And If The Competition Jumped In The Lake…?

Bow Wash
“But Mom… everyone else gets to go! Bobby gets to go!!!”

“And if Bobby jumped in the lake… would you jump in too?”
my mother calmly asked.

I hated that question… but looking back, it was probably good advice. Just replace the “jumped in the lake” part with any number of activities that were sure to lead to trouble.

In fact, as I think about it today… Mom’s old adage is probably good advice for marketers as well.

You see, a good marketing plan for your company is… well… a good marketing plan for your company. Yet, every day, many small business owners and marketers decide what they should do by looking at what everyone else is doing.

As the owner of a small company, this may not only be dangerous for your business… it may be fatal.

How many shops on Main Street responded to the Wal-Mart threat by lowering their prices? We will never know; they’re not in business anymore.

And while this common scenario plays out with devastating results in thousands of small businesses each year, its cause is easily identifiable, and the consequences completely preventable. It is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the most basic of marketing questions: “Who are our best customers, and what do they want, need and expect from us?”

The hardware store that used to be on the corner missed this. The day they decided to compete on price with the Big Box, they made a series of critical errors.

By inaccurately identifying their market, they wrongly believed that both enterprises were competing for the same buyers. By overlooking the disparate business and revenue models, they focused their energy and resources on activities that were designed to attain the goals of the Big Box, not their own. And finally, they traded their leadership position for that of just another follower.

I learned this lesson the hard way over twenty years ago; a mistake that nearly cost me my business. You can read about it here. At that time, following conventional wisdom, industry standards, and my competition’s game plan would have been the quickest route to failure,
and the same is often true today.

“So, if Bobby jumped in the lake… ?”

What Mom was really saying was that I didn’t need to follow what everyone else was doing. To
the contrary, I needed to find out what I was about and where I was going… and then go there.
I needed to lead… and so do you.

Thanks Mom.



Do you have a consistent and disciplined approach to marketing your small business? Is it comprehensive enough to include your entire staff?

Are any of your employees unsure how to contribute to the overall marketing goals of your company? If so, what is the remedy… and when will it be implemented?

What bold moves are you planning this week that will turn the eyes of the market, and your competition, toward you?

I look forward to speaking with you.


Photo Credit:

jenny downing