The Competition Is Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

Your buttercream is currently under surveillance. The competition just ate your lunch and has come back for dessert. The question is are you going to let them have your chocolate cake and eat it too? Let’s talk tough about keeping your adversaries at bay.

Competition, what competition? Banish this phrase from your professional lexicon evermore and assume that rivals are lurking everywhere. We are probably all guilty of letting our guard down due to being either disinterested or completely naive about the strength of a competitor thereby giving up market share for easy grabs. In short, we were temporarily oblivious allowing the opposition to get the better of us.

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Pink Panther Cake

The Oblivious: Which Type Are You?

Type 1 ~ The Fanatic: The dewy-eyed, just smoked the company press release types exhibiting a dainty grip on reality wavering between misguided naiveté and self-satisfied arrogance. If you fantasize that your brand has no competition due to uncontested specialness creating 100% customer loyalty, then think again. By all means, be a brand advocate but not a fanatic. Sip the corporate Kool-Aid instead of guzzling so much that critical thinking skills are impaired. Newer, hungrier competition is on the way and while your company may be the reigning glory now, the more successful it becomes the faster the opponents arrive.

Type 2 ~ The Fat Cat: Seasoned professionals quoting anecdotal evidence from years gone by then resorting to a shock and awe method of rapid customer name-dropping when they’ve been caught without any current market knowledge. Big titles create an illusion of safety and before you know it, you’ve become a corporate cliché. Reconnecting with the leaner scrappier you is probably in order if you find yourself quoting yourself too often.

Type 3 ~ The Frazzled: Barely keeping head-above-water leaders that mistakenly believe that it’s unfair to ask for her/him to manage the day-to-day and keep a keen eye on the competition too. In my experience, this is not about laziness or a lack of caring but rather a miscalculation regarding priorities. These leaders are still mastering time-management skills and unknowingly fritter precious hours on routine meetings and other administrative items, so the request of market knowledge becomes the proverbial last straw. Camel down!

I’ve spent a bit of time in each category and can attest that all offer the same humiliating and tragic conclusion. The lesson is to be highly curious about what is going on next door while you are working on creating superior value with your own team. It’s not one or the other but both.

Perhaps you have a hint about what’s going on over at Cogswell Cogs; however, your team at Spacely Space Sprockets requires a plan of action. Can you rattle off the top of your head how you suspect that your immediate competitors are attempting to out maneuver you? Do you have a plan to defend your territory by creating more value? Consider this a call to action. It’s time to develop an enhanced level of curiosity about your competition with the intent of using that knowledge to your advantage.

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.

Andrew Grove

The Competition: Developing Curiosity Bordering on Paranoia

Perhaps we’ve all read too much motivational fodder about only competing with ourselves and the self-help has dulled our streetwise spirit. Moving forward, let’s embrace that we all have competition in our respective areas and our job is to keep sticky paws out of our territory. Ideas to get you started with being more competition savvy:

  • Ask your clients. What you believe about your competition may be nothing close to what your customers think about them. We don’t always ask about impressions and comparisons because we are focused on the next transaction or we dangerously assume that we already know.
    • The SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis in your marketing plan will become meaningful in a new way as you gain better customer insights. No more assumptions, hunches and anecdotal evidence from yesteryear on your watch!
    • Consider joining your sales team for real-time client interactions. It’s an enlightening exercise for everyone.
  • Google your competitors and note the People Also Searched For. Blindly clinging to the assigned benchmarks your organization has ascribed imagining that these are the only challengers that matter may lead to unpleasant surprises. Your customers will provide a broader scope of understanding about true competitors beyond the theoretical rivals assigned in a development proforma.
  • Study Customer Survey Sites. Understand the specific items receiving less than stellar commentary. Do you know how each competitor is selling against you?
  • Sign up for your competition’s promotions and special offers and follow them on social media channels. It might be too late to compete in the moment, but you will get an idea of general strategy and determine if/how you need to respond.
  • Set up Google alerts for corporate press releases. Big brands issue this is how we are going to win market share statements by way of bragging about new initiatives. David, you need to understand what Goliath is up to.
  • Business Journals and Thought Leader Blogs for your industry. Stay ahead of disruptive trends by understanding a multitude of opinions from thought leaders. Reviewing like industries also provides interesting perspectives and may give you a heads-up as to what’s coming.
  • Visit the competition and take the press release smoker with you so he can see that your clients are not as loyal as he thought.
  • Know your counterparts. People share a lot of information that they believe to be common knowledge.
  • Study competitive analytics. The truth is usually right under our nose in a report that we have seen so many times that we aren’t really looking or the changes are too small to notice until it’s too late. Investigate until you understand what is really going on.

Being more aware of market trends and how each of your rivals is attempting to create value to gain share will make you a savvier competitor. With enhanced knowledge of existing and imminent challengers, your market share and chocolate cake will have a much better shot remaining where it belongs.

Pink Panther Cake
The Heist (note dark shadow on left)

Bettie, my miniature black panther, brazenly attempted a buttercream heist while I was photographing this cake. Thankfully she only got a sniff, which is all I hope that your competitors ever get of your market share.

PINK PANTHER CAKE

This Texas Sheet Cake Recipe will make enough for two small chocolate cakes with plenty of leftover scraps for snacking. Add coffee or espresso in place of the hot water as recommended.

Whipped Ganache Filling Recipe

Pink Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

Note: Add raspberry juice or pink food coloring to vanilla buttercream

Inspired by Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Disclaimer: The story and recipe above should not be considered advice as the readers and users of Chocolate Cake Mondays are not clients and therefore CCM is not liable for reader’s reliance on the information herein.

Published by HIRED GUN