When launching a new business, you’ll do your due diligence. This will include the research of existing players in the market and an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
Which of those do you think are more important? The weaknesses right? So you know where your company can improve & drive added value to the customer?
Not necessarily. If Judo has taught us anything, it’s that great power comes from using your competitors strengths against them. In other words, you can turn their strengths into weaknesses.
An example: IBM VS Dell
An example of this happening is between IBM and Dell. At the time, IBM was the incumbent in the market, they had built incredible production lines, capable of mass producing the same product thousands of times. This, coupled with their tight supply chain relationships with retailers, put them in a very strong position.
That all changed when Dell entered the market. They were offering customised products to the end user, creating on-of-a-kind machines, rather than mass-producing, as IBM was doing at the time. They also solidified their position as a low cost competitor. They did this by keeping their own operational costs low by driving all their sales via the phone or website, negating the need for close (and expensive) ties with distributors and retailers. The savings that Dell made, were passed onto their customers.
Unfortunately for IBM, the rigid structures that had once made them so successful now started to work against them.
They couldn’t just start to sell online as it would irreparably damage the relationships that they had built with their distribution networks and they’d invested heavily in factories capable of producing large numbers of the same product and couldn’t write-off the investment.
Without starting it all from scratch, they were in an unfavourable position. So, you can see from this example that Dell turned IBM’s strength into a weakness.
So what should I do now?
If you’re already operating, we will talk in the next article in great detail about how you can prevent imitation in the market. How you can remain unique, differentiated and ultimately hold or improve your competitive position.
If you’re a start up, you should spend as much time as possible analysing what it is that your competitors do well. Think about how those things could be turned into a weakness. This is particularly easy in larger bureaucratic companies. They’ve generally built foundations over a number of years, which makes them rigid and lack agility. These are the companies you should be looking to target.