April 5, 2018

How to identify, then crush, your fiercest competitor

Name two of your competitors.

You probably missed the fiercest one.

Let me explain. Prospects, the people you want to do business with, are already doing business with Other Guys. (Let’s call them the OGs).

You can’t magically invent new human beings, so your challenge is to overthrow existing loyalty, to steal customers away from those OGs. It’s never easy. First off, you need awareness. People have to know you exist. Next, you need differentiation from the OGs to separate your brand.
Imagine for a moment your Brand Story (on second thought, let’s not call it your BS) versus two visible, credible competitors: Alpha claims it’s “better” than you, offering some benefit you don’t. Beta claims to be the “low-cost provider,” cheaper than you.

Here’s the jackpot question: Which fierce competitor will your desired prospects choose … almost every time?

And the answer?

It’s a trick question. The most frequent choice (by far) will not be You. It will not be Alpha. It will not be Beta. Your prospect will choose your fiercest competitor: NotToChange.

There’s more than brand loyalty at work here that selects NotToChange 97% of the time. Sure, it’s extremely tough to be a head-to-head competitor to Apple, Weber Grills, Harley-Davidson or Kindred Restaurant. Power brands earn their almost-cult status and repeat business.

What’s a force even more powerful than loyalty? What solidifies NotToChange as the #1 choice? (Momentum of repeating) crushes (bother of changing). Inertia > initiative. Habits repeat and repeat: again today you put on your left shoe before your right, right?

Every banker, for example, knows customers won’t close their accounts unless there’s a major life change or a big service screwup. Same goes for cable TV service, dentists, plumbers, lawn care and insurance agents. “More trouble than it’s worth” is the 97% rule, not the exception.

NotToChange has greater, deeper loyalty than any brand I know. It saves people from what Emerson called “the vexation of thinking.” Change takes effort. Inertia, fortunately, works powerfully in your favor once you win someone over from a competitor. It’s far easier to keep a customer than to win one.

So, now we see the target. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re
• a lawyer, CPA or business coach seeking clients
• a retailer looking for footprints to the front door
• a charity soliciting donors
• a car brand anxious for test drives, or
• a political party attracting voters

To crush that formidable enemy, NotToChange, you must be seriously disruptive.

In a word, you need urgency.

We already said you need Awareness (Job 1) and Differentiation (Job 1A), but you must also be certain that your chosen differentiator is actually urgent to your prospect. Many times it does not. Nobody gives a rat’s patoot that you “put the customer first” or have “proudly served our area since 2003.” Roughly, um, zero people react to that sign outside Wendy’s: “Quality is our Recipe,” a brand statement that’s both stupid and impotent.

If you tell voters about your “12-point plan” but your opponent scares them about a caravan of sinister people creeping across the border … you’re toast.

If you’re a college, promise high school juniors their campus visit will create welcoming social connections (versus finding intellectual stimulation or seeing stately buildings). You’ll be in tune with what’s urgent to your audience.

Can you re-ignite your brand story? Assert a credible differentiator urgent enough to change loyalties?
Yes! Maybe! Well, probably. We help clients crush competitors every day. Email or call 312.836.0050 and let’s explore it. Urgently.

We’re honored (again) to be listed as one of Chicago’s top branding agencies, according to Top Branding Companies: See here to learn more.