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How to Destroy the Granite Walls of Competition

12 steps on winning in a constantly changing industry

October 10, 2012 By Peter Weedfald
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I strongly believe that if we are not forcing our own obsolescence, our competition is doing it for us. These words apply whether you’re a CE manufacturer, retailer, dealer or distributor. Each day the phrase takes on greater meaning and importance as we collectively troll through a rough-and-tumble business defined by constant change.

First of all, it’s an honor to contribute to Dealerscope, a publication with complementary digital assets that has served my teams well for the last two decades in our quest to build brand, accelerate product push and gain competitive channel advantage. My leadership experience as executive vice president of ViewSonic, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics, and senior vice president of Circuit City informs my CE-centric observations that focus on exploring and sharing best-of-breed practices that are designed to break through competitive granite walls.

Frankly, if you do not have a competitor, you should consider inventing one. Perhaps create a new sub-brand designed to compete with your own core offerings. This strategy can open highly viable opportunities for market expansion.

From a competitive standpoint, I agree with the sagacity of Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel, who once said, “In business, only the paranoid survive.” The gravitas of paranoia, defined as “excessive suspicion of the motives of others,” is alive and well in American businesses—at least in those businesses that are transcending formidable competitors through channels of distribution.

Based on this definition, count me in as a card-carrying business paranoiac, or at least an aspiring trainee. How about you?

People on tenterhooks are usually highly focused, and with an unyielding determination to succeed. When you ask brilliant, paranoid leaders, “Why do you push so hard against the granite wall of competition?” the overwhelming answer is: “It is the fear of losing that drives my determination to win, to smash down that granite wall.”

With this fear of failure powering our intrepid demand to succeed, I offer 12 rules of competitive engagement designed to fuel your team’s ability to compete, to defeat, and to break through every competitive granite wall:

1. Study your competitors’ advantages to prevent your disadvantages; study your competitors’ disadvantages to build your advantages.
2. Repeatedly invest in relevant research, and promote its value.
3. Analyze all local and global strategic and tactical product options.
4. Develop core communications and advertising that focus on and burnish the value of your product and brand in all relevant markets.
 
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Most Recent Comments:
Mike Noblit - Posted on October 16, 2012
I thought the article was compelling, and in typical Peter fashion - insightful. The chase is always a lot easier – you have your competitors in sight and you zig and zag with them to jockey for position. I always thought the marathon example best illustrates how most world class runners never like to lead. They follow, pace, and then make their move in the closing mile. The leader has all the stress – where to go, how fast to run, and hearing the footsteps behind him. Following (chasing) is easy – leading is hard. Internal pressure is the hallmark of a good company. Assessing S/W internally is as important as externally … as Peter points out. Remember the “catfish” analogy: “Bunch of lackadaisical mudfish swimming around in a pond – sometimes so disconnected with their reality they sink into the mud and die. Toss a catfish into the pond, and the mudfish are always under pressure and therefore stay alive.” So true – pressure pushes the best companies (and managers) to excel above expectations. The engagement rules highlight what companies do to gain market share, customer respect, and avoid obsolescence. The particular emphasis on the customer follows Peter's personal commitment to always put the customer in front – without them we are nothing. Identify the gap with your competitors and find a way to fill it. Pls keep them coming.
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Archived Comments:
Mike Noblit - Posted on October 16, 2012
I thought the article was compelling, and in typical Peter fashion - insightful. The chase is always a lot easier – you have your competitors in sight and you zig and zag with them to jockey for position. I always thought the marathon example best illustrates how most world class runners never like to lead. They follow, pace, and then make their move in the closing mile. The leader has all the stress – where to go, how fast to run, and hearing the footsteps behind him. Following (chasing) is easy – leading is hard. Internal pressure is the hallmark of a good company. Assessing S/W internally is as important as externally … as Peter points out. Remember the “catfish” analogy: “Bunch of lackadaisical mudfish swimming around in a pond – sometimes so disconnected with their reality they sink into the mud and die. Toss a catfish into the pond, and the mudfish are always under pressure and therefore stay alive.” So true – pressure pushes the best companies (and managers) to excel above expectations. The engagement rules highlight what companies do to gain market share, customer respect, and avoid obsolescence. The particular emphasis on the customer follows Peter's personal commitment to always put the customer in front – without them we are nothing. Identify the gap with your competitors and find a way to fill it. Pls keep them coming.