Posts Tagged ‘competition’

During the past 28 weeks, we’ve been exploring ways to plan, write, and promote your book. Now, it’s time to enter the final stage of the Publishing Success Cycle, Step Four, Profiting.

During the next few installments, I’ll share ideas and tips for leveraging your book into higher profits for your business.

Learning from the successes of others

As we have seen so often in the past, the starting point is to get in the habit of constantly researching the competition online, studying the websites of authors who have written books in your field.

The goal of analyzing your competition’s websites is not to copy them, but to explore ways other authors have profited from their books, suggesting ideas you can adapt for:

  • Creating information products, like reports, updates, videos, worksheets, templates, and webinars that readers of your book are likely to be interested in.
  • Developing coaching and consulting services that will help your readers implement your ideas and recommendations.
  • Building your speaker’s platform, cultivating invitations from event planners and speaker’s bureaus to deliver high-paying corporate keynote speeches, presentations, and workshops.

Research tips

Here are a few ideas to help you make the most of your explorations:

  • Look beyond the obvious. When searching for profit ideas on author sites, expand your search beyond the authors and experts in your field. Explore the websites of authors in a variety of subjects.
  • Know where to look. When you’re at their websites, explore keywords and navigation links like Products, Services, Coaching, Consulting, Assistance, To Learn More, and the like. You may also locate useful ideas in the Calendar, Press, or Media sections of their websites.
  • Expand your horizons. Look for profit ideas used by others who write books in similar fields. Look for ideas that you can be the first to offer in your field!

For example, instead of just exploring author profit ideas from authors who have written books in your field, consider expanding your research using, as a guide, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten’s The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Start by creating an alphabetical list of the authors of the 100 Best Business Books, search for their websites, and create links to the websites. Then, visit each website and explore how each author profits from their books.

Another option is to visit the archives of Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten’s 1-800-CEO Reads Top 25 Business Books of the Month to identify successful business-oriented authors and study their websites. You can go back many years, studying the most important books from different months.

Or, you can visit the Author Page of the Harvard Business Review, and similar book publishers, and track down the websites of their authors in order to study how they profit from products, services, and speaking.

Tracking the results of your research

As always, the key to success is to carefully track the results of your research, so you can easily pull-out the most important lessons.

To help Published & Profitable members and my personal coaching clients keep track of the author websites they visit, and the profit ideas they’ve gathered from each site. You can download my Author Profit Tracking Worksheet, along with previous worksheets, from Published & Profitable’s Active Garage resource page.

You’re invited to download the worksheet, and print as many copies as you need on 3-hole punched paper. Fill out the worksheets by hand, tracking each author’s products, services, and speech/presentation topics. Then, store the worksheets in a 3-ring binder.

Author profit ideas and examples

Few authors are fortunate enough to be able to ignore profit opportunities generated by their book, beyond what they earn from the initial sale of their book!

I encourage you to spend a minimum of 30-45 minutes a week studying how other authors profit from their books. For more inspiring ideas and examples of how other authors are profiting from their book, I invite you to visit my growing (22+) online list of Author Profit Ideas at http://urli.st. In fact, you’re invited to add links to your favorite author profit ideas to my online list, or you can add submit your author profit ideas below, as comments

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
Share

How do you cross thresholds in business life? This can be a daunting question. Boiling everything down to key components and making a balanced, constructive decision is the goal of a good leader. There is a drawing on both personal and group mythology to arrive at a sustainable goal.

So what’s this “mythology” stuff about? Sounds touchy-feely, fuzzy, and far removed from business. It is anything but that. It is about surviving, thriving, and protecting your business especially if social networking is important. How so?

Time to dive in and take a look

The previous blog mentioned four aspects to mythology:

  • Mystical
  • Physical
  • Sociological
  • Psychological

Here we will tackle the first one – mystical – and look at a form it commonly takes in business – Co-opetition.

Is It Really So Mystical?

The mystical really isn’t so…well…mystical, as in transcendental. It actually is very practical – close to the ground. The word “mystical” is used to describe both the awe felt and stance taken with regards to business life. This stance is based on simultaneously accepting the rough and tumble aspects of an environment that also provides opportunity to not just survive but to grow and thrive. Finding a way to balance cooperation and competition, co-opetition, is a good example.

