: PDF [competitor domain]
  • Enroll in all content series, events, and webinars
  • Find and follow their YouTube channel
  • Find and follow their Slideshare decks
  • Subscribe to their Yelp RSS feed – this way you can monitor their reviews
  • Research their pay-per-click advertising using a tool such as SpyFu
  • Study their SEO efforts using tools like the MOZ opensiteexplorer or SEMRush to find out who links to their sites and what phrases they are optimized for in search.
  • Find out where their executives speak and what conferences they attend.

When you automate as much of the above list as possible you simply do an occasional deep-dive analysis and then semi-occasional check-ins to keep up to date on any new opportunities.

Transcript of How to Edge Out Your Competition by Being Uncopyable

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John Jantsch: You come up with this great, new invention or innovation, and you’d go to market, and then like within a week, somebody copies it. That’s a problem, isn’t it? What you need to do is learn how to be uncopyable, and that’s what we’re going to do on this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. I visit with Steve Miller. He’s the author of a book called Uncopyable. No more commodity for you. We’re going to make your business a star. Check it out.

Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto, and to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Steve Miller. He is a consultant, speaker and author, including the book we’re going to talk about today called ‘Uncopyable: How To Create An Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition’. Steve, thanks for joining me.

Steve Miller:  Hey John. Thanks a lot. I appreciate the invitation.

John Jantsch: I’m going to let you do kind of a response to something I hear all the time. “I sell blah, blah, blah, and everyone has the same blah, blah, blah. How in the world am I going to differentiate?” I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from people selling stuff that they think is just a commodity.

Steve Miller: Yeah. That’s so true now because, and it’s technology’s fault quite frankly because … In fact, you and I were just laughing because of we’ve been around this for so long. Back when I used to have a real job, and you do go into production and build things, a lot of times, you had an advantage over the competition, and the advantage was that you had a little bit of time before they could catch up with you or copy what you were doing. Over the years, technology has turned it into where it is really hard to differentiate yourself from your competition with just your product or even your services, and so we hear these complaints.

You and I both hear these complaints all the time from people saying, “Guy, I come up with a new idea, and gosh, the competition just grabbed it and copied it right away. How do I separate myself?” It’s kind of how this whole thing got going with me as a consultant, was because I saw this happening a number of years ago, and ultimately developed into my book. What I try to explain to people is that they’ve been fighting and competing under the same unwritten rules for so many years, and the unwritten rules are that you compete by product, service and price. As you all know, if your products or commodities, and the customer can’t really see a huge difference between your services, well then, it boils down to a decision of its price, and nobody wants to fight that battle to the bottom, but unfortunately, most people, that’s what they do.

John Jantsch: I always tell people, “There’s always going to be somebody willing to go out of business faster than you.”

Steve Miller: Yeah. I actually heard you say that once, and I thought that was really hilarious.

John Jantsch: I have said it many times on this show as frequent listeners will attest.

Steve Miller: Yeah. Yeah.

John Jantsch: What’s interesting is, when they do find that way to differentiate, especially a way that is valuable to somebody, then price really goes way down the list, doesn’t it?

Steve Miller: In fact, in my opinion, if it’s done right, price kind of just goes away, because the people are recognized that what you have, I mean, what they’re going to pay you for what you have is far less than what they feel they’re going to get back.

John Jantsch: Think about all the people that are out there, that all the companies out there kicking themselves going, “I can’t believe it. Those guys do blah, blah blah, and our product is clearly better. Our service is clearly better.” I mean, so what do you attribute that to, because I think everybody could almost pick a category and say, “Why are these guys, what do they do that nobody else is doing?”

Steve Miller: First of all, I find it really hard to believe that … I mean, I get it. When we have our own product, it’s our baby, right? It’s our company. Of course, our product is better, and of course our service is better.

Why can’t the customer just see that, right? I think that in a lot of those cases, it’s probably that they really aren’t that much better, but clearly, somebody has done it, either you had done a better job of marketing or they have created what I call the ‘Attachment with the customer’, to where the customer that they become so attached to you, that they feel they would lose if they leave. That’s kind of what the uncopyable philosophy is all about, is to develop that relationship where it’s not loyalty. It’s attachment. Those are different things, because satisfied customers leave all the time.

