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Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 1: How to Differentiate Your Brand
Post 3: Your Business is Like a Castle with a Moat (and a Skyway)
We met with an enthusiastic team of future entrepreneurs. After much research, they had an interesting idea for a business. They wondered what we thought about it.
We asked a simple question, “Who’s your competition?”
One of them leaned forward in his chair and proudly proclaimed, “That’s the best part – we don’t have any!”
It’s a true story. Only it’s not one team of future entrepreneurs. We’ve heard it again and again.
If you ever find yourself thinking you have no competition, think again.
In fact – if you don’t see any competition, it’s probably a sign of danger.
Someone has tried your idea before and didn’t make it. You need to really be sure the market has changed before proceeding.
So competition means there’s a market with money. That’s good! You’re ready to build your castle with a moat, a skyway and a tunnel. Let’s look at each of them.
Your castle is your stronghold
Back in the day when castles were castles, lords and nobles built them as “private fortified residences.” They created them to control the territory around them.
Think of your business as a castle. You want a stronghold so you can defend yourself against enemy attacks (i.e. your competitors).
It also serves as a base from which to launch efforts to reach the people in the territories around you (i.e. other niches).
Your brand is the foundation of your castle. The walls are built on your unique strengths.
You have a tall tower, so you can see out over the landscape. This represents your vision, which we’ll talk about before we wrap up this Module.
Your castle is where your community resides. You take care of your customers here – watching out for them, protecting them, and serving them.
You do it for your own reasons. That’s your mission, another subject we’ll visit later in this Module.
Of course, your customers can come and go as they please. But why should they leave when you take such good care of them?
Your moat keeps outsiders at a distance
Your castle has a moat surrounding it. You only lower the drawbridge when you want, for who you want. So “outsiders” are kept at bay.
Outsiders include your competitors. While your castle protects your community, your moat keeps your competitors even further away.
The width of your moat is determined by your relationships with your customers – the stronger your relationships are, the wider it will be.
Its depth is based on your competitive advantages – the greater they are, the deeper the moat will be.
The wider and deeper it is, the more you can charge for your products and services. We call this a “reputational premium.”
[George] I had never heard that phrase before. But one of my customers used it to describe one of my former businesses. Ironically, it came as part of a complaint – one which I’m happy to say we quickly resolved. The customer was even more convinced. She became one of our best salespeople – and she did it for FREE!
Many business owners fail because they don’t charge enough. Others get by on a meager living. But it doesn’t have to be that way…
You can build an extraordinary life by building a business with a reputation for excellence! That’s branding! That’s why you’re here.
We’ll talk more about building a moat in the next post. For now, we want to get to know your competitors better.
(NOTE: The rest of this post is a preview of what you’ll look at in Part 3 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook. So just focus on absorbing the material here.)
Think about your top competitors (3 – 5 should suffice). What they do well? (If your answer is “Nothing” – you’re either not being honest or they shouldn’t be on your list!). Jot down their strengths as they come to mind.
Now flip the question. What don’t they do so well? Write down your answers as you think of each competitor’s weaknesses.
Resist the urge to think of your strengths to find their weakness. Just focus on them. By doing it this way, you may find an opportunity you would have missed otherwise.
Skyways enlarge your community
A skyway with a castle? That doesn’t make sense. Yet, in a funny way it does.
You see, we’re at a unique time in human history. We’re time traveling – simultaneously taking a leap backward and forward in time. It’s all thanks to the social web.
We’re going back in time to a day before broadcast communications. Back then, people did business with people they knew.
They didn’t hear an ad on the radio or see one on TV, because neither one existed! So they relied on relationships and referrals to grow their business.
But now we have new tools, thanks to the social web. And we have new ways of serving people. So mindsets are changing.
Business owners are an independent bunch. That’s one of the reasons they do what they do!
But there’s a better model today: interdependence.
For example, some of your competitors may not actually be in competition with you. They may be your greatest ally!
You may accomplish more working together than either of you could do on your own! It’s been dubbed “coopetition.”
So you have your castle. And you have a “friendly competitor” who has built one next door.
You each have your own place. How can you make more money by working together?
Build a skyway between your two castles!
Then your community and their community can go back and forth. You both instantly gain access to people you weren’t serving before!
And you can have more than one skyway!
Build as many as you can because this is one of the best ways to grow your business quickly. Even better, it requires very little investment on your part. We’ll revisit this subject in Module 3 when we talk about promoting your brand.
Build tunnels for smoother operations
We almost left this out but decided we should share it with you. It’s an extension of the “coopetition” idea.
The skyway is about the front-end of your business. Customers see it. Tunnels are about the back-end. Customers may not need to see them.
You may be able to share resources or functions with a competitor and both save money. In fact, there’s a thriving industry which does this for you these days – shared office space.
Landlords give you access to a copier and other equipment. You share a receptionist as well as conference rooms with your fellow tenants. It’s a win for everyone!
Look for ways you do more with less money by not going it alone!
You have a choice to make: You can go on to the next post or go through Part 3 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook. You probably know by now what we recommend! 🙂 Just a reminder – if you have questions, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.