Recreational sports leagues certainly bring competition, or lack thereof, to the forefront. My volleyball team got slaughtered the other night—scoring a total of 12 points in three sets to 21 (yep, if you did that math, that means we scored 12 to our opponent’s 63). Ironically, during one of the sets, one of my teammates commented to my husband, “Gosh, your wife is competitive.” I used to take this as an insult, particularly when people meant it in a less-than-flattering way. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder why others aren’t being more competitive. After all, when it comes to marketing your business—or yourself—actions often speak louder than words.
Sportsmanship and integrity go hand-in-hand with my competitiveness. Despite what my husband’s friend may think, it’s not about winning to me. It’s about anticipating—whether on the volleyball court or in the boardroom. To me, being competitive keeps me ahead of my opponents—I pride myself on digging up a spike no one saw coming and offering my clients new marketing ideas long before their customers start shopping elsewhere.
Nike, Inc.’s Maxim “We are on the offense. Always” describes my motivation best. Get out ahead, rather than get pushed into a hole. Anticipate and go. But is being on the offense always possible? Probably not, yet some of the most successful companies, big and small, stay ahead of their competition by being on the offense. Apple innovates, Nordstrom excels at customer service, and the Susan B. Komen Foundation runs the world’s largest fundraising event for breast cancer, to name a few. While many companies spent their time searching for the next “big” marketing campaign, these organizations anticipated the needs of their target markets and used actions—rather than words or fancy advertising—to push their products, services and causes forward.
It’s important to stay true to your business’s core competencies, and consistency can often be just as important as competitiveness (stay tuned for a future post on this nugget), but if you want to succeed in your marketing, and in life, it’s time to start thinking about being on the offense. Be a little competitive and consider how actions can speak for your brand just as much, or even more, than words can. Anticipate your clients’ needs. You may jump in the wrong direction once in a while, but more times than not, you will make a star play no one saw coming.