John Jantsch: Yeah, so there’s a … I don’t know if this qualifies as a quote in the book, but a line in the book that I so agree with and I think people don’t get this idea. I want to get to your, because I’m sure people will start saying, “Okay. How do I do this? How do I make myself uncopyable?”, but competition doesn’t breed innovation. Competition breeds conformity, and gosh, I found that to be true.

Steve Miller: Yeah. Yeah, and that has been kind of one of my mantras for many, many years that, because when I talk about that we tend to be commoditized, it’s within our world, within our marketplace. I like to use the example of things like hotels. How many hotels right now have a curved shower rod? The answer is all of them.

They all have curved shower rods in the bathrooms, right? A few years ago, and it really wasn’t that long ago, Westin Hotels installed curved shower rods in their hotels, thinking, “This is going to be a great differentiator from us.” All the other hotels were watching, and they said, “We can do that too.” Right? That’s what happens, is that we are in our own little marketplaces.

This is the box that we all talk about, and we are in there, and we’re all just staring at each other. When we stare at each other and somebody comes up with something that is typically better, not necessarily different, we just say, “We can do that, but we can do it better.” Then, the person across the other side of the box is looking at you saying, “Oh, we can do that, but we can do that better.” It just turns into this vicious cycle of everybody’s copying each other, and so as a result, that type of competition does not breed any type of innovation. It breeds conformity, and when you just stare at each other all day long, you will never come up with new ideas.

John Jantsch: It’s amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with business owners and showed them, “Look, everybody’s saying the same thing. That’s our opportunity.” Instead, I get the, “Nobody, no other accountant wears purple shirts. Why would we do that?”

Steve Miller: That’s right. That’s exactly right.

John Jantsch: It’s almost like they’re afraid of it, and I think it’s a real opportunity, isn’t it?

Steve Miller: It’s a tremendous opportunity, because it’s like I see … I mean, I’ll say to people, “Look, what’s the most popular roller coaster in the world?” Eventually, people start to figure it out, but for the most part, they start thinking about, “Oh, these big, high roller coasters that if you don’t blackout two or three times, then it wasn’t any fun”, and when the bottom line is, it’s Space Mountain. Space Mountain is just a roller coaster. In fact, it’s not even a great roller coaster.

It’s just an average roller coaster, and what Disney did was they said, “You know what? Everybody else just has these roller coasters that are sitting outside, and people ride them, and they’re fun, but I’m going to have something that people, that they don’t get anywhere else”, and so, he created Space Mountain, and they don’t even call it a roller coaster.

John Jantsch: One of the things that, and this kind of gets at my people are afraid to be different sometimes, I think one of the things this takes, and you talk about the uncopyable mindset, so that’s got to be the starting point, doesn’t it?

Steve Miller: Right.

John Jantsch: Explain to us what that is.

Steve Miller: Yeah. It is the starting point, and I actually learned this a number of years ago from a couple of pretty smart people. When I was a kid, my dad was the co-inventor of the 8-track tape player. I think for most of your listeners, they’re probably going to have to go look that up. It wasn’t dad who taught me this.

