We fear, we need, and we are
driven to destroy our competitors. That’s it. That’s the
Whoever you perceive to be your
competition must at some level evoke fear, otherwise you
would not even put them in the competition category. Why
do we “need” competition? Without it we become stagnant,
we fail to face challenges, and we are pushed into a relaxed
state where the idea flow and motivation shift into neutral.
That’s not a place where you want to be if you seek growth.
We can approach life as if we
haven’t any competition, which is certainly an option, but
it’s analogous to walking out into the ocean believing you
won’t get wet. Sure, you can make the walk, but ignoring
the water doesn’t make it go away.
There are some strange philosophical
dilemmas that surface when we really explore this topic.
We want to destroy our competitors, yet, if they go away,
we are competition free which we already determined is not
where we want to be. So what is the best way to approach
this? Let’s better understand our own abilities, our own
internal systems that lead us to prosperity, and the control
we have over framing issues and concepts so we become better
empowered to address and master them.
We are capable of facing fear.
Watch Jaws and you’ll think twice before going out into
the ocean for a midnight swim, but with the summoning up
of courage and a compelling enough reason to face the fear,
most of us would be able to at least get our feet wet.
We don’t ignore the existence of the sharks, and while we
can overcome the potential paralysis the fear can evoke,
we move forward with trepidation and determination, never
forgetting what may lie beneath the surface.
Now that we agree we are capable
of facing fear, let’s throw in the compelling reason for
doing so. Let’s suppose the only available food was on
an island ½ mile away, and you had to walk or swim across
a small segment of the ocean to get to the island.
We have a clear destination and
if we arrive on that island we are successful. So we have
fear and we have need.
Let’s make the scenario just
a little more interesting. Let’s assume that the waters
around the island are filled with sharks. At any given
moment you can see those threatening fins skimming the surface.
You realize you need to get to the island, you fear the
sharks, but you can enter the water prepared. Perhaps you
arm yourself with a spear gun, perhaps you have some sort
of mobile cage that is impenetrable and shoots explosive
devices guaranteed to send sharks to shark heaven, or perhaps
you order a can of “Shark Away” miracle spray sold on an
infomercial for only $29.99. OK, forget the Shark Away.
At least for now. We’ll address infomercials in a short
while, but let’s stay on track.
Given the scenario I laid out,
you have need (food on an island) fear (of sharks) and a
desire to destroy.
Now let’s integrate what we think
of when we think of competition. Suppose a mile down the
beach someone just as strong as you, just as smart as you,
and just as good a swimmer as you is starving and has identified
the food. Now you have to be fast, you have to tap deep
into your powers of creativity, and you have to establish
maintain an edge. If we take all of those elements and
transfer them to an analysis of our business, we find the
ground is ripe for a very concise analogy.
In business we want to know our
destination. In fact, we need to know our destination.
We want to be driven and motivated and we benefit by finding
a compelling reason to take calculated risks. We are served
by the fear that someone else, a competitor, might arrive
out our destination before we do. We know if we’re going
to reach the pinnacle of success we are going to have to
establish and maintain an edge. We are willing to do what
it takes. All of those elements make for a potentially
strong platform for business success.
BACK TO THE ISLAND
In order to set in motion a course
of action in dealing with our competitors, let’s shift back
to the shark infested waters for a moment. If in pursuing
the food we need, we use our spear gun to destroy a shark
or two, we have not made the threat go away, we have simply
carved a path for ourselves to get through.
So at times, you don’t have to
destroy the whole of your competition, but you can benefit
greatly by walking a line your competitors can not walk
(or swim, whatever the case may be). Selective destruction
or the establishment of a position of power in a given area
can weaken the threat of any competitor. That’s one alternative.
Let’s take another approach.
Suppose we think this through and realize we have the ability
to make fire, we have a spear gun, and we happen to like
seafood very much. Couldn’t we make a simple adjustment
that no longer makes the guy down the beach a competitor?
Sure! We can feast on shark. So another alternative is
to change the territory.
A third approach might involve
a meeting. Suppose you sit down with the other starving
man and decide that while you both make the journey, one
will focus on moving forward, the other will focus on keeping
the sharks at bay. You’ll then share the food and work
together to cultivate a system for providing meals for days,
weeks, and months to come. This offers a third alternative.
