Let me start by saying, competition isn’t a dirty word. Your competitors aren’t mean Shrek-like ogres (at least not all of them). They don’t have to be entities that you greatly disdain. In fact, they can be entities you greatly admire. You can learn a lot from your competition. Here is an example to start us off about focusing on competition. I work with a lot of leaders in business or corporate settings, and most of them keep their competition in their peripheral view. They are too busy servicing and growing their own business or organization to pay attention to the competition. I get it. That is the literal definition of “mind your own business”, but it is beneficial every now and then to lift your head and see what your competition can teach you.
It is that simple. Anyone in business knows that you have to study the market to understand how other people are doing the exact same thing you want to do. If you can suspend your bias, criticism, or insecurity long enough to see your competition fairly, you will notice they are doing some pretty cool, or not so cool things.
In this post, I will give you 10 things your competition can teach you about communication plus an activity that will help you begin to see those lessons.
Your competitors can teach you how to:
- Listen well
- Listen poorly
- Show humility
- Boast without bragging
- Handle customer complaints properly
- Motivate employees when you have NO money
- Tackle stale problems with fresh ideas
- Handle criticism
- Use body language to grow trust
- To emotionally connect or disconnect with people
Here are a few examples or resources:
In the news last month, Saturn issued a recall on Ions. This wasn’t big news as cars get recalled all the time.What made this story memorable was the news that the company knew about the safety concerns years prior, but did nothing. When that information leaked, it sparked controversy.
One of my favorite social media people to follow is Jenn Herman at JennsTrends. In a recent post, she described how two competing companies used social listening to promote their services by listening to prospective clients. In Jenn’s opinion, one did it well and the other one did not.
Inc. Magazine suggests setting up Google Alerts to see the “spy” on competition. If you or your competition has a brick and mortar, take a cue from the late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-mart, and walk in or call on your competition to see what they are getting right.
In this Forbes.com article, Google, Facebook and Zappos are examples of companies who use unique circumstances to get great results.
Online Facebook sales guru, James Parsons lists 25 things you can learn from your competitor’s Facebook page.
All of those resources show you can learn something. To help you apply this to your life, I have included a coaching activity for you to try.
At the top of sheet of paper, write the first name of a person you admire. Under that, draw a line down the center of the paper. On the left side, write “Things they do well” and then list the things they do well. On the right side, write “what I can learn from them”.
Flip the paper over, draw a center line. On the left side, write “Things they don’t do well”. On the right side, write “What I can learn from that”.
Variations of this activity: Write the name of a company. Write the name of a unit or division within your organization.
Debrief Question: What did you learn about yourself as you did this activity?
Whether you like what your competitors are doing or not, there is something to be learned from their activity. Whether you learn a specific “how- to” or just get inspired by a non-conventional approach taken, your competition is a wealth of lessons.
What do you admire about your competition?