ADM serves Car Dealers, Automotive Marketing Pros and Internet Sales Managers
Be Different, Be Special and Sell Yourself.
“This would be a great business if it weren’t for the competition!”
Dave Kahl, in American Salesman, December 2007, wrote this.
Unless your business is in an extremely niche market, you will have competition, and perhaps a lot of it. As the population of the world increases, you will have more competition. All of them are just as hungry, just as passionate as you are. They each think their company is the best (or what would be the point?). They will do some things differently, and some of their moves will be right out of your playbook. Where is that playbook, anyway?
Some business people think that making themselves and their business look good means making the competition look bad, so they start finding things to criticize. I also take a potential customer’s complaint about a company quietly, and with a grain of salt, because sometimes I’ve found out my competition wasn’t the problem. It could be something as simple as a personality clash or misunderstanding, and nothing more. I almost never pass the information on to others, although I have called a competitor once or twice and said, “This is what I’m hearing people say about you.” Give them a chance to fix it themselves.
Don’t tell me what your competitor is doing wrong—
Ira Kalb, of CBS Money Watch writes, “Good marketers are market or customer-driven. They know that disparaging competitors…
—Tell me what you can do right for me
Do you believe in your product or service? Why? What is so special about it? Sit down in front of a pad of paper or jot some notes into Word. That’s the basis of your sales pitch. Know your company, your mission, your purpose in life, and your product or service inside and out. Develop your elevator pitch – a description of who you are and what you do that you would give in the time it takes to share an elevator ride with someone.
If you want to privately differentiate yourself from your competition, great. That’s Marketing 101. Do aSWOT (pronounced “swaht”) analysis about your company and your business. SWOT stands forStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is going to require some homework on your part, especially if you have a lot of competitors. I’ll talk about this in another post.
You scratch my back, I scratch yours
I live and work in the largest county in the contiguous US, but my town is pretty small. Not Mayberry-small, but small enough.
One day I was sitting in the al fresco area of a local café, and I looked up and down our little Main Street. Since I’m a graphic designer and web developer, I thought about the design and web needs of every single business just on that street. There would be no way I could service them all on my own.
The people in my field and related fields in my region and outlying regions also make kind of a small city. We have different skillsets, different talents, different interests. And people talk. To each other. And clients.
If I’m trash-talking my competitor, and they need my skills for a project, or they need to refer a potential client because they’re slammed with work or don’t do that kind of work, why in the world would they think of me in a positive way? If I need their skills or need to refer someone to them, how do I do that when I’ve just made a project out of disparaging them?
One of my clients, Janine Perry of Perry Design & Advertising is an exceptional and award-winning designer. She also has a real knack for marketing, advertising, and public relations. Every so often she gets projects that need the skillsets of some carefully selected designers she likes to work with. I get to be one of those designers. When my clients need more marketing, advertising, and PR services than I feel comfortable providing, she’s one of the first agencies I refer them to. We’ve worked together for several years. What would be the chances of either happening if we were insulting each other’s companies? You have to think of the long-term, even if long-term doesn’t seem to pan out. You never know when it’s going to come back to you, good or bad.
If I get slammed with work and get one or two many phone calls, and I have to refer out, I’m going to refer to someone who has treated me well and who I know will treat the caller well and be able to meet their needs. Then the person I’m referring thinks highly of the company I’m referring to and me. If someone they know needs our services or products, they’ll recommend both of us.
When I go into a store to find something specific, and I can’t find it, I ask one of the sales associates for help. I can always tell the difference between the just-a-paycheck salesperson, and the company-asset salesperson.
The just-a-paycheck person at Store A says, “We don’t carry that (or we’re out of it). Sorry. Store B? Oh, they’re awful and their prices are too high!”
The company-asset person at Store B says, “We don’t have that, but you might want to try Store C. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it there, and they’ve given me great service. Good luck!”
Which store am I more likely to think of next time I need something? Which store am I more likely to recommend to a friend? Yep. Store B. Because if I can’t get what I need there (and I probably can), they’re confident enough to send me to a competitor. They know I’ll be back. They’re awesome that way.
Ask yourself: what do you want to accomplish with your business? Win now at all costs, and probably lose your reputation in the process? What will that do for your business in the long-term?
What if you just concentrated on being the best owner and runner of your business possible? What if you found some local trade and business organizations, attended their meetings, and made some friends, while finding out what makes your competitor-friends tick? You might even find your competitors teach you and inspire you in ways you never anticipated. And that’s good for business.