Co-Opetition

In their classic book, Co-opetition, Brandenburger and Nalebuff apply game theory and view the business world in terms of PARTS (Players, Added value, Rules, Tactics, and Scope).  First there is a collective effort to add value and build a bigger pie (cooperate). At the same time, as the pie grows and benefits to all increase we might work to control the pie and get as much as possible (competition) without driving out needed stakeholders. Sustaining this environment is co-opetition.

Another radical idea Brandenburger and Nalebuff introduced was the concept of a complementor.  A player is a complementor when a customer values your product more when in the presence of that player’s product. Think hot dogs and mustard at a baseball game. One promotes the other.

But can a complementor also be a competitor? (Here’s where you give the classic project management answer, “It depends.”) Go beyond hot dogs and mustard and think of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, etc., and their relationships.

Is there a version of Office for the Mac? Does QuickTime run on PCs? What about Adobe and Apple regarding Flash?

Imagine describing all this to the uninitiated at a party. It is a bit awe-inspiring and finding a fundamental view for explaining everything consistently can be a big challenge… OR you might even say, It’s mystical!

Have Some Fun!

Can you see how important the mystical is? You can have some fun with this. Have a discussion with a group of friends based on the following. Imagine three people. One believes is cooperation-only. Another believes in competition-only. The third believes in co-opetition. Now, ask the question, “What paths could their businesses take?” Watch and see what you show each other about your fundamental beliefs.

Share you comments! I’d like to know what you think. In addition to commenting on this blog you can also send a response via e-mail to gwmonti@mac.com or visit www.ctrchg.com.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
Share

Should your experiences bringing products to market or providing services be added to the director’s cut of Jurassic Park?  Do critics and competition surround your brainchild like a pack of hungry raptors?  At the same time do you have to fight to maintain your position in the organizational herd?

Business, like nature, can be uncompromising in its response to your product and services. Provide what is needed and you live to see another day and get the opportunity to move your business forward. Take too big of a misstep and your business can be crippled or killed.

Darwin offers guidance in seeking opportunity, surviving, growing and thriving in a hostile environment. We will look at a tip to implement that guidance – feature management. We will also look at three signs indicating the odds of survival are decreasing.

Darwin

Darwin observed species adapting best to an environment without destroying it would have the best chance to survive. This includes dealing with threats as well as capitalizing on opportunities. This adaptation includes changing traits (evolving) as the environment changes along with predators and prey. The term he coined is “natural selection“. Without the forces of natural selection genetic drift sets in and the species risks evolving to a dead-end position. The dodo bird is a good example.

Feature management reflects natural selection with products and product development. On the other hand, genetic drift occurs in the presence of:

  • Customer’s gold plating of requirements;
  • Team’s gold plating of requirements;
  • Feature creep

Natural Selection: Feature Management

Feature management chooses among all the possibilities and selects a set of features which, when turned into a product, will meet a customer’s needs within the prescribed limits of time, and budget.

For long-term relationships product development and/or the definition of services includes the client’s need to survive, grow, and thrive. The best relationships are symbiotic with both you and the client benefiting from the product or service.

Genetic Drift

Genetic drift in product development is movement into a spot outside the boundaries set by the market. The product is essentially isolated and dies.

Customer’s Gold Plating of Products

Gold plating takes specifications beyond what is required. I experienced customer gold plating with the use of robotics in vehicle manufacturing. The client firm’s management style was heavy-handed. Being the person who was the source of a design failure would have major negative repercussions. So, a weld seam that was adequate at 1/8” width grew to 3/8” as it progressed through the client’s internal design approval process. This occurred with almost every aspect of the vehicle and the design mushroomed. The cost and time to produce increased. A competitor was able to grab market share with a vehicle of equal performance but a much lower cost- and time to produce.

Team’s Gold Plating of Products

This is typified by the engineer with a solution looking for a problem. The product is viewed as an opportunity to showcase capability that is above-and-beyond what the competition can do but has no real value in terms of enhanced performance for the customer. Again, the cost- and time to develop can increase to the point that the product or service is no longer competitive for its market niche.

Feature Creep

Apple’s Copland operating system is a good example. It suffered from second-system effect and became bloated. It also suffered from mismanagement in terms of what it would take to propel Apple out of a niche position and back  to that of a major player.