You eliminate your competition, not by hostile destruction,
but by forming a win-win alliance.
There are three ways we can effectively
deal with competition.
- Selective destruction or the
establishment of a position of power in a given area can
weaken the threat of any competitor.
- We can change the territory
- We can create allies so our
competitors participate in a win-win
With a buy-in of the theories
I’ve discussed this far, I can assure you dealing with competition
is relatively easy. The hard part in dealing with competition
isn’t as much the plan of action, but rather the identification
of the enemy. Sure, there are sharks that swim with their
dorsal fins above water, but the ones that lie beneath,
the most dangerous, don’t always readily identify themselves.
“OTHER FITNESS PROFESSIONALS”
When I ask trainers who their
competitors are, the response is usually “other trainers.”
I don’t see other fitness professionals as my competitors.
I actually see them as allies. As the territory changes,
my perception of the inherent risk upon the health of my
business created by the presence of other fitness professionals
may very well change, but with the state of the industry
being what it is, I have yet to meet even a single trainer
I would call a professional whom I have personally deemed
to be a competitor. There are those “trainers” who would
not fall under the heading of “professional,” and they are
yet in a new category which I’ll address shortly.
Before I go further into my own
views, let me turn the focus back to you. Who is your competition?
Who is the potential enemy of your business? Is the enemy
making his or her or itself apparent, or is the enemy elusive?
Once you identify who the enemy is, you then have to ask
where that enemy might be.
Once you’ve clearly identified
your competition, there’s one final question that precedes
the actions you’ll take to address the enemy. With a clear
distinction made, a clear identification of who the competitor
at hand is, is it better to embrace it, disempower it, or
IDENTIFYING THE ENEMY
Are other trainers your competitors?
I believe if you said they are, you’re selling yourself
short, putting yourself not in a category of elite trainers,
but of fitness wave riders. Sure, there are many who will
enter the field, believing they are professionals because
they have a love for fitness, but without the commitment
to succeed, without a self governing morality, and without
an exceptional ability to help people achieve results, few
of them will ever rise beyond the level of an also-ran.
I know subscribers to this newsletter have already escalated
themselves above the also-rans. They are elite professionals
or they’re already on the path.
I often use the analogy of medical
professionals to illustrate some of the views that are prevalent
among professionals in other fields yet absent in our own.
When I spoke before the Cardio Thoracic Surgeons Association,
was I speaking to a field of competitors? It certainly
didn’t appear that way. They were at this conference seeking
to further not only their own education, but also the impact
their field as a whole had on medicine. They are peers.
They are allies. If they spent their energies figuring
out how to shoot each other down, how to steal patients,
and how to prove their independent superiorities, cardio
thoracic medicine might still be in the stone age.
I see amateur trainers bad-mouthing
each other far too often. It’s clear to me that our entire
field needs to escalate its position in the public eye,
and that can only happen when the elite professionals find
unity, not as competitors, but as allies working to grow
independently by furthering the field, and everyone with
this perspective benefits in the process. Here’s an area
where I’ve found a unity to offer the most powerful solution.
With that said, the also-rans,
those trainers who are polluting public perception by carrying
business cards that offer the same titles as ours do, they
are in fact the enemy. No, we don’t want to obliterate
them, but we can create a massive rift between what we do
and what they do. Here’s where positioning becomes vital.
By getting yourself on television, radio, and in print,
by conducting seminars and positioning yourself as an authority,
and by making certain you stand before the fitness wanting
public, not as a “trainer for hire,” but rather as an expert
who serves as a resource for basic understandable truth,
you will join forces with the other fitness professionals
who jointly will escalate our ability to connect with the
medical community, to set up a nucleus of “pre-hab” that
takes the concept of “wellness” the next level, and to stand
very much as doctors and lawyers do as the icons that proudly
represent the best the fitness industry has to offer.
As we recognize those also rans
as a potential detriment to our livelihood, we should do
everything in our power to widen the rift. Anyone who stands
on our side of it is an ally, anyone who is across the great
chasm a foe. In our media appearances and our writing opportunities,
we should bring to light the importance of selecting a “fitness
professional” as opposed to a “trainer for hire.” We should
be very comfortable explaining the differences between credible
certifications and money-making certificate sellers. We
should stand to maintain our own standard of excellence
and work together to set that standard as a definable line
between “professionals” and “trainers for hire.”
