Want to win in your marketplace? Stop dreaming

So your competitor is doing better than you, are they? Why did that happen?

You have been in business for a few years now, have a handful of employees and are still struggling to get by. You meet someone at an event who is in the same marketplace as you, with the same product or service, with the same time in the market. Difference is, they have 10 times more employees and customers.

Could it be they are infinitely smarter than you? Or could it be that they understand the client in a way that you don’t?

I have been in business long enough to know the first is not usually the case. I would like to share an idea – better, a process – to get past the obvious in the pursuit of that little bit of magic that seams so hard to attain.

Stop dreaming. Yes, I did say that. But why did I say that? Go to YouTube and search for “Epic Fail X Factor” or any of the other talent shows all over the planet. I do love watching the talented people – but it’s when you watch the ones that are not so talented you can really learn something about human beings. Or, better yet, you can learn about how we limit ourselves by focusing our future on things we are simply not capable of.

I want to be clear: I am not really saying don’t dream – I am saying get to know yourself and stop living in a dream. This is true not only for businesses but also for people.

For example, when I brand and position companies, I focus on who they have been, what they have done, I use evidence. Stop telling me things that haven’t happened. The fact is everything you have done or thought got you to where you are today. My job is not to sell you an ad campaign that I made up out of thin air – my job is show you in the best possible light.

Think of it this way – when you go to buy clothing do you ask the person to give you cloths that might fit you in five years? No, you get clothes that fit you today and that you are comfortable in. So what made you comfortable in those clothes? They don’t only fit your body, but they also fit your personality and lifestyle.

Most advertising that we are subjected to is essentially a pissing contest in which each undercuts the other and simply tries to confuse the buying public. Is that really fair? Here is another way to approach it. The best product doesn’t actually win – the best campaign does. Go one step deeper, the best ad agency wins. So what do you value? Do you value confusing people to make money or do you value bringing something to the world that you can be proud of?

It is easier to purchase the same clothes as others, the ones that are hot right now – but seriously, get some self-esteem and buy something that actually fits you. Go to an agency that will work with you and not just dazzle you with ideas.

Here are things to look for when trying to avoid agencies that will just package you with a meaningless flashy idea pitch.

How much emphasis do they put on getting to know you? One to three hours doesn’t cut it. It should take a few weeks just to get a proposal – and then a few more weeks of question asking (make sure they have thought these questions out – check their references).
Are you dealing with a salesperson or the actual strategist? A strategist means someone with deep knowledge and experience of the topic who can relate that to you. It does not mean someone who thinks a lot and charges you for it.

If disappearing into a market will make you money then please, forget you read this. But if all your competitors are in a pissing contest and you want to win, read this a few more times and ponder for a while before you sink your money into the next great idea package.