It was that they decided when they were going to manufacture this, they were going to manufacture it in Japan, and back in the ’60s, made in Japan was, it was a piece of junk, but there was this American who was consulting for Toyota at the time, and helping them to develop cars with high quality, and his name was Edwards Deming, and so dad and his other partners hired Deming to come in and work with them on creating this, a quality 8-track. As a kid, as a young teenager, my dad thought it would really be fun to just drag me along to some of these dinners with these guys and stuff, totally ignoring the fact that I was a teenager who had no interest in being around these other people whatsoever. Deming is now very, very famous, and one of the things that he used to talk about in his Total Quality Management Theory was benchmarking. We just talked about that a little bit, because benchmarking is, basically means to watch the competition, but the essence of benchmarking is that you watch the best, and you study best practices, and then you emulate within your own context. Now, one of the things that Deming stressed though, which is what’s missed by a lot of companies, is that he said, “Look, you can’t just benchmark your competition, because again, you’re not going to come up with new ideas by benchmarking your competition. You benchmark them just to see where you stand in the industry, but when you want to get new ideas, you have to leave your planet and go study aliens.” In other words, get out of your box and go study aliens who are completely unrelated to you. Then, when you study them, now you start to see things that you can steal from them, and I call it ‘Stealing genius’. That’s the technique that I use, and you go study ideas from them, and you bring it back into your world, and it’s brand new.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business, and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits. That stuff’s hard, especially when you’re a small business. Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies, and I always felt like a little, tiny fish, but now, there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto, and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

One of the things you mentioned was this connection, because again, I think a lot of people are thinking, “Oh, I just need to make this new twist on my product or this new way that we go to market”, and I especially watch millennials, because I have four daughters that fit in that age group, and they will spend their last dime to be entertained by a company. In fact, some of them won’t do business with a company if that company doesn’t have smart marketing and a good experience, and so I think that that idea that the real innovation that a lot of people are missing is in creating a better experience.

Steve Miller: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. The great examples, the fact that you mentioned you had four daughters, I have one daughter, and so I assume you’re familiar with the American Girl Store. The American Girl Store did exactly that.

Let’s start with the fact that it’s just a doll store. I mean, that’s really all … All it was all about was selling a doll, but they decided that the dolls would have stories, so the dolls had stories, and in the early dolls were historical dolls based on different eras of American history. My daughter’s was Tiffany, who was the American Revolution. She has authentic clothing for that.

They had books that you could read about the doll, but they would be based in actual Revolutionary War events, so she learned about the Revolutionary War. Then, when you take your daughter to the American Girl Store, they had a restaurant, they have a beauty salon. I’ve heard they’ve even started having a tattoo parlor. I’m not sure about that, but lots of different ways for the girls to experience a doll, right? I think that that’s one of the early really great examples.

Those guys in Disney obviously, but of exactly what you’re talking about. They want to be entertained, and it’s more than just the product.

John Jantsch: Let me throw into your story. We had all of those, and I think I was $1,200 or so poorer after purchasing some of those.

Steve Miller: Easily.

John Jantsch: We had a dog that found one of the dolls and chewed an arm off, and so we looked up, “Gosh, how do I get this fixed? We’ve spent all this money on it”, and so they have a hospital.

Steve Miller: Yeah. They don’t get broken. They get sick.

John Jantsch: We sat their doll to the hospital, and it was going to be about a two-week process, and about halfway through, my daughter gets a letter from the doctor saying how … I can’t remember the doll’s name, but how the doll was doing. Then, when we got the doll back, there was a full report of how she did, and what happened, and it was unbelievable.

Steve Miller: Right. Yeah. If you’d actually taken the doll to the store, you would have actually gone in, and you’d had to checked her in to the hospital, and somebody in a nurse’s uniform would have come out with a wheelchair for the doll. This is actually what they do. I mean, it’s a fantastic learning experience for those of us that are stuck in our worlds, is to go study those aliens that we have no relationship to.

I mean, I can’t tell you, I’ve had construction … I took Caterpillar to the American Girl Store, and Caterpillar came up with a ton of new ideas for connecting with their marketplace and connecting with the drivers of their vehicles and things like that, and it was just a blast watching these men walk around with notepads and cameras.

John Jantsch: There’s another thing that you suggested. I’ve always felt that this is something that even the smallest of businesses could do, because I think a lot of times, when we use the word ‘Branding’, we immediately lose some small business owners because they immediately think of Procter & Gamble, or Toyota or whatever as a big brand, but I think it’s available in just about every market.

Steve Miller: Yeah. Yup.

John Jantsch: One of my secret weapons over the years has been this idea of owning a word.

Steve Miller: Yeah.

John Jantsch: I think that what’s nice about that is it gives you a filter. It’s like, “Is that our word? Are we living our word? Are we being true to our word?” I think as much as anything else, it actually helps you from just being a scattered brand.

