Why you should be thankful for your competitors.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a monopoly? I’m not talking about the Parker Brothers board game. I mean a situation where one player, you in this scenario, has exclusive control over the supply of a commodity, product or service.

You could jack your prices sky-high and offer crappy customer service. You could say things like ‘This is how we have always done it.’ And, ‘If you don’t like it, take your business somewhere else!’ #maniacallaugh Because when no one else is trying to steal your cheese, you can run through the maze as slowly as you like.

Thanks, but no thanks.

A monopoly sounds terrible to me. Because without competition there is no game to win. You never have to push yourself to improve. There is no pressure to find the next competitive advantage. And therefore, there can be no great victory.

It is competition that makes business a grand adventure. It is what makes us admire the bold entrepreneur. Because without competition there is no risk (again, not the Hasbro board game).

Michael Dubin

dubin-hidi-01-2017_231531

I recently listened to the How I Built This podcast interview with Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club. When Dubin launched the DSC he had a momentary monopoly on the direct-to-consumer razor model. But he wasn’t the only one in the category for long. Soon major razor brands and upstarts alike started cutting into his space. But Dubin didn’t get mad. He didn’t throw in the shaving towel. Instead, he recognized the great benefit of competition.

‘The presence of competition pushes you to define yourself more specifically. And focuses you on the things that you want to do. And makes you work a little bit harder.’

-Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club

Key Takeaway

Your competitors are a gift. They motivate you. They sharpen you. They offer your team a common enemy. And nothing pulls people together like a common enemy. Except maybe a black hole. Or a tray of nachos.

Competitors make you define your uniqueness. They force you to declare your mission, and what success looks like. So be thankful for those you compete against. They are making you better. And they make your work and your wins more rewarding.

Why you should mind your own business.

In 2016 I left a comfortable job to start my own business. After working in the advertising industry for two decades I had a clear vision of what the perfect advertising agency was like. I used that vision as a blueprint to create a new agency called The Weaponry. At the same time, I began writing The Perfect Agency Project blog to share my experience and learnings along the way. And in case you didn’t notice, I just created a link to this blog, in this blog. Which may technically be the silliest thing I’ve done in 219 posts.

The Perfect Agency

I have thought about every aspect of the perfect advertising agency. From the dress code (which is only 9 words long), to the way we respond to client requests (always explore them), to the way we deliver invoices (singing telegram*), we are creating both the agency I would want to hire to create my advertising, and the place I want to work.

Competitors

But one thing I haven’t done since launching The Weaponry is think about our competitors. In fact, I don’t even know who our competitors are. We are not trying to win a geographical area. We are not trying to win a singular discipline, or serve a niche industry. So it’s hard to find another agency to throw in a cage match with us.

We are focused on building a machine for developing great creative ideas, delivering excellent customer service and providing a fun experience for everyone involved. That’s it. Oh, we’re also drinking a lot of chocolate milk. 

Occasionally in an RFP (Request For Proposal) we are asked who we compete against in various services. I always respond by saying we compete against everyone who offers those services.

But I don’t pay any attention to those supposed competitors. I don’t worry about what other agencies look like. Or what their websites say. I don’t go to awards shows to see their work. There is not a thing I can do about how they conduct their business. I am not trying to hurt them or steal their business. I am solely focused on us handling our business and delivering against our client requests.

In fact, there are only two agencies I think about at all.

  1. The Weaponry in its current state.
  2. The fully formed version of The Weaponry.

I am focused on closing the gap between the two, and making the business we work in today look more and more like the ideal.

Key Takeaway

Mind your own business. Don’t become distracted by what everyone else is doing. Understand what your customers and your employees want, and work diligently on delivering that at the highest level. It’s the shortest path to success.

This same principle hold true for us as individuals. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, or how they are doing it. Focus on what you believe in. You can never go wrong doing what you know is right.

(*Okay, so we haven’t fully implemented the singing telegram invoice delivery system yet. But let me know if you would like to be part of the beta test.)