It's high noon and time for a showdown. Today we are talking competition and haters.
As an agency owner most likely at some point you'll come up against a competitor. You'll have a customer that is deciding between you and someone else. Or sometimes you'll find yourself dealing with a hater.
Sometimes your competition and the haters can get downright ugly in their efforts to derail you.
I've had competitors go to my vendors and flex their muscle in an attempt to block me out.
I've had competitors that would send in attractive girls to flirt and help swoon clients into buying their solutions.
I've had competitors get on calls or demos with me just to rip off my products and ideas then turn around and say I ripped them off.
I've had competition spread lies and rumors in an effort to throw a spoke in my tires.
When I first got started with my agency, way back when, I once had a competitor try to throw shade to a potential client by showing them that at the time I drove a beat up Camry. They stated that if I was successful and so good at marketing, I wouldn't drive that.
LOL. Not kidding. True story.
I've had competitors literally pay off staff members at businesses to incentivize them to use them instead of me (seriously gotta love the automotive world).
Needless to say... it's gotten silly at certain points of my career with competition.
It's nothing new. I just laugh and say...
Stay tuned. More to come.
When you've got something... they will eventually see you as a threat and attempt to derail you. Take it as a compliment... you were good enough for them to come after you.
I've certainly faced craziness from the competition. You will probably too. So I thought I'd write about my experiences to help you deal with those lovely competitors, prepare thyself and know how to actually kick them in the teeth and WIN.
Key #1: Become MORE valuable to your customer.
Competition is a good thing. It forces you to level up. So when a competitor increases their offering... so can you. Spending time worrying what they have out does nothing. Spending time worrying about their claims... doesn't help you much. Focus on you... and improve that. At the end of the day, you can't change what they say or do... but you can change you and your offering. That shines through to your actual market far more than stooping to their level of shenanigans.
While they spend time throwing shade, you just keep trucking and running circles around them by BECOMING MORE, so that it doesn't matter what they bring to the table in the first place. Sure, the market might shift slightly at first at their nonsense. Eventually those that got duped from that silliness, turn around and come back when they realize the other folks didn't have the goods in the first place.
The fact they had to cast shade is pretty telling they don't have much to really offer. They had to attempt to bring you down to stay relevant themselves.
I live by the philosophy of always be innovating. When you do so... they can't keep up with you. When they level their offering to yours, you've already got something better in the works already to knock them back down a few pegs.
I also like to create hard to replicate scenarios that they won't want to fight against due to lack of funds, lack of creativity / ability etc.
I love this quote: Doesn't matter who the biggest fish in the pond is... when you are a different beast altogether.
So you've got to be that different beast. Change the terms the customer's decide on. Bring more value to your customers than they do.
How can you solve more of their pain points?
Can you be better?
Can you be faster?
Can you be smarter?
Can you be leaner without hurting profits?
Can you value stack?
Can you solve hidden problems the competition doesn't know about?
Are you more flexible?
Are you more customized?
Are you niche specific?
Do you have an X factor they don't?
Nearly a decade ago, I was once in competition with a fairly decent sized marketing firm. They were the big dogs in the state and had the client I was trying to get into. I had a follow up service (before follow up was cool) and was attempting to get it into this gym franchise.
My competition didn't like me playing in their sandbox and decided to go to war with me. Instead of seeing the product was great for their client, they tried everything they could to derail me. They would get in on my meetings and try to downplay what I had. They attempted to showcase my weaknesses. Then go behind closed doors and claim the product as something they could do easily, even though they hadn't thought to bring that to the table for the past 4 years of working with them.
They had 50+ employees, all kinds of awards, certifications etc...
I had little ol' me, my business partner... and a laptop at the time.
They hit me hard on how they offered all kinds of support with their large team. They had a graphics team, support reps, dedicated account reps, etc.
Just to show how silly competition can be, this firm went as far as to go to a local business newspaper I had written regular marketing columns in and got me cancelled. They told the newspaper they wouldn't sell their ads if they didn't stop publishing my articles.
It took us longer than we had hoped, but we eventually took this company's client right out from under them. I didn't have to be nasty either. You see, while this other company touted how great it was working a large team as their asset... it actually became their downfall. They essentially hung themselves.
I didn't need approval by a committee to make decisions or changes. I was the committee. I could make changes on the fly on my own to improve the offering live. While this company had to refer to expert "A" in their organization for answers to marketing questions from the client, I was expert "A" in my company. All that silliness they tried backfired when the client found out about it from friends.
I just kept bettering myself / offering and that showed to the client. We won because of it.
Key #2: Move on, beat them in volume
One thing to remember is when you cater to the drama, you could have got new deals in the process. If you spend time worrying about what they say or do, that's time away from production. Don't play into it. Win by getting more clients. Then you'll really give them something to hate. ; )
Key # 3: Remember your inner badass.
You have value. Just because someone else has an opinion, this fancy award or that fancy staff... doesn't mean they are better than you. What matters to the client is the results you bring, not the drama.
I think sometimes we need to be reminded of that and see the haters for what they really are... weak sauce.
I mean really break it down... if you really think about it, the fact they even tried to come after you shows just how TERRIFIED they are of you. Their value was so threatened they resorted to pulling silliness to stay relevant.
Take it as the compliment it actually is. It should actually make you feel good if you think about it. You struck a nerve.
Remember what the haters really are:
YOU HAVE VALUE. Bring out your inner badass and show the world what your made of.
There's this great scene in the Watchmen movie where a prison inmate starts messing with one of the supers, Rorschach. He starts trying to bully him. Rorschach lets out his inner badass and has a great quote after teaching the guy a lesson...
"What you all fail to understand is that I'm not locked in here with you... you're locked in here with me!" What a great way to see your competition.
Don't let a competitor's attempt at silliness to challenge your ideas, personal worth or worldview. Don't let them make you feel inferior. Don't let their B.S. affect you.
Remember, they are locked in here with you too.