Send your competition packing

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 8, 2003

By By Jo-Ann Power
Your competitor has just eaten your lunch. How good do you feel? Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Are you also tired of losing market share to him?
Time to do one of two things: get out of town yourself, or put him on the next stage out. But how to do that, easily, quickly, you ask.
Like the one-two punch of most solid knockouts, two steps can help you eliminate him. They are relatively simple, but take time. You've got time, though, don't you, because you don't have that market share to take care of.
Try these easy two steps and you will have less time to fret about him – and more of his lunch to dine on.
First, Know Thy Enemy. Answer all of the following questions about him. You cannot skip any of them, nor can you skip parts to the answers.
What's he got that you don't? What does he "own" in terms of public top of mind awareness? Aside from your clients, does he have a longer time in business? What kind of expertise has this brought him? How does he present that expertise to his market?
As an image statement or branding look to his marketing, does he come right out and tell folks that he is better than you because he has this expertise? How does he phrase that rather self-centered and potentially undiplomatic statement?
How many people does he have on his team, if any, who have the same expertise – or a different one?
In what ways does he market his business? Does he use all direct methods of media advertising, mail and merchandizing? Does he use only one or a few, what are they – and here's the hard part of this puppy – why does he use them?
What types of image and personal marketing does he use and what percentage of his time would you perceive he devotes to this?
Finally, add all of this together and ask yourself what he spends in people, time and money to approach his target market each year?
Not all of these are easily answered, I grant you. But observation and a few well-placed questions in the right avenues can yield you a rich field to explore.
The answers, moreover, once you look at them, will not only surprise you, but tickle you, and best of all, illuminate much of what needs fixing about your own marketing.
To be more specific that requires taking Step Two which is Know Thyself. Also known as Time To Get Real, answering these questions can clean the cobwebs from your eyeballs as you gaze in your mirror. Ready?
What expertise do you have in your business that your competition does not? How have you told your target market about this expertise lately?
What do you "own" in terms of image and branding that your competition can never claim? Longevity in this market or in this geographical location? Professional credentials which separate you from the whipper-snapper he is? Friends and associates and professional colleagues in town or the county which he can never tap as referral sources?
What can you do to round up his clientele and beat him at his own cattle rustling? How many people do you have on your team who represent you as you wish to be? How many need some retraining? How will you provide them with that education and professional growth-and how soon will you do it?
List for the past year, all direct methods of media advertising, mail and merchandizing you used. Which were the most successful in bringing in new clients? Which brought you none? How much does your average client bring to your business in one year? What percentage of your clientele are repeat customers? Therefore, how much income is a repeat customer worth to you and how much income will you lose if that repeat customer goes over to your competitor?
What forms of marketing did you use last year and for every one of them, list beside each the reason why you performed that marketing tactic. If you have no reason other than you just love to do it or it doesn't cost very much, then be honest and right that down. Nothing like looking at everything in the mirror, right?
Finally, what percentage of your time and effort last year did you devote to actively marketing to gain market share? What percentage of your time did you devote to worrying about this guy in your hen house? What does your accountant tell you you spent in real hard dollars on marketing last year? Compare this to what you estimated your competition spent? Now, which one of you had not only the lowest cost in dollars, but also the higher cost in anguish?
What kinds of changes will you make to your marketing now that you know your enemy-and yourself better?
It's almost the New Year. Almost time for that marketing business plan. No time like the present for a few changes.
Jo-Ann Power owns Power Promotions, a public relations and marketing company whose expertise is Hill Country business growth. E-mail her at