The best way to deal with genetic drift is to review all work in terms of the boundaries set by a clear functional specification, time limits, and money limits. For more on this refer back to the “Project” post in this series.

This concludes the first, seven-part series on change management. If you are as fascinated with this material and care to comment or would like more information on change management contact me at gwmonti@mac.com or visit www.ctrchg.com.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
Share

Lessons From Our Past

by Guy Ralfe on February 3, 2010

I have been riding the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Commuter rail service for 5 years and the service has not changed much in this time, but year on year the cost of a ticket rises, often more than inflation. In addition the daily parking rates received a 100% increase a year ago supposedly to help cover MBTA staff costs and yet the only way you can pay at most stations is by stuffing one dollar bills through a slot – no monthly contracts, pay by credit card etc that are commonly available in many municipal parking lots across the country.

I am moaning but I am trying to make a point here too – on February 1, 2010 a new rule has been put in place where commuters must only board where there is a conductor present. In effect about a 30% reduction in the number of places to board a train that already only has an entrance at each end of the carriage. I doubt in the history of rail service, its  origins date back to 1889, has this situation ever been the case and it is sad that our modern day educated commuter cannot let themselves on or off a train unescorted.

Most commuter systems around the world are being redesigned to eliminate the human element and to abstract the ticket management to before the actual commute, which is the prime purpose of the conductors on the MBTA. Even the T, the metro system in Boston, running alongside this same service operates with just a driver.

What I observe happening is that people with power today are making decisions because they operate in the vacuum of state/municipal organization, thinking they are immune to the consequences of the value their organization produces. At the end of the day the leaders of the MBTA are exposed to the same market pressures as any other free market business.  When the marginal utility or value does not exist passengers will consider alternative means of transport – it has happened before. When the cost of operation exceeds the value paid by customers and from the state taxes, it will draw significant attention by both disgruntled commuters and non-commuters who will see it as a waste of their tax dollars. It will not be perceived as a necessity but a problem.

Where there are problems there are opportunities… successful businesses thrive on the vulnerability of these sorts of problems. When opportunistic businesses, observe organizations entwined by their own history, they quickly swoop in with fresh ideas not constrained by the existing historical standards and cultures. Today’s impossibilities will become tomorrow’s opportunities. These options will sound welcoming and fresh to a disgruntled commuter and tax base. Although things generally move slowly in state/municipal processes once a movement starts it is hard to stop the momentum of the masses.

When this shift takes place it will become quickly apparent that even the state/municipal organizations are competing in a global marketplace irrespective of if the infrastructure is immovable such as in a train infrastructure. People and organizational practices can always be changed – it depends who holds the most compelling and valuable story at the time, which is what business is essentially. There are many transport service companies all over the globe that given the opportunity, and having no sentiment for existing established policies or traditions, will gladly start anew – possibly without a conductor or possibly one to keep all the doors open for their valued customers.

No customers  = no service, the value has to be there, and if you are not producing value with existing assets and opportunities there are a lot of companies out there determined to make better use of established assets like a rail network. Of late has been the acquisition by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the nation’s second-largest railroad for $34 Billion, their biggest acquisition yet.

Surprisingly this lesson has not been learned by the MBTA where this situation has already transpired in Boston’s Transportation History to quote

“The West End Street Railway had a virtual monopoly on all streetcar lines in greater Boston, but high profits, poor service, high fares and a general lack of concern for the public had resulted in alienation of the West End’s management from its customers. On December 9, 1897, under the supervision of the Transit Commission, a lease was entered into with the West End Street Railway by which the property of that company was leased to the Boston Elevated Railway Company”

Remember I told you so!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
Share

No publisher wants to publish a book that covers the same ground existing books cover. Likewise, no intelligent self-publisher wants to waste the family’s resources on a “me too!” book.

Thus, not only does your book have to serve your intended reader’s needs instead of your interests or your ego, your book also has to bring something new to the table.

The starting point is to evaluate the current competition. This is a task that you can easily accomplish online in two steps:

  • Step One is to locate competing books in your field. You want to know what’s already available, so you can avoid rewriting an existing book.
  • Step Two is to organize the results of your online research into a visual format that will help you position your book relative to the competition.

