As much as we see it, feel it and even celebrate it in our daily lives, competition is a peculiar life quality. Painfully, it"changes teams" at the drop of a hat, especially in the world of business. One day, it's working for us and we're at the top of our game. The next day, it's our worst enemy. It can evoke a range of emotions from elation to anger. The impact on our behavior can be even more radical. Through all of my working years in various positions and industries, I have always welcomed competition wholeheartedly. I enjoy getting to know the landscape and learning from the others in the field. Having a healthy perspective of who you're up against can create an intelligent drive to succeed for yourself. Not so surprisingly, it also becomes a powerful tool to helping your fellow pros to reach even higher heights.
Market Survey Says...
When Christina and I segued from planning events to founding and building an event planning software, there were already over a dozen companies serving the industry. With their own unique brands and approaches, each worked to carve out their own niche. There was a bit of overlap from solution to solution but, for the most part, they were all just different enough to stand out. No one, however, was doing it the way we wanted to, the way we knew could change the way this industry thought about technology.
Pre-Dive Depth Check
Aisle Planner's value proposition was unmistakable. We were unwavering in its positioning and we envisioned how it was going to stand apart. We were crystal clear on how it was going to fit into the uncommon ecosystem of the wedding industry. Excited and inspired with our toes to the edge, we were taking the dive. What we didn't know, however, is that there were a half dozen other companies, scrappy startup, firmly established and well funded alike, who were all landing on a similar thesis. They were all looking at this same space. They were going after our audience. We went from standing alone at the top of the mountain to discovering the enormity of the competitive landscape. Nearly instantly, we were the underdog in a market we felt we were going to define.
Climbing Our Own Mountain
Suddenly, it felt like despair and hopelessness were knocking on our front door. Unless we could level the playing field with the same resources and financial backing, there was no way we could compete. Like salt in an open wound, the discouragement would hit with every passing day. Updates about another round of funding, another merger with an industry organization, another amazing event, giveaway or promotion. We felt sidelined. We needed to find our path, our voice. And just like that, we realized our audience and our competition forced us to look within and find just that.
The Power of (Your) Choice
In simplest terms, business competition boils down to customer choice. We embraced this. Becoming students of the market, we learned why customers were choosing the products and services they were using. We discovered what they wanted, what they didn’t, what made them happy and what made them mad (sometimes, really mad). Our focus, then, turned to where our competitors were falling short. We crafted a "grit n' grind" strategy for our brand that didn't require the big budget or massive outreach. Instead, it established the path for building intimate relationships with our customers.
Continually, we work with them to solve the problems they needed fixed and the solutions that supported their prosperity. We invested heavily in customer support, making sure we had the best possible team available when we knew the key to our success was ensuring theirs on our platform. We know, accept and embrace the freedom of choice our customers have (that includes you!). This forces us to focus more and work harder to deliver on our promise to you, our collective community and our own team. When you have a decision to make on what you need to run your business, we want to be the best one. We know we don't have the luxury of time. We accept that building and holding momentum takes effort 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For you and for us. If it weren’t a competitive landscape showing us our shortcomings and our opportunities, and an equally competitive spirit driving us to deliver day in and day out, we wouldn't be where we are today. For that, I thank them and you every day.