Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Preparing a Competitive Response

When competitors release something new and exciting, your two choices are to ignore their new offering, or come up with something new yourself. So says Liz Dolan, the former Vice President of Corporate Marketing for Nike (as reported in Charlie Jones' and Kim Doren's book "That's Outside My Boat.")

If you decide to respond to your competitor, Dolan explains, you can either respond in kind by building and releasing a competitive product or service, or by trying something completely different to get the attention of your prospects.

Dolan recounts a story of how Nike handled competition badly. Reebok released The Pump, and Nike responded by spending a huge amount of time and capital to create a competitive product. In retrospect, Dolan realizes that The Pump was more of a gimmick than a technological breakthrough.

Sometimes we react, Dolan explains, when we should have responded.

The proper way to respond to a competitor's introduction of a new product or service is to understand what they've done, to assess the impact on your business, and to respond in an orderly way.

Dolan does remind us, however, that everything that a competitor does could possibly have an impact on our business. We need to pay attention to our competitors' businesses, and prepare an appropriate response.

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