How To Beat The Competition

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Personally, I’ve never been afraid of competition. Oscar Wilde once simply stated, "be you because others are already taken."

Seth Godin had a brilliant post (as he usually does) on competition: "The number one reason people give me for giving up on something great is, ‘someone else is already doing that.’  Or, parsed another way, ‘my idea is not brand new.’ Or even, ‘Oh no, now we’ll have competition.’… Competition validates you. It creates a category. It permits the sale to be this or that, not yes or no. And this or that is a much easier sale to make. It also makes decisions about pricing easier, because you have someone to compare against and lean on."

The lesson is to become an "or" instead of just an "and".

It’s not just semantics. Yes, my agency, Twist Image, has a very different business development platform than some of our competitors (we prefer to use this Blog, the Podcast, a business book and my speaking to get people to think differently about Digital Marketing and – in turn – to consider hiring us as their Digital Marketing agency of record). But, there’s a bigger idea happening here: we’re not just trying to think differently or be thought-leaders, we’re trying to differentiate ourselves from the competition (and that’s not just in the words I publish, but the work we do for our clients – as 100+ full-time employees across multiple offices – every day). The net result is that when a big brand is looking for a partner to help them get their Digital Marketing in order, the conversation goes something like this: "Well, there’s Company A and Company B and then there’s Company C… or, there’s Twist Image."

You have to be able to deliver.

Talking, Blogging, tweeting, promoting, having a Facebook page, etc… Everything is critical to keeping your brand in the public’s eye, but none of that matters (and none of these words matter) if the brand can’t deliver on the promise. Godin is right, competition validates that the industry you’re in is actually an industry with paying clients, and the easiest way to be the best choice amongst all choices is to be become an "or" instead of just an "and."

The great brands know this. The great brands live this. Do you? Does your company? Or, do you shy away because there may be some competition?


  1. I was inspired by Seth’s post this morning and am now inspired again to continue to “differentiate or DIE”. Thanks to you both.
    I try my hardest to set the bar so high on a daily basis that my competition couldn’t possibly reach me, couldn’t possibly compete at the same level, so that we are never an “and”.

  2. We should also mention that there is another option. It’s something that is written about in the excellent business book, Blue Ocean Strategy: where you create a specific niche within an industry that is incontestable (think black belt-level branding). A great example of a company that managed to pull this off would be Cirque du Soleil.

  3. Part of beating the competition is to outwork them… but there’s also the old saying, “don’t work harder… work smarter.” That being said, sometimes you have to work harder to be smarter.

  4. Hi Mitch, Guess what, the situation still remains the same, as always the competition is stiff,the likes of Graham Bell had to face it with such an awesome invention, we should not be exceptions. Without competition we will sleep in deep complacency until it all ends, the point of using social media tools to create online presence then influence would come to fruition only for companies who really think of delivering better then the requirements and doing this regularly. Thanks for putting up a brilliant post again.

  5. Well said, Mitch.
    Creating content (good content, not just content of any kind) is a huge differentiators. And a big opportunity to grab a space. Even if someone now comes in and tries to “copy” they will be light years behind.
    Finding a unique angle with your online content is in my opinion is a key to differentiating.
    Is it funnier than everything else out there?
    More practical?
    Full of better tips?
    A unique format?
    Fitting in has never been in style 🙂

  6. I feel as if I’ve arrived late to the party by not having crossed paths before Mitch! Brilliant industry insight. It’s great to see we’ve successfully converted ‘lone pioneer’ (by launching the Guinness World Records iPad app on day 1 – without an iPad) into ‘amongst the industry leaders’ for digital publishing on iPad.

  7. It’s never been about the competition: it’s been about the unique angles of the story that each unique brand uncovers. The ones who fight on price and margins struggle and struggle away.

  8. Mitch- “You have to be able to deliver.” In my industry, there is no other benchmark that touches your ability to “deliver”, and I have been very blessed in my life to deliver consistantly (even in two bad rececssions) because I love what I do, I work HARDER and SMARTER than my competition, coupled with a Tactical approach to my business process for hiring, and recruiting top engineering talent… Great post! Brian-

  9. It come to the point of just being different. Everyone likes to look at past experts strategies to engage. But past experience are not going to provide same results. It deals with quality of content, sequencing, and intergration. I do a lot of work with ny fashion week and engaging new designers. Every year we find times where it easier to impact designers wanting to be a part. Different tactic work but focusing on the ones that work is the key.

  10. The challenge with that is getting employees on the same wavelength and being able to make it scale. I’m sure you’re figuring out how to make that all work across the organization (like we all are).

  11. Mitch,
    Thanks for this.
    I’m meeting today with people whom I hope will become future business partners. I am looking to start an agency and hope these people share my vision. One of the questions I’ve asked myself as I prepare for this meeting is, “But Company A already does that and is big. Who’s going to give you/us the time of day?”
    This post has given me some extra motivation. Thanks!

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