It’s not enough to know who we’re competing against, we have to understand how and why too.
Flip a few channels past the Super Bowl and you won’t see another football game. You will see a Sex and the City marathon. They’re competing for the same attention at the same time, but not for the same audience.
Soul Cycle says their competition is Netflix. Netflix says their competition is everything but TV. There’s a wide gap between acknowledging time spent and the reasons why a person made a choice. There’s a very different story behind each.
Competition includes but does not end with our obvious competitors. Differentiation and competitive advantages both stem from how a product or service reflects the needs it serves. Super Bowl fans are there for the drama, the commercials, and the crowning of the champion (amongst other things). Why do you think Sex and the City fans are there, particularly on Super Bowl Sunday for all or even part of a marathon?
We can ask more than “who or what are we up against?” We can ask “why and how do our customers choose us?” If we want to keep creating value or if we strive to create even more, it starts with their story of choosing us. We are looking for ways to seamlessly weave ourselves into the story they want to tell.
“This was cheaper” is nowhere near as good as, “I was so confused until I came across them and look what they did to help.” We are already a part of a story, but do we really understand what that story is? If we’re willing to pay attention and really listen, we can find out. Once we get it right, we can plan our own big games and syndicated marathons to an audience who says, “THIS. Yes.”