First place medal

We’re up to #9 on my list of The Top Ten Ways You Can Lose . . . Even When You’re the Best.

And the 9th way to lose is:  Your team is complacent.

You’ve been so good for so long that your team expects that it will always be business as usual. You’re not scanning the market, not tracking old and new competitors, not learning every day about what’s going on in the lives of your customers.

Many growing companies are actually making a market, not taking a share of an existing market.  The more innovative and unusual your service or product, the more you are focused on a niche, the fewer your competitors, the more likely it is that you will experience a short-term success that you can’t sustain.

If you have been successful in bringing a new product or service (or product/service mix) to market, sooner or later other prospective competitors are going to challenge your dominance.  You will have painfully created a market–first persuading customers that your service is a great idea and then persuading them to buy from you.  When you hit a critical mass of customers, you will undoubtedly attract competitors.

Where will they come from?  Some will be new companies mimicking your business model.  Others will be diversified companies observing an opportunity that they’d missed.  Still others will be companies that have been very good at producing something that’s no longer valued in the market, and they are looking for a new thing that they can be good at.

There are ways to combat this tendency.  Here are a few:

  • Conduct a Brand Promise Audit. Review the marketing messages of your company and those of your competitors.  Revise your promises as required.
  • Talk with your customers–those that you sold and those that you lost.  Be certain you understand what it is that people value about you and what it is that turns them away.
  • Engage your team in bringing ideas and information forward.  The more individual employees who are engaging in social media platforms and knowledge bases, the more current your knowledge will be about trends that may not have even reached the “trend” stage yet.  Encourage your team to look for potential threats as well as opportunities.

Whenever you hold the position of “the best” for a period of time, you become vulnerable to many kinds of attacks.  You can’t afford for your team to become complacent about your #1 position.