So when dealing with the prospect
of the competition of other trainers:
- Change the territory for the
“trainers for hire”
- Create alliances with the
ARE HEALTH CLUBS OUR COMPETITORS?
It’s all a matter of perspective.
If we’re defining competition as, “someone or something
who is taking money from individuals we are capable of helping
in the promotion of our business by making promises of the
precise result we deliver,” the answer would be yes, but
with a shift in perception we can instantly turn them into
Health clubs are competitors
if they are viewed as “solutions.” We know the truth. They
are not solutions, they are facilities. Facilities are
locations where solutions may or may not be available, but
the only value in a membership is in the ability to enter
a building. As people sit in their homes watching national
health club advertisements showing hot sweaty fit bodies,
the perception will remain skewed, and that’s the power
the national chains have. Because we do not have the financial
wherewithal the national health club chains have, we can’t
beat them at their own game. To attempt to compete head
to head would be unrealistic, but here’s where a strategic
alliance can nullify the negative impact a health club can
have upon your business. Position yourself as an ally where
the club prospers as you do and the competition element
is gone completely.
“You keep an eye on the sharks,
I’ll lead us to the food.” It’s a win-win where the rewards
“You keep driving memberships
and I’ll lead members to their results, to renewals, and
to referrals.” It’s a fantastic strategy that allow you
to root for the health club as it continues to enroll new
members, and puts the ownership in your corner as they realize
you are the vehicle to member longevity and enhanced lifetime
SO WHO ARE OUR REAL COMPETITORS?
In my mind, we have tens of thousand
of competitors, but they all stand under the same umbrella.
They are those who aggressively market fitness products
and solutions with fraudulent or deceptive claims. They
are the sharks in the water. They are the enemies along
If we all lived in beach communities
where food was available only on islands suspended in shark-infested
water, it would only take days until the sellers of “Shark
Away” miracle spray started earning their millions. It
would be all over QVC, on late night and Sunday afternoon
infomercials, and in inserts in the Sunday newspapers.
It would show up in direct mail pieces, in multi-level-marketing
programs, and on “new” internet sites with “special offers.”
What would the end result be?
Lots of people would get eaten by sharks and the sellers
of the product would be living in mansions with refrigerated
storehouses filled with food.
While that example seems far
fetched, it is a very real illustration of how the “solution
sellers” operate. They offer Oil of Oregano as a cancer
cure, Sea Silver liquid vitamin / mineral supplement as
a solution for reducing risk of heart disease, and veterinary
products which can legally be sold by mail order as AID’s
cures. They offer wafers, cookies, and collagen as great
weight loss cures. They find a vulnerable market, an inexpensive
product, and they go to town using fraud and deception to
get the vulnerable to part with money.
They are in fact our competitors.
They are clouding the minds of our true prospects, sending
people we are capable of helping on wild goose chases believing
the magic lies in some potion. They deserve the sharpest
edge of our marketing swords, and our ability to battle
these actual competitors lies in our willingness to cling
tightly to two things:
- Our ability to scream at the
top of our lungs
By sharing truth, consistently,
and by screaming with all the fervor we can muster, we can
reap the benefits facing our competitors has to offer, and
while we can create alliances to nullify the competitive
nature of other trainers and health clubs, when we do battle
with this unethical ill-directed core of true competitors,
we should turn to other means. Remember:
Selective destruction or the
establishment of a position of power in a given area can
weaken the threat of any competitor.
We will not eliminate them completely,
but we will clear a path by focusing on aggressive education
and a willingness to jump into the arena revealing those
who can not stand up to careful scrutiny. Our goal in battling
these actual competitors lies in a word I use frequently,
By empowering people you destroy
the impact of your competition, but thankfully, new competitors
will emerge. Welcome that new competition. It brings
you a renewed motivation and a new moving target. By the
time you’ve destroyed the impact of one competitor, you’ve
then developed a system or methodology for dealing with
competition on an ongoing basis, so you’ll continue to fear,
need, and destroy, and you’ll grow in the process!
I hope I did what I strive to
do most. I hope I got you thinking. We start with a riddle,
we wind up in deep thought, and that’s precisely where I
wanted you to go. With a new perspective on competition,
we can further unify as “the ground army,” increasing our
impact upon the health and fitness of our customers and