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Get Months Ahead of Your Competition

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How To Play A Better Game

get months ahead of your competition
When you have your own business you know that there is an intense game between you and your competition. Someone does something in your market and you respond and vice versa. The business that wins the marketing game is the one who makes their plan the hardest to copy. Last week I showed you how to create an advertising plan for launching a new business. This week we are going to take that one step further so you can flood your market and come out months ahead of your competition.

Get Months Ahead of Your Competition

get ahead of the competition
When I started my business I was advertising it through signs I had put up in a retail store. The business I was launching had a direct competitor in the same shopping center. After a few days one of the owners of the store caught wind of my signs and came over to check them out. They slyly took my business card (I caught them out of the corner of my eye). I was not on the lease agreement so I didn’t realize there was a non-compete on the lease agreement.

The next day I walked over to their location and gave the owner my business card (knowing they had already took one). I told them that I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes so if there are any problems give me a call and I’ll see what I can do. Instead of giving me a call the owner went directly to the owner of the building. A few days later the owner showed up and threatened me saying I was violating an agreement and I had to stop soliciting my business. I responded saying that I was not operating out of the building and that the address on my card was simply a mailbox that was at the location. I also said I wasn’t violating anything because I was not on any lease agreements and I was not operating out of the store I just worked there all the time and was promoting my business.

Diversion – Showing A Slight of Hand

slight of hand
After that argument I took down all the signs in the store and started formulating a real advertising plan. I had done marketing and business valuations for nearly a decade so my business and marketing skills were very strong. Realizing that I had a great opportunity here to hit the other business where it really hurts I did a few things to get a gigantic leg up on the competition.

After I took down the signs it was hard to solicited the new business from the retail store I was working at. Of course I found interesting ways to bring up what I was doing, but it was much harder to initiate conversions with interested buyers. Luckily the competitors were really good friends with another business owner in the location that I had worked for previously. Since he was such a good friend of the other business owner he was able to get a lot of good information for me on what they were trying to do to get rid of me.

I devised a strategy where I wanted the competitors to think I was shutting down. I went over to my old boss and told him once I took down the signs I wasn’t getting anymore leads so I had to close the business. I didn’t tell him to tell the competition, and I didn’t tell him that it was a joke. I wanted him to believe that I was actually shutting down so that he would pass that on to the competition. This little move of deception gave me time to create a really strong advertising plan that would take the competitors months to replicate.

Since I already had a good job and I wasn’t desperate for money I didn’t really care about getting a few customers right in the beginning. Instead, I made it look like I was completely shut down. Meanwhile I was filming commercials, setting up search, display, social media, and remarketing ads, and writing press releases. The same stuff I taught you in last weeks article: Advertising Plan For Your New Business Launch

Laying Down A Heavy Hammer

laying down the hammer
It took me a long time to find a great producer to film my commercials (at a good price). I also was doing a ton of research looking for the best channels to reach my target consumers. I was writing press releases, and it took me a few tries to actually get an editor interested in publishing them. I was also setting up my search and social media ads. This advertising plan took me a long time to put together. In fact besides for my website, and finding an office it was the only thing I was doing for the business. Having a good job allowed me a longer time frame to actually start taking on customers. Since I didn’t have any customers yet I had all my spare time to focus on this marketing plan.

It took me the better part of 2 months to get everything ready (I was also working 60 hours a week at my other job). This was fine however, the more time that passed the more the competition would think I had gone away for good. My goal was to keep people unaware of my business until I could reach everyone at once. Instead of slowly compiling more advertising slowly overtime and giving the competition a chance to respond to each of them I wanted to release everything at the same time.

I was also deciding on key differentiation that could really draw the customers to my business and away from their long-time relationship with the competition. I knew that in order to pull customers away I needed a really good plan and some really enticing benefits of choosing me over the competition.

I spent every dollar, every bit of credit and all of my extra time getting ready to launch the business and completely saturate the market.

The payoff was enormous. Since I patiently waited for my time to strike I had lulled the competition to sleep. During this time they even set up a small Adwords campaign that they had shut down right before I launched all my advertising. After hearing this from my friend that owned the other business in the shopping center I knew it was time to strike.

I completely saturated the market running TV ads on stations to reach older audiences. Running my press releases and newspaper ads. Launching my search, social media, and remarketing campaigns all on the same day. I was able to generate a ton of buzz within my target market. The best part is I was providing a premium service at a better price then the competition so shortly after I was getting a ton of word of mouth advertising as well. The plan worked exactly as I imagined it.

Since I had done marketing on a professional level for years there was no way the competition could replicate my web advertising. I also knew that being relatively new business owners themselves (new owners at a well established location) they would not be able to dump tons of money into hiring professional help. The commercial I got filmed instantly gave me credibility because I was able to get a really good filming crew and editor. The video easily would have cost tens of thousands of dollars if I had gone to a professional agency instead. By this point it was to late for the competition to respond.

I was to far ahead. I had a great service with a great price. I also offered several other additional benefits that the competition was charging for. These additional services cost me a little bit of time, but they didn’t cost me any money. Being such a hard worker it was an easy tradeoff, because it gave customers that much more of a reason to choose me.

Using This Plan If Your An Established Business

established business
Now since I was new it was easy for me to keep completely silent until I was ready to launch everything at once. A well established business or business owners who have already launched do not have this same luxury. However, there is still an element of gamesmanship that you can take advantage of. You may have a campaign already running, but if you aren’t already advertising everywhere you have a chance to formulate a plan that is extremely hard to replicate and launch it all at once. Instead of responding to the competition for every little change save up and create a marketing plan that launches at the same time on several different media platforms.

If your competition does not see you respond for a while they might just get comfortable with what they are doing and back off their marketing budget. Once you they get comfortable that’s the perfect time to strike and launch your new campaign.

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