The procedure outlined below will help you keep track of existing books in your field and save you time identifying the ideal position for your book.

Step l: Locating competing titles

Start by creating a 4-column worksheet similar to the Competing Titles Worksheet shown at left. You can easily do this using the table feature built into your word-processing software. You can also create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel, or a mind map using Mindjet’s MindManager. (A writing tool we’ll be discussing in an upcoming Author Journey.)

As an easy alternative, to get you quickly get started, you can also work by hand using sheets of lined yellow paper, as described below:

  1. Draw 3 equally-spaced vertical lines on the sheet of paper. This divides the page into 4 columns of equal width.
  2. Add “Author/title” to the top of the first column. When entering author’s names, of course, be sure to begin with the author’s last name, followed by their first name. This will pay big dividends later.
  3. Title the second column “Big Idea.” Or, you can call it “premise” or “type of book.” The goal is to briefly describe the author’s approach to the topic.
  4. The title of the third column should be “Pros & Cons.” This is where you briefly comment on the book’s strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Add “Keywords” to the top of the fourth column. This purpose of this column is to pay attention to the Search Engine Optimization keywords associated with the title. The best book titles are those that contain the keywords readers are searching for online. The sooner you identify the keywords used with successful existing titles, the easier it will be for you to incorporate the right keywords in your book marketing and promotion.

Note that the above worksheet is not intended to include every detail about the books you locate online. Instead, it’s main purpose is to provide a handy way of seeing–at a glance–what’s already been written in your field as a prelude to positioning your book.

Step 2: Visually positioning your book

In order to position my forthcoming book apart from existing books on the topic, I created a simple Book Positioning Worksheet that you can use to position your book apart from existing books. This book will help you identify the most popular categories of existing books, so you can stake out a new territory for your book.

In my case, my goal was to help business professionals write a book that would position them as thought leaders and obvious experts in their field.

Surveying the available books in the writing field, I quickly noticed how most books fell into one of eight categories. For example, there were numerous books in the following categories:

  1. Introductory books about writing and publishing
  2. Locating an agent or preparing book proposals and query letters
  3. How to self-publish a book and make oodles of money
  4. Inside story, or “publishers are mean” books
  5. Creativity and inspiration books
  6. Editing and self-editing books
  7. Marketing and promotion techniques for authors
  8. How to make money writing books

With the competition displayed in the outer 8 boxes of the Book Position Planner, I could see that the missing book–the book that no one had yet written–was a book about book titles!

And, I was off and running! The breakthrough was being able to view existing titles as groups of titles, rather than individual titles.

In the next Author Journey, I’ll address the steps I took to choosing the right publishing alternative and the right publisher.

Offer

If you like the idea of a Book Positioning Planner appeals to you, drop me an e-mail at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com. I’ll send the first 10 who respond a PDF copy of the Book Positioning Planner shown above. (Please include Book Positioning Planner in the subject line. Thank you.)

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
Share

Branding – Branding is a balancing act

by Laura Lowell on October 5, 2009

balancing actAll too often companies find themselves with a brilliant strategy – on paper at least. When they try to implement the strategy, they run into obstacles such as channels, partners, technology, infrastructure, competition, or lack of resources. The reverse is also true. Companies can spend so much time executing that they lose sight of the business objective. They might end up with an awesome website, but no real results.

Effective brands, that is, brands that deliver on their promise and help companies sell more stuff, are those that find the right balance between strategy and tactics, between images and words, between effect and affect.  Every brand is made up of several different components:  visuals, messages, voice, and personality, for example.  Each of these is integrated into specific deliverables like a company logo or tagline or photographic style.  The trick is to find the right combination and then apply them consistently throughout everything you do.

It starts with strategy – how will you achieve your objectives?  Depending on your brand promise some strategies are going to be more effective than others.  For example, you probably won’t see Nascar investing in “environmentally-friendly” campaigns; you would expect it from Starbucks. There are lots of different ways to achieve your objectives.  Make sure that your strategies align with your brand promise and that you can actually implement them.  This is what I call the “duh” test.  Run the strategies by a colleague, friend or spouse and see what they think.  If they ask you a question and your reaction is “duh”…you might want to rethink the strategy.