Steve Miller: I think that there’s, yeah, there’s a lot of confusion about the word ‘Brand’, and what I try to explain to small businesses in particular is that it’s probably more important for them, because it’s what is actually going to help separate them, and so like you say, that’s exactly right. Of course, probably the most famous example is Volvo. They own the word ‘Safety’, and if they were to ever start building cars that were not safe, they would destroy their brand, and I think for small businesses, when you can take ownership of something like a word, and then you embody it, and you run with it, and you’re selling that to your marketplace, then they attach that word to you.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Years ago, and I put this everywhere, but I wanted to own the word ‘Practical’, because I saw a lot of stuff out there that was pitched at small business that wasn’t very practical, and obviously that’s, if anybody’s going to associate anything with Duct Tape, it would probably be practical, and so that was kind of my embodiment of that word.

Steve Miller: Yeah.

John Jantsch: The subtitle of my book was ‘The World’s Most Practical Small Business Book’ or something like that, and like when I get introduced on shows, “He’s known as the most practical”.

Steve Miller: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Of course, that was, I called myself that.

Steve Miller: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

John Jantsch: I think that idea of owning a word just made it simple because then, a lot of cases where, if somebody would say, “Oh, have you seen this new tool?”, and I was like, “That’s not a practical tool for small business, so I’m going to pass.”

Steve Miller: Right.

John Jantsch: That to me is one of the beauties of it, is because we’re so attracted to, “Oh, we can do this, or we could do that”, and I think owning a word or having that word be your thing allows you to stay based, where you should stay.

Steve Miller: That’s a really good idea. I mean, I do talk about that in my book about selecting, understanding that if you select something like a word, you can use that to connect with your marketplace, but I think at that also, exactly what you just said, it grounds you, and it keeps you kind of on point when there are shiny objects all around us.

John Jantsch: When I started, there were about five ways to get your word out, and they’re now about 50, and I think that’s actually been the source of a lot of stress for small business owners. It’s like, “I can’t do it all”, and I think the point is you probably don’t need to if you have a good strategy.

Steve Miller: No. That’s exactly right. I mean, it’s like even, people say to me, or people will ask, “What about social media? What should I do about social media?”, and I just tell them, “First of all, find out which one your customers are using. Don’t go just using one if they’re not on it, and just pick one, and use that.”

John Jantsch: Steve, where can people find out more about your work and obviously pick up a copy of ‘Uncopyable’?

Steve Miller: Obviously, the book is on Amazon. It’s done really, really well. I’m just blown away by how well it’s done since it’s coming out, and just nothing … I’m going to jinx myself here because I’m going to say that it has nothing but five-star reviews, and my wife is just totally paranoid that somebody is going to come up with a four-star review, but …

John Jantsch: Tell her the research suggests that 4.6 is actually more believable than five, so you really need that one or two four-star reviews.

Steve Miller: Okay. I’ll tell her that. Sure. She can hear it when she listens to this, but obviously, you can get the book there. You can connect with me at my website, which is, but in addition to that, following along was exactly what we were just talking about, about how branding is so important for small businesses. If you go to, one word, you can pick up … I’ve got a white paper for you. Real quick little read, it’s got three speed branding tips for small businesses, so …

John Jantsch: Awesome, Steven. We’ll put that link in the show notes for those of you listening as well, so you can just click away on it. Steve, appreciate you coming on the show, and hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road someday.

Steve Miller: Hope so, John. It was a pleasure talking to you.


How to Edge Out Your Competition by Being Uncopyable

How to Edge Out Your Competition by Being Uncopyable

Marketing Podcast with Steve A. Miller
Podcast Transcript

How to Edge Out Your Competition by Being UncopyableThis week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Steve A. Miller. Miller is a consultant, speaker, and author. His most recent book, Uncopyable: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition, is about how small business owners can create an uncopyable relationship with their clients to keep them coming back time and again, and it’s what we discuss here on the podcast.

