A Competitive Strategy Exercise
by Mike Brown
A tenacious competitor can seem as daunting as a summer heat wave which won’t break for anything. If that describes your competitive strategy position, it can be difficult to devise an innovative strategy to win new business from a tough competitor.
There is a creative way to swat back a competitor, however, which takes its inspiration from another summer reality: mosquitoes. Just as a mosquito, despite its small size, can be a nuisance, you can do the same to a larger competitor!
Start with the profile you have on your competitor which should describe the competitor and its strengths, strategic focus areas, and overall direction. Add to the competitor profile your antagonist’s “dirty little secrets,” i.e. the problems it doesn’t want customers to know about, but are familiar to you within the industry.
Based on the specific intelligence in the competitor profile, start thinking creatively and strategically about how you can bite away at your competitor, generating ideas to really be a nuisance. Don’t worry about practicality; write down anything that comes to mind, no matter how outlandish, which could:
- Exploit your competitor’s weaknesses and take business
- Distract the attention of your competitor from its current strategy
- Think of an outrageous or funny claim you could make about the competitor
- Annoy your competitor in innovative and maddening ways
You can do this exercise by yourself, but as you might have guessed, it’s a lot more fun and yields many more innovative ideas when you do it with a diverse team inside your company. Be sure to include salespeople because they have to directly deal with the competitor every day; that leads to great innovative ideas.
After you’re done generating ideas, step back and evaluate how you can pursue the most strategically innovative ideas. Don’t dismiss really outlandish ideas outright. If there’s one idea that spurred laughter or excitement, even if you think it’s a crazy idea, ask how the idea could be made more strategically feasible.
Besides stretching your thinking, this strategy exercise to identify how to be a nuisance to your competitor should generate innovative, implementable strategies to help you compete more successfully. It should also create a greater sense of competitive surprise, biting the competitor before it even knows it – just like those pesky mosquitoes!
Mike Brown is an award-winning innovator in strategy, communications, and experience marketing. He authors the BrainzoomingTM blog, and serves as the company’s chief Catalyst. He wrote the ebook “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” and is a frequent keynote presenter.