Next come the tactics – what exactly will you do to implement the strategy?  If your strategy was to grow your market share by expanding into new markets, a tactic might be to partner with a complementary brand in the new market to jump start your brand recognition.  This might require a joint email campaign, billboards and local ads on radio and TV.  The key is to align the tactics with the strategy so that everything is in support of the brand.  Otherwise, you end with a lot of random activities – all of them are probably pretty cool on their own – but together they don’t deliver.

To be valuable, strategy must be practical, and tactics must be integrated. With the right balance of strategy and tactics, your brand will grow and so will your business

Laura Lowell PicThis article is contributed by Laura Lowell, Author of the Amazon bestseller ’42 Rules of Marketing’ and the upcoming ‘42 Rules to Build Your Brand and Your Business’. You can follow her on twitter at @42_rules.
Share

Fishing for Success

by Guy Ralfe on September 23, 2009

fishing for successI used to crew for my uncle, who fished in game fishing tournaments. We would launch around 4:30 in the morning and finish with a lines-up at 3:00pm which made for long, hot and tiring days especially when the tournament lasted seven days and the fish were not very hungry for your bait.

One of the ways to fish for game fish  is to first catch a live bait fish to then use it as bait for a bigger fish. The challenge is catching and keeping the bait fish alive; sometimes it would die early and you would need to go fish for another, or a shark would attack your bait and leave you with half a fish again requiring you go and fish for another bait fish. In the heat of the day when you have not had a bite for hours (sometimes days) on end, or you have lost many baits, it is hard to remain motivated about rigging up the rod and casting out to try and catch another bait fish. It was often easy to think maybe we would be better off packing up and going in to shore. It was at these times that my uncle would always insist that we put an extra rod in the water, or at least always have a hook of sorts in the water and he insisted we fished the whole open fishing period. His saying was “you can’t catch a fish without a hook in the water”.

I can still recall the time during one of these quiet periods without fish for ages we dropped a line overboard and it spooled off the reel and fell deep into the water. I got up to sort the rod out and in reeling it up we caught the elusive bait we had been so desperately trying to catch. We went on to win that tournament with a great 384 lbs Marlin caught in the last hour of the day.

In business and society today there are plenty of people telling you how little chance you have of succeeding. My personal favorite is “statistically there is very little difference between having a lottery ticket and not having one at all – so don’t buy a lottery ticket!”. What everyone fails to see is that compared to not having a ticket, having one ticket has an infinitely better chance of winning the lottery. Just like if you don’t have a hook in the water when the one fish feeling hungry comes past, your single ticket might just be the one that gets called in the lottery.

Business is social and you have to participate to build identity and trust; if you are never putting yourself out there you will never know what could happen. Put another way YOU are actually not giving people a chance to recognize you and help you.  That is not to say that what you desire, happens but by continually making offers or sounding ideas in the marketplace you create situations for yourself that didn’t exist before. That is the space that might get you introduced to someone, might expose you to some technology, might ignite a new project or it might just spark something else you never imagined. These are all big MIGHTs but invariably they offer the positive possibility that something may result. Doing nothing, means you guarantee that situation stays the same or worse you guarantee that the situation is in control and not you. Now is an important time to assess our actions and make sure we are not causing our own concerns?

As with fishing you need the bait to fish for the big game, which is where the prizes are. In a marketplace being crippled by insecurity, making a move could be the glint that  opens up future possibilities – go fish it’s a far better proposition than sitting on the shore!

I have a wise uncle who used to fish for our country that I crewed with in big game fishing tournaments. We launched around 4:00 in the morning and lines up was at 3:00pm which made for long, hot and tiring days especially when the tournament lasted seven days and the fish were not very hungry for your bait.

One of the ways to fish for big game fishing is to first catch a live bait fish to then use it as bait for a bigger fish. Apart from the small detail of catching the bait fish, this was a good strategy as your fish not only looks like the real deal but it is also gives out distress signals which attracts the type of big game fish you want to catch.