Miller founded The Adventure LLC over thirty years ago, and has served as a consultant for many global brands, including Proctor & Gamble, Nordstrom, and Coca-Cola.

He has spoken at over 1,500 conferences and workshops, and has contributed to numerous publications including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week.

Questions I ask Steve A. Miller:

  • What is the uncopyable mindset?
  • How do you innovate to create a better experience for your customers?
  • How can owning a word help you define your brand?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to make your customers stop caring about price
  • The difference between loyalty and attachment
  • Why competition doesn’t breed innovation, it breeds conformity

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Steve A. Miller:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto! Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for modern small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited-time deal. Sign up today, and you’ll get 3 months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

6 How to Avoid Competing on Price Alone


photo credit: Small Town Snails via photopin (license)

Without understanding and defining your true core message, people are going to compare you to your competition on price alone.  This is a tricky situation to be in.  Sure people want the best deal possible, but they also want to be taken care of.  They want to buy from companies they can get behind.  They want to understand the purpose.

Here are two important elements to focus on while developing your core message:

  • A true core difference – do the research and make sure none of your competitors are preaching the same thing
  • An idea that resonates with your clients – take the time to understand what your clients love about you and develop your core message from there

Doesn’t sound too difficult right?  Below are 4 easy steps to break down the important elements and how to avoid competing on price alone.

Learn what your competitors are preaching

Time to kick off the research!  Visit your top 5 competitor’s sites and read through their “About Us” pages.  Copy and paste the overview from the about page and put them all in one document.  Do the same for your site.  Go through and read the descriptions and highlight some of the common themes you see throughout each.   I am guessing “great customer service” and “years of experience” might be mentioned in a few of them.  Take it one step further and delete any mention of the companies names in your document.  Pass it around to members of your team and see if anyone can correctly identify your description and each of your competitors.  This alone might be an eye opening experience.

Give your competition props

It’s now time to spy on your competition.  Set up a listening station to keep tabs on what you competitors are doing.  Everything from monitoring social media to signing up for their newsletter to tracking keywords.  Understanding what your competition is doing, what works for them, will provide you with a bit of direction.  I am not saying copy your competitors marketing efforts, simply suggesting you might be able to learn from what they are succeeding at.  They wouldn’t be focusing on gaining 1000s of Twitter followers if it wasn’t paying off on some level.

Listen to the people that matter the most

Your clients are the most important people to your business.  Take the time to listen to them, show them you care, and learn from them.  Sit down with 10-15 of your best clients (most profitable and refer you the most) and interview them.  Ask them about their experience with your company and how you can make it even better for them.  Take their feedback and continue to improve but also use it to develop your core message using words that actually resonate with the people you serve.

Here are a few of my favorite questions:

  1. Why did you choose us in the first place?
  2. Why do you stay with us?
  3. What do we do that others don’t?
  4. What could we/our products/services do for you that we don’t?

Communicate your difference

You have taken the time to do the research.  It’s now time to create your core message –  this message should be a short statement that becomes your marketing message workhorse.  Commit to it, stick to it, and resist the desire to change.  It may develop over time, however, the core statement should be something you are proud to preach over the years.

I would love to hear from you.  What is the core message you are ready to commit to – one that will help your clients understand your purpose?

Sara HeadshotSara Jantsch is the Director of Community at Duct Tape Marketing.  It is Sara’s job to see to all the little things that make our community members feel appreciated, informed, special and looked after.  She is also a Marketing Consultant and has a strong passion for working with small business owners.  Connect with Sara on twitter.


15 How to Get Your Customers to Compete With Each Other and Why You Should

So, I’m thinking the title of this post may have brought you here out of curiosity if nothing else, but I assure you the following concept possesses immense opportunity for the creative thinking marketer.

customer competition

photo credit: JanetandPhil via photopin cc

Management consultant and author Peter Drucker famously coined the phrase, “What gets measured gets done.” While I agree with this completely I would offer an enhancement – What gets measured gets done, but what gets measured and reported gets done exponentially.

