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Is it outrageous to think you don't deserve to compete

‘I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas,’ Larry Page (Image Raúl via Flickr)

I’m going out on a limb today, so I’m asking you to mark February 18, 2014, in your calendar right now.

I’ll tell you why in a moment; first I want to challenge you with a question.

Do you believe your business has every right to be competing in its market?

Do you think it is ‘outrageous’ that anyone might suggest you should pack up and admit defeat?

Has 2013 begun with some surprises from your competition? Or new, threatening entrants?

If you currently dominate your market, then I suppose you can skip today’s article.

However, if you are battling it out with competitors of all shapes and sizes, especially bigger ones, read on.

Something realistic small businesses can learn from Google

Today’s article was inspired by a comment made by Google co-founder, Larry Page, in an interview with Wired magazine, Google’s Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter.

Before I continue, I will tip my hat to marketing author, Dr Iain Waller, who recently wrote, ‘One of my pet hates is when I see articles that tell you how to become the next Google or Apple, and then go on to explain absolutely nothing of use to a small business … or at times even anyone.’

The following IS relevant to all businesses because it is about mindset.

When quizzed about why Google is persisting in pushing Google+ (some describe it as Google’s version of Facebook), when the social networking marketing is dominated by the Facebook giant, Larry Page’s reply is worth printing and hanging on a wall in your office:

For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No. We’re actually doing something different. I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas. When we started with search, everyone said, “You guys are gonna fail, there’s already five search companies.” We said, “We are a search company, but we’re doing something different.” That’s how I see all these areas.

Can you say it is ‘outrageous’ that anyone would doubt your organisation’s reason for existence?

To me, the insight here is that when you are doing something TRULY different and potentially VALUABLE to the market, you have a future worth investing in.

The gift of this quote to all of us is to give us pause for thought to make sure we KNOW not only our point of difference but the reasons our point of difference is SUSTAINABLE.

Discovering or rediscovering your point of difference

While it is certainly possible to eek out an existence doing the same as everyone else, the future is likely to be a shaky one.

Discovering what makes your business truly different and valuable to the market involves some key questions:

  • Who do you want to be special to (your target market(s))
  • What are the key wants and needs you can satisfy (we call these drivers)
  • How do you want customers to perceive you (this is your brand positioning)

Answering these questions while also surveying what the market currently offers, will go a long way to helping you discover or rediscover what makes you ‘different’ in the market, different AND sought after.

One of the most common blind spots facing small to medium business owners, as well as management of organisations, is the consumer-eye-view.

Very few of us in positions of responsibility and power, actually take the time to look at OUR market through the eyes of prospective customers.

Short of booking in for our Fast Track Marketing Plan (sorry, it seemed silly not to mention it), something worth planning this week would be to:

  • ‘Google’ the market as a consumer might
  • Call some competitors and make queries as a prospective consumer
  • Arrange some ‘mystery shopping’ of your own business without telling anybody else about it (this is when you hire a team like Baker Marketing to approach your business as a prospective customer and report back to you on the experience)

Here’s hoping you either like what you discover OR you are so disappointed you are spurred into action to reinvigorate your enterprise to do whatever it takes to make a difference again.

The calendar entry

Remember my invitation to mark February 18, 2014, in your calendar?

I believe that by that day, Google+ would have achieve market parity with Facebook, the juggernaut with more than a billion users.

The reason I am so confident is that some new offerings withing Google Plus have the potential to integrate this social network into many people’s lives, particularly the Communities feature which I’ll write about in future articles.

For now, let me say that Larry Page’s philosophy of pushing harder and rethinking problems (the article referenced above is good reading) suggests that Google, the giant in search and other fields, will surely find a way to topple or match the giant in social networking within 12 months.

What’s your next goal?

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