Where does your strategy come from?

If you’re spending most of your energy looking at the competition, then I argue that:

  • By definition, you’re behind.
  • There are several others who probably “own” that space more than you do.

Don’t get me wrong: You need to be aware of competitive moves, and incorporate what you see. It’s just a lousy way to direct your strategy.

I saw this all the time in the tech world. We would be developing products which would hit the market maybe a year away. And we’d justify it by comparing our FUTURE specs against the competition’s CURRENT products. We’d applaud our ingenuity and forward thinking.

The flaw in that logic? A year is a long time in the tech world, and the competition would be advancing at pretty much the same rate as we were. It was rare that, in the end, we would actually leapfrog them as intended.

This happens all the time in other industries as well. A competitor announces that they now have financing available, so customers start asking you if you have it too. So you scramble to add that to your offering.

Six months behind the competition, and it’s just the minimum offering rather than doing anything inspired.

You’re following, not leading.

Getting out of this rat-race involves a deeper understanding of your customers, combined with creativity and the powerful force of your mission.

  1. WHY do your customers need a financing option? What’s the deeper need behind that?
  2. Does your MISSION tell you that financing would be great or a bad thing to do? Or maybe it doesn’t relate to this particular issue at all.
  3. What would be a more POWERFUL way to address the need than what the competitor is offering? What could make the financing option totally irrelevant?

Each step builds on the previous, so it’s best to do them in this order. Don’t get your plans boxed in by the competition until you’ve gone deeper.

Otherwise, you’re just following.