One of the few who really have no competitors.

One of the few who really have no competitors.

During my years hearing vendor pitches as an editor, I’d always ask “Who are your competitors?” to help position the pitch in my mind.

It was a standing joke among reporters that the marketing folks would always respond “Well, we HAVE no competitors…” The reason: their product or service was so full-featured, easy to use, affordable, scalable, flexible, or whatever that no one could hope to compete.

Is claiming you have no competitors clever marketing that highlights how unique you are? Or is it a self-defeating lie that insults the intelligence of your prospects and shows you’re only interested in selling to them, not listening to their needs?

As you can tell by how I phrased the question, I come down on the “self-defeating lie” side. But to be fair, here are the pros and cons of using this line. Let me know what you think after reading them.

Arguments in Favor:

  1. Heck, we really are unique. No one else offers the same mix of features, quality, customer support and price, not to mention our corporate culture of serving the customer and our leadership role in the industry. We have a more complete and far-reaching understanding of where the market is going than anyone else. Why shouldn’t we tout that?
  2. Naming other companies as competitors only gives these incompetent sleazebags credibility. We know they can’t match our capabilities, and we also know about their funding, channel, management and customer churn problems because we hear about them from prospects. Elevating them to our level in the marketplace is not only unfair to us, but misleading to our customers.
  3. Hey, we’re only kidding! People know we don’t mean this literally. Of course there are other companies claiming to do what we do, but this is our way of blowing them out of the water. Prospects are savvy enough to understand this.

Arguments Opposed

  1. Everyone has competitors, even a company near the top of its revenue, profits and market share game like Apple. Yes, you may offer more functions, higher quality, better pricing or better customer service than others. But you probably can’t do all of that at the same time for every customer. And even if you can now, someone will beat you in one or more areas in six months. This is what is known as the free enterprise system.
  2. Your prospects know you’re lying about having no competitors, because they have competitors. (See point above re: free enterprise system.) They also know you have competitors because they’re hearing from them, and can judge whether their offerings are better or worse than yours. Is lying to someone who knows you’re lying a good way to show them you’re trying to help them and not just meet your sales quota?
  3. Claiming you have no competitors hides your real value proposition – that you have created an offering that matches your specific customers’ needs for a unique mix of features, functions, quality, service and price. No one offering, from smart phones to SUVs to storage hypervisors can meet every customer’s needs, not should it. Claiming “We have no competitors” signals you care less about meeting the needs of your market niche than forcing a sale down their throat.

And the Verdict Is…?

How was that for an unbiased setup? Now, for your vote. State-run broadcasting companies from North Korea, or others whose competitors would be shot, need not respond.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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