Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.
~Nancy Pearcey, Author
What’s a band without a concert? What’s a baseball team without a game? What’s a business without competition? Everything is just practice until you go face-to-face with a competitor. The challenge that you and your competitor pose to each other is the main event. It’s a battle for attention.
Every music school begins with a burst of inspiration. That inspiration leads to action. Action leads to customers. Customers attract wanted and unwanted attention from potential competitors. You either enter a competitive market or you create one.
Focus on the Customer
You want to limit your competitor’s ability to dominate your market, not put them out of business. The easiest way to beat your competition is by being more customer-centric. You won’t gain your competitive edge by offering better music lessons. You’ll gain your edge by building relationships and creating memorable moments for your students. The happiness your product provides is worth more than the perceived quality. Quality is subjective. An experience leaves a permanent impression.
Fear is Fuel
Fear is perhaps the greatest motivator in business and in life. There’s nothing like a little competition to stir up a lot of fear. Without competition we get lost in our day-to-day routine of implementing and maintaining operations. It’s hard to prioritize growth and innovation when the bills are paid, payroll is met and there’s no clear threat on the horizon.
6 Benefits to Competition
- Validates your business and industry
- Increases consumption
- Inspires innovation
- Increases efficiency
- Businesses become more customer focused
- Consumers benefit from the competitive market
Real World Scenarios
Scenario 1: My competitor began to offer free trial lessons to boost fall enrollment. I explored 3 different options.
- Make the same offer
- Counter with a better offer
- Do nothing
My competitors’ strategy was to give away their product for free. Free devalues a product. Lowering prices and giving away stuff is a race to the bottom.
I went with the scarcity model. I responded with what I felt was a better offer. “First lesson free if you enroll by Sept 15”. This creates urgency. The offer is only meaningful to a qualified buyer. Free lessons are meaningful to people looking for free stuff.
Be obsessively focused on your competitors while ignoring them. In other words, know your rivals’ products, market positioning, and financial status, and how they engage users, but don’t constantly react to every move they make.
~Brad Feld, The Foundry Group
Imitate or Innovate
Scenario 2: My competitor offers rock band classes. I offer rock band classes. We both rent nightclubs and put on concerts. They put on more concerts and in bigger venues. Should I imitate or innovate? More concerts and bigger venues would create more headaches and bigger expenses.
My response, Saturday night socials. I now offer two annual Saturday night social events at my studio as an effort to strengthen the schools’ culture. It includes an open mic, bands, popcorn, pizza, door prizes, and games. Parents show up at the end of the night for a performance with the kids singing backed by one of the school bands.
This event creates a unique moment that my competitor does not. It upped the ante by creating a unique experience that is more social than a concert. It’s a night to remember of friends and good times.
This is an easy enough idea for my competition to replicate and benefit from. No one cares who came up with the idea first. Once upon a time a piano teacher came up with the idea of having a recital. His/her competitor caught wind of this recital thing and copied it. Every good idea has a source.