A brand needs to have enemies. Without enemies, the brand will never grow. Coca Cola cannot live without Pepsi; without Coca-Cola, Pepsi will not innovate to build its brand further.
Here we are not talking about fighting with swords and knives; but we are talking about how the brand can challenge its enemies (competitors) with wits and strategies for the top market share in the industry.
A brand needs to have these 3 group of enemies:
#1 The Industry Giant
Especially for the small medium sized businesses, you need to see your industry giant as your enemy. Do not think that you are not able to compete with the big boys. With social media and online marketing, any big or small business has the equal opportunity to compete with one another.
By making your industry giant as your enemy, your business sets a performance benchmark naturally. Moreover, your business will likely come out with effective strategies of how you can win your industry giant in time.
Since you are not able to compete neck to neck with your industry giant, you need to use clever guerrilla marketing strategies to beat this giant. Companies which never set their industry giant as their enemy, will never grow. This is because they are happy by staying in their individual comfort zone.
As a branding strategist, I always like to work with small companies with big goals. This is because so long they have a proper marketing and branding strategy, they will eventually become one of the top market leaders in their industries.
#2 On-Par Competitors
Choose one to three companies which you think are on-par with the current status of your brand. On-par competitors are the enemies that have the fastest potential to steal your market share.
Usually they will be selling almost the same product type as yours, with on par quality, at a more competitive pricing than you too. Moreover, if they were to market their brands aggressively, your brand will stand the risk of losing out to them.
One of the ways to win on-par enemies is to build a strong branding foundation. Take for example, Starbucks. They give the customers a place to meet their friends, have coffee with them or just simply relax and do nothing.
This business model is very easy to be copied by anyone. Anyone can just set up a cafe and do the same thing as what Starbucks have done. In Singapore, the on-par competitors of Starbucks are Coffee Bean, Gloria Jeans and the new Dr Cafe.
When your business model is easy to be copied, it is important to invest on your branding strategy. This is what Starbucks is doing on a consistent basis. People still love to drink and hang around at Starbucks. This is because they love the brand. Starbucks also invested a lot of money on its people in order to make its brand stand out through good customer service. If Starbucks stopped its branding activities one day, other on par competitors can then easily win over them.
Hence, it is important to know at your current business stage now, who are your on-par competitors? What are the things that they did right which is worth for you to learn from, innovate, and be better than them? And what are things that they did wrong in which you can advantage of immediately, so as to win their market share?
#3 New Entrants
Even if your brand has already been around in business for many years, you also need to be aware of the new entrants in your industry. Do not be complacent about what your business had achieved so far. Past was already over, so look forward now. This is because new entrants have the potential to steal away your industry’s market share too.
Observe them and monitor their progress. Engage mystery shoppers to find out about their products, how well did they fare on customer service, do they have a unique differentiation strategy, what marketing strategies do they use and so on.
Most of the time, big companies got “ambushed” by the new entrants because of customer service. This is because as the company grows bigger, it tends to forget about customer service.
Customers like to feel good with the buying experience. Like what I had mentioned in my previous articles, especially in the age of social media today, word of mouth marketing spreads fast. Sometimes, we will see our friends recommending new entry brands to us on social media because of some simple acts of good customer service that they had experienced with the new entry brands.
Hence, do not take the new entrants for granted. They are pretty much enthusiastic about beating you in your own game. They are the ones that have the most potential to win your market share even if you are the market leader in the industry.
Do Not Go For the Kill
Many companies’ bosses that I spoken to,always asked me whether they can demolish or destroy their competitors once and for all. And my usual answer to them is that, you cannot destroy your competitors whether in business or in warfare.
The only thing you can do, is to win their market share, weaken them or make them lose the morale to challenge you back. Hence, do not think of how to destroy the competitors, think of how you can lead your market instead.
Businesses which think of completely destroying their competitors will tend to become too obsessed with this impossible mission. Just remember that, businesses are not able to destroy other businesses. Only the business itself can destroy its own brand.
That’s all for the article. So, gear up and challenge your enemies today!