What would often be the challenge is catching the bait fish, sometimes it would die early and you would need to go fish for another, or a shark would attack your bait and leave you with half a fish again requiring you go and fish for another bait fish. Often in the heat of the day when you have not had a bite for hours (sometimes days) on end, or you have lost many baits, it is hard to get motivated about rigging up the rod and casting out to try and catch another bait fish. It was often easy to think maybe we would be better off packing up and going in to shore. It was at these times that my uncle would always insist that we put an extra rod in the water, or at least always had a hook of sorts in the water. His saying was “you can’t catch a fish without a hook in the water”. I can still recall the time during one of these quiet periods without fish for ages we dropped a line overboard and it spooled off the reel and fell deep into the water. I got up to sort the rod out and in reeling it up we caught the elusive bait we had been so desperately trying to catch. That bait from the accidental line overboard won us the tournament with a prize marlin.

In business and society today there are plenty of people telling you how little chance you have of succeeding. My favorite is “statistically there is very little difference between having a lottery ticket and not having one at all so don’t buy a lottery ticket!”. What everyone fails to see is that compared to not having a ticket, having one ticket has an infinitely better chance of winning the lottery. Just like if you don’t have a hook in the water when the one fish feeling hungry comes past, your single ticket might just be the one that gets called in the lottery.

Business is social and you have to participate to build identity and trust, if you are never putting yourself out there you will never know what could happen. That is not to say that what you desire, happens but by continually making offers or sounding ideas in the business place you create situations for yourself that didn’t exist before. That is the space that might get you introduced to someone, might expose you to some technology, might ignite a new project or it might just spark something else you never imagined. These are all big might’s but invariably they offer the positive possibility that something may result, where doing nothing, means you guarantee that situation stays the same. How is that working for you?

As with fishing you need the bait to fish for the big game which is where the prize money is. In a marketplace being crippled by insecurity, making a move could be the glint that hooks the bait and opens up future possibilities – go fish it’s a better proposition than sitting on the shore!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
Share

Where is the competition?

by Guy Ralfe on August 19, 2009

competitors

Being a Boston resident I was contemplating how Dunkin’ Donuts has dominated the regions coffee and donut market and who were their real competitors. I then happened to read an article on toolkit.com that gave a description of the various levels of competition an organization faces which was very clearly laid out in three tiers.

First Level – the specific brands which are direct competitors to your product or service, in your geographic locality

Second Level – competitors who offer similar products in a different business category or who are more geographically remot

Third Level – competitors who compete for the “same-occasion” dollars

Relating back to our local Dunkin’ Donuts shop their first level competitors are going to be any local, regional or national brand coffee & donut shops operating in the geographic area such as Honey Dew Donuts, Krispy Kreme. In so far as second level competition goes this would be other food outlets offering coffee and quick food. McDonald’s comes to mind as they added the McCafé premium coffees to their restaurants over the last two years to compete in this space. At the third level, competition is in the form of gas stations and 7-Eleven convenience stores offering a quick cup of unpretentious freshly brewed coffee on tap at self serve counters.

Looking at these three levels you will notice that at Level One you are competing on a product, service and location basis as the customer is having to make a choice about a specialty offering. At level two you are now competing on a product, timing and convenience basis. This is when Mum has to get the kids some lunch but is dying for her caffeine fix, McDonald’s with their PlayPlace and fast food provides a compelling option. The level three competition shows up when the customer was not consciously seeking a coffee but since they are available they will take one. Level Three transactions are the ones you generally can’t count on getting but they make a big difference to the bottom line for whoever is winning them.

At the end of the day we compete on value, but what is often forgotten, is that the customer determines what is valuable. Don’t forget Value is not just currency but includes all the associated costs of making a transaction such as time, convenience, situation etc.

This is relatively easy to see from a product or service point of view but how is it for you the individual? We are all competing in a global marketplace at multiple levels if we like it or not; in our jobs, our relationships, our careers and our social networks – everything that we do. Technology has continually upped the ante and today we live in a marketplace where we are not much different from the marketer for Dunkin’ Donuts, just this time the product is ourselves.

    • We compete with our colleagues in the tasks we perform to get the recognition and to get the salary increase or promotion.
    • We compete as a contributing part of our company to win business, produce a higher valued products and services in the marketplace to increase market share and profitability.
    • We compete with every individual out there that wants what you have – and never underestimate for a second how many that is.

You may not be able to see your competition, but be sure your competition is always looking out for you!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
Share