How to beat the competition

By February 12, 2010blog, most popular

Yesterday I had lunch with a really great local publisher who was debating on whether to try to match what their much-larger competitors were paying in upfront advances to their authors. And in order to do so they would need to “leverage” their financial resources which would affect the business in many ways.

I asked what they uniquely bring to authors that was as important to them as the upfront advances. Which then brought out a whole list of cool things like flexibility on licensing, exposure to a unique customer list, a more holistic publishing philosophy, and more.

So why do we copy when we can be uniquely better for the customer in so many other ways? Over the years I’ve had many discussions with entrepreneurs in completely different industries that go something like this:

“My competitor is doing this.”
“We should do that too.”

“My competitor TOTALLY copied us on this”
“Those *#!*#! We should send them a legal nasty-gram.”

The reality is that customers are typically attracted to us by what we UNIQUELY do well for them. Unfortunately, what I see happening in MOST industries is this copy-cat mentality that forgets to focus on what the CUSTOMERS really want.

Why do we all copy so much then? I believe it is a human instinct that we assume that everyone else has done their homework and must know what’s working best. Why waste the energy and do the hard work on being unique when we can just copy others.

The ironic part is that I believe most of us deep-down want unique authentic experiences and love to be inspired by companies that can provide that.

So I say let’s stop looking at what the competition is doing and have MORE fun discovering what customers uniquely want that they are not getting right now from others. It’s more challenging, more fun, and makes the world a much more exciting place.

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