Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy and author The Influential Marketing Blog, made me think twice today. He asked:

“If we were to ask you to describe your competition, you'd probably talk about companies that do exactly what you do. The owner of an Indian restaurant will discuss other Indian , for instance, while a florist will focus on rival flower shops. That approach is completely understandable—they are, after all, direct competitors. But if you let your vision get too category-specific, you might miss the fact that you're also competing with companies that offer products and services quite unlike your own.

“On any given night,” explains Rohit, “any Indian restaurant might compete with a fast food joint, or even a grocery store. The flower shop might compete with a chocolate store on Valentine's day, or even with charitable causes when it comes to donations people make in memory of their departed loved ones.” Battle your indirect competition head-on. One way to lure customers from alternate categories is to make yours the more convenient option.

“People decide on dentists, dry cleaners, gas stations and much more based on little more than whether or not you happen to be on their way home,” he says. Another is to demonstrate how your product or service addresses their underlying need in a way they might not have considered.

“As and businesspeople, we often focus on fighting against our competition,” says Bhargava. “Sometimes, the better course might just be to see if you're even fighting against the right foe.

And ask yourself this….“if no one knows about me, how am I supposed to get opportunities”?

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