One of the key things to be successful is to have the stamina to play for the long term
If you can just be in the game for a long enough period of time, a lot of your competition will just fall by the way side.
The reason for that is that most people on play for the sport term and if they don’t become successful fast enough then they quit. Some others quit because they don’t have the wherewithal to last long enough.
Yesterday I was having a discussion , with my colleagues, about engaging with partners . One of the points that came out was that it takes almost a year before the partners actually start trusting you to talk about opportunities.
This is for a specific case of services where we were looking for partners. But the important point is that if we don’t have a long term plan to stay in the game we will give up this market.
When you plan your business for the long term, then you next figure out the Financials accordingly. Based on that you work on the kind of mediums you can use to do your marketing. You can decide the best possible market for you to focus such that you can play for the long term.
You will win the war if you just have the ability to fight a lot of battles. This is true for a physical war as well as in marketing.
Till next time then.
In my first post on this topic, a few days back, I wrote about how you need to understand the competition.
The big challenge with competition, in the technology industry is that, in a lot of cases you don’t recognize where the disruption can come from.
In addition you can’t envisage all the ways your customers’ business is getting impacted. Based on the impact in their environment they may take decisions which can impact you.
I have had many situations over the years where we did not anticipate the customer’s business environment change, whether it was related to government policy or the change with people moving from Capex to Opex. In all these situations the customer’s demands suddenly changed and we had to rethink our strategy, delivery mechanisms etc. Trust me, its not a good position to be in.
The key advantage of doing business in B2B is that if you do a decent job, then you stay with the customer a long long time. There are very few impulsive decisions taken until you really mess up.
On the other hand you need to be aware of how the environment has changed over the last few years for the customer, so that you are not caught unaware.
This is competition for you because now you need to rethink your pricing , your technology and your delivery mechanism. Your customer expects you to provide a solution to fit their new circumstances or they will go somewhere else. And there’s no name to this competition so it’s more dangerous.
Till next time then….keep an eye for competition from different avenues.
If you can’t think what your competitors can do you will be someone’s lunch soon.
In my earlier posts I have written about why it’s important to have competition. For one it shows there’s a market. That’s a very critical point.
Second if the competitor has entered the market before you then you can learn from their mistakes. Third it helps you define your niche even better.
But competition is a very dynamic thing. The horse carriage people did not think Automotive would make them a relic.
Especially when you are doing product management in a technology industry you need to look out where the next competition will come from. Generally it never comes from your known competitors.
Did Nokia realize that Apple will totally decimate them. Or for that matter Kodak even though Kodak itself had built the first digital camera.
One of the best ways to understand where you competitors could hurt you is by placing yourself in your competitor’s shoes. Knowing the weaknesses that exist in your existing product or service or technology identify where could some other company come and displace you.
This may not always alert you to the company who could hurt you but it could help identify trends in the market which could go against you.
Which brings me to the other aspect of product management. Be out there in the market, in the store or with a customers, consistently trying to understand why customers are looking at something else instead of buying from you. It’s most often not only about price.
Till next time then….keep watching for your competitors.
In marketing if someone tells you they don’t have competition – then either there is no market or our person does not know where to play.
In the technology field you may have a window of opportunity of say a few months or maybe a year with your new product, but if you don’t see competition even on the horizon then you could be in the wrong market and that’s the scariest piece for a product management person in the technology field.
Most technology products or services are not born out of a specific need in the market. Most of the times companies keep tinkering and integrating various sub-modules to create a new product which the Product Management people are supposed to take to the market and convince their sales people to sell.
When you compete, a few things happen
- It means that there’s a definable market. You can choose a niche within that market where you may have less competition or where you define the niche. Your positioning improves because someone has already taken one slot in the market.
- It also means that you can aspire to pick up a larger piece of the market at a later date, so its not a FAD which will disappear as it came
- Competition also helps you fine tune your product or service better. Since you see the challenges the competition is facing in providing the same product or service, you can account for it already
- When you fight against a better competition you also hone your skills
I always get scared when I don’t see competition, even if its coming from a technology which is “n-1” from what we have, because then we know that there’s a market for the “n-1” at least. We just need to find enough people who have got disillusioned with it.
On the other hand I always admire how big companies like say P&G, Unilever or IBM etc. like to look at picking up a bigger piece of the market. They have such systematised methods to scale. I get to learn so much when they are in competition or when we join hands with one large company and compete against another large company. Its the best place to see how manager’s react , how decisions get made.
As they say, when you play a game against a better competitor you come out the winner either way – if you win, you win, but even when you lose you learn of the multiple things that you didn’t know off.
So always welcome competition.
Till next time then.