What Rival Businesses Can Learn From Each Other: The Mimicking Game

Enemy of my enemy is my friend. Let’s change it to my enemy is my best friend and cut the middle man out. Yes, this should be my next corporate slogan.

And somewhere along the line, in the subconscious of my business marketing strategy, this is apparently a true guilt that I must be at peace with. Otherwise, the reluctance of not admitting what my competitors do the best will swallow me up and I will lose the opportunity to learn something valuable from them.

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For those who are like me: You will often find it difficult, taxing and yet unusually reassuring to compete with those who share the same goals. For some this may not be something new, but then again one has to keep an open perspective. So here are the three things that I learnt from business rivalries of my own and the others:

The Marketing Tactics

The number one slot for investment in innovation goes to none other than marketing. It’s where every rival business ups the ante of psychologically innovative warfare or what you call euphemistically as the advertisement.

Advertisement in its simplest sense means connecting with the audience. For me, it’s not just restricted to TV and Billboards. It can be as simple as a feedback email or a new year’s greeting mail. The subtle facts matter the most. Let me give you an example -

Once I got an email from my rival company that went like this:

“Hi, There!! I am CEO at XYZ. And I am here to have a candid one on one talk with you. I just wanted to improve your experience with us so I am sharing a link with you to provide your feedback.

Please go through it and respond me back. This is my personal mail and you will be speaking straight to me.

I will see that your problem gets solved on the spot. Thanks and have a great weekend!!”

Now this was the moment of epiphany for me. I immediately had a meeting with my marketing team and shared my views with them. In brief, I discussed what my own emails lacked:

  • Brevity
  • Empathy
  • Amour propre (French for sense of one’s own self-worth)

I morphed my email marketing strategy with above things in mind and from then on got a considerable boost in my own customer email responses.

The rule of the thumb here is to adapt what you like in your rival. But to adapt it in a different shade of color.

Growth Hack Strategy

You can ask: What the difference between marketing and growth hack is? After all, marketing is meant for the growth of the company and an innovative marketing strategy is just equivalent to growth hacking. No. This is because scholars have spilled buckets of ink on marketing whereas growth hack is still coming of age.

But why do we talk about growth hack? Because it works amazingly well. Let me give you an example -

There is this company named Xiaomi that beat Samsung and Apple at its own game in China. Within four years of its inception as a start-up, Xiaomi became a $10 billion dollar conglomerate. They applied following growth strategy:

  • They learned from Apple and targeted the market that was untouched by them.
  • With almost zero marketing budget. They relied heavily on social media and word of mouth. This helped them decrease the price of their handsets substantially.
  • Apart from this, they also bet on “Moore’s Law”. They sell their product till 18–20 months after the launch. Whereas other manufacturers discontinue their products after 6–8 months. In this time period, the manufacturing cost comes down and thus the price.

In the Chinese market, Xiaomi is called “Apple of China”. All around the globe companies that have atypical growth strategies are mushrooming and other small players are following their lead of growth.

Learning From Your Low-Cost Rival

Stalking your rivals can sometimes be like erasing the dust out of your bedroom mirror. You wake up one morning and by pure serendipity, you polish your mirror and discover something. Maybe a pimple that is now all the more visible.

When leaders learn about a new threat the first question they ask is: Are these permanent? Most of them believe they aren’t. They forget that these low-cost companies are making money hand over fist. Which means they are only going to grow.

So, in this case the relevant question they should ask is: Is the low-cost player serving an audience we have interest in? If the low-cost player is a threat to your business then you can adopt one or a mixture of following strategies:

  • Introduce new design features into your products or design trendy products like Apple does.
  • Innovate. Time to do some R&D. Samsung does it all the time.
  • Set up your own low-cost infrastructure based market. Monetize your years of experience as a market leader.
  • Extract the power of your brand. Build a brand community and increase your followers.

As long as you are in the business, rivals will keep on sprouting. Some will even succeed. Most of the fights will center around extracting a share of two types of audience — those who buy “value” and those who buy “price”.

Now, if a company attracts a customer because of the low price, the company will lose the customer only if the rival offers a lower price. And same goes for value. So, my last piece of advice would be to know your rivals well because it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

‘Want to become a successful entrepreneur who gets things done? Stop relying on emails and switch to ProofHub.’

About Author:

Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder of ProofHub — a leading project management and collaboration software. A passionate leader, Sandeep is always on the lookout for innovative ideas about filling the communication gap between groups, teams and companies. He is also a featured writer on LinkedIn and a contributing author at YourStory. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Also follow our company page @ProofHub to get the recent updates about our tool, published articles, motivational quotes & presentations.

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Originally published at LinkedIn

Internet Entrepreneur, CEO of SDP Labs and Founder of ProofHub