Let me ask you this. Are your clients getting the absolute greatest results possible? Sure, a lot of that depends on their actions, but what could you do to get them to take greater action?

I was visiting with some brilliant marketers this past week as they explained the power and pull of competition when it comes to helping their clients achieve results.

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept. A weight loss guru holds a competition to find the person who can lose the most weight and in the process hundreds of her clients achieve far greater results due to the competition and requirement of reporting their progress than they would have had they simply enrolled in a program and hoped for results.

Think about that for a bit. When clients have an incentive to report the progress they’ve made by following your program or using your product, they actually participate far more actively and experience far greater results.

How could you get your clients to compete with each other for their own benefit?

The measured and reported model presents a profound opportunity for just about any type of business. The trick is to focus on the actions you know will allow them to get better results.

Perhaps it’s making a game out completing training videos, creating a contest for getting required documents to you on time or setting up a way to measure their progress using your product against all other product users.

Think about the power of communities that currently use tools like Map My Run to measure and track fitness, but also to report progress to friends and other community members.

Here’s the starter question: Can you find a reason to bring your customers together in a way that incentivizes them to measure and report the results they are getting with your products or services?

Here’s an example: A group of business owners join your eight week coaching program and are first asked to set goals and then measured and graded on the progress they make in pursuit of their goals. At the end of the program the participant who makes the greatest progress receives a refund on the program.

One of the simplest ways to get started is to pool a number of clients and get them to compete based on results or progress. Offer a refund or some over the top prize for the greatest progress.

You can take this approach and create a referral competition based on amount of referrals as the basis for measurement.

Of course if you have the right kind business and a little creativity you can simply hold a competition as a way to stimulate product sales in the first place. Buy X product during the month and tell us what it’s done for you and we’ll pick one winner each month to win Y.

The community building aspects of this idea are intriguing as well. You could start a Facebook Group based on your competition and watch your customers start encouraging, aiding and supporting each other in pursuit of their stated and reported progress.

I think this is one of the missing ingredients in so many businesses. No matter how great your training, consulting or product is, if you can’t get people to do what’s in their best interest, you can’t help them achieve a result.

Anything you can do to help your clients get actual results will benefit your business in incredible ways. When your clients measure, report and achieve greater results they’ll talk about you and the results you helped them gain.

Sometimes in the service of a client you must do everything you can to cajole, trick or otherwise coax them into getting a result.

And few things get people to take action like the accountability of competition.

8 So You Think You’re Different?

Being different, or more accurately, having a point of differentiation that matters to a market, is one of the most critical marketing strategies for the small business.

Intentionally finding and centrally communicating that point of difference is what sets the truly successful business apart from the businesses relegated to compete on price.

See, the market must have difference, a point of reference with which to compare competing businesses – that’s how decision are made. So if you don’t give them something that makes you uniquely suited to serve their needs, they will fall back to the only measurement of difference you do have – price. And, as I’ve said often – price is a terrible place to compete because there will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you.

But what makes you different? That’s the question small business owners have a tough time with because, at the end of the day, people are a little uncomfortable really being different. So, they hang their hat of things like “solution driven blah blah” and “superior customer service” and “unique set of fill in the blank” that everyone in their industry is saying.

Don’t believe me? I dare you to take the “Sameness Test.” Go to the website of your top five competitors and copy and paste the first paragraph you find there onto a blank page. Now add the first paragraph from your site. Then black out any reference to company names and pass this document around your office and see if anyone in the office can pick your site out or identify any competitor. It’s my experience that this will probably make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Use this Sameness Test as motivation to step out and really identify some way for you to create, perfect, and communicate, in the simplest terms possible, how your business really is unique.

Don’t know where to look? Ask you customers, research your industry around the world, look for opportunities presented by your competition. You don’t always have to be the first one to create a revolutionary innovation in your industry to be different. Sometimes it’s enough to package your services differently, approach a niche market differently, price your products differently, add services to products, add products to services, create outrageous guarantees, or add some truly remarkable habit to your sales and marketing process.

Just know this, it’s OK to be different, in fact, it’s the only way you can grow.

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