“What would you do if another brand moved onto your block?”
The question is never a matter of if another brand will mimic your products, capture the attention of your customers, or try to delete your existence – it’s a question of when?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have something great to offer the world that’s already been proven. What that means is that that little copycat of a competitor is coming sooner rather than later.
Here’s the solution on how to realistically compete as a startup against a big fish holding $100,000 more in marketing dollars than you …
My advice is simple:
One of the things that I always teach my students in Brand Story Mentorship™ is how to stay true to your mission and ignore the competition. I don’t preach that irresponsibly, of course.
The lesson is rooted in the idea that your competition’s moves shouldn’t dictate yours. Their innovation cannot motivate yours. Their strategy must not alter your story.
Don’t get me wrong, staying true doesn’t mean standing still or doing nothing. If you’re scaling a business, you absolutely must take continuous action to stay relevant.
My point is that your actions should stem from the intangible asset that no one on the planet can imitate, even if they do have triple the force in business-building resources.
It’s called your mission.
In storytelling, we refer to it as your brand promise: the all-encompassing statement that explains the very reason for your existence.
For Starbucks, it’s …
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one cup, one person and one neighborhood at a time.”
For Nike, it’s …
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
For Marjani, a brown girl beauty retailer I had the pleasure of crafting the story for, it’s …
“To break the mold of beautiful.”
When you know your mission and you’re 100% confident in it, you’re able to compete on the basis of “why” not “what”.
Successful brands focus their marketing communications and brand growth efforts around why they’re selling what they’re selling to compel people to buy from them. Short-timers, on the other hand, gain short-lived popularity by expending their energy (and ad money) on promoting only the features and benefits of what they’re selling.
The shortcoming of the latter is that “what” is easily duplicatable. Not to mention that the “conscious consumers” of today buy more frequently from brands with clear missions that resonate with who they are.
When you know your mission, you’re also able to innovate in a way that’s personalized to your brand and to what your customers expect from you.
For example, a large competitor may be trying to knock off a particular lipstick of yours and sell it to the same market. Instead of trying to create more lipstick colors or invest money in improving your formulas, you’d reference your original mission (let’s say it’s something around “challenging beauty standards”) and create a complementary product for your customers that fulfills that mission in a new way.
The Lip Bar, one of the most buzzed-about beauty brands right now, just did this with their launch of Fresh Glow, a 2-layer bronzer and blush duo.
Let’s say you’re a service-based business with a mission “to empower new entrepreneurs with a CEO mindset.” When a new thought leader emerges with a “Side Hustle to CEO” course, instead of creating a competing CEO course with the same content topics, consider what “empowerment” uniquely looks like for your brand. Maybe serving your audience of CEOs involves a higher touch service, like a mastermind, retreat or VIP day.
That’s what I mean by staying true and ignoring the competition.
It’s about moving forward from the root of your brand’s core, rather than scrambling to play the game with competitors only chasing trends and popularity.
Remember, there are customers relying on you to be you.
And believe it or not, in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, there is still a cohort of humans loyal to brands that are loyal to themselves.
Are you one of them?