The Best Defense Is A Good Offense
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The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Competition could be described as one of the most common driving forces among living organisms. Animals compete for territory, mates, food, and hierarchy within species. People compete for promotions, jobs, scholarships, in sports and in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Countries compete for the consumer in the world marketplace as do individual small business owners. Progress in the technology world by a rival can send profits of a successful business into a state of panic causing them to plunge overnight or within a few days. When taking into account these and other factors, it can be concluded that business is an extremely competitive, volatile field. Because of this unpredictability and competitiveness, it is important to know the competitors within a business market.
In order to better assess the competition a business must recognize the difference between markets. It must identify both direct and indirect competition, both present and future. Once competitors are grouped then analyzing their marketing strategies and identifying their areas of vulnerability by examining their strengths and weaknesses would the next logical step. (Deloitte & Touche, 2003) This will help the business determine and distinguish its competitive advantage. The reasoning behind this step is to have clear who the target market is, what the market position is, and knowing exactly what will make the business unique to stand apart from competitors.
In the case of Kudler Fine Foods, Kathy did not consider her business to have direct competitors, which in itself is a mistake of major proportions.
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“No matter what you may think, you have competitors. Maybe not a direct competitor in the sense of a company offering an identical solution but at least a substitute. Fingers are a substitute for a spoon. First class mail is a substitute for e-mail. A coronary bypass is a substitute for an angioplasty.”(Hirai, 2002, p. 1) Failure to consider all types of competitors in the market can spell disaster for a business as it would leave it in the dark with new developments that could affect the market share of that particular business. Kathy even though she knew that there were businesses in the area that could compete for her market share, she did not believe they were competition for her business.
Another way that Kundler Fine Foods can fight and overcome the introduction of a new major competitor into the marketplace is analyzing and forecasting different trends through surveying customers in all the stores and comparing it to the products and services of existing competitors. Establishing a solid strategic canvas can have a tremendous effect in your approach towards handling prospective competitors. “A strategy canvas shows the strategic profile of your industry by depicting the various factors that affect competition. It shows the strategic profiles of your current and potential competitors as well as your own company's strategic profile and how it invests in the factors of competition and how it might be in the future.” (Kim & Mauborgne, 2002) This will aide in counteracting these changing trends keeping Kundler Fine Foods at the forefront of the marketplace.
Customer service can be a serious determining factor in the loyalty of current and new customers for Kudler Fine Foods. Implementation of seminars and trainings as well as direct oversight by a panel or Kathy herself for the company’s employees can greatly influence the improvement of customer service. “A great company from the consumer’s point of view should be defined as one offering excellent products or services, giving above average customer service and providing even better support than its competitors. It’s a straightforward definition but oh so misplaced.” (Kirk, n.d., ¶ 2) After a general overview about the market, a survey can help show which customers are responding to what services and which services can be omitted. This will show how many people within a defined area will be interested in the business products and services and how many of them will become customers within a defined timeframe. Again surveys among current and new customers can be of significant aide in this particular area as points of improvement and the assessment of customer satisfaction can be both satisfied this way.
Assessing the competition in a way that will create a significant advantage for the business is another factor that Kudler Fine Foods could benefit from. One way to do this is listing all the direct and indirect competitors in existence over the past 3 years. Then analysing competitors that have gone out of business in the past and determine why, will help KFF understand the competition's strengths and weaknesses which will be critical for establishing a product's or service's competitive advantage. If KFF finds a competitor is struggling, investigating why will help them to avoid making the same mistake. On the other hand, if the competitors is being highly successful, discussing in depth their product service quality, pricing, supply, reputation, size in sales or number of customers, and changes in market share and adopting or improving upon that success will guarantee KFF survival in the market, making it unique among the competition.
A good strategy to