In my first meeting with a client, I’m usually trying to find out about their business, and who they compete against. More times than I can remember, when I’ve asked who the client competes with, I get a variation on this theme:
‘No-one does what we do. We’re unique.’
Oh, really? While it may be true that their competitors really don’t do precisely what they do, is that how customers see it?
The Bet I Have Yet To Lose
So I pull my stunt. I take a ten pound note out of my wallet, place it on the desk, and ask the client to agree to a wager. The bet is that, within fifteen minutes, I can find a company on the web that would appear to do the same thing as my client.
The bet has never been refused, and I’ve never lost.
To understand your competitive position, you’ve got to view your company from the outside, as a potential customer would.
From the Customer’s Point of View
How do your customers describe the problem they’re trying to solve? How do they describe the product or service they need? How do they differentiate between solutions?
Perhaps it’s time to refresh your understanding of your competitive differentiation. When did you last go out to talk to people and find out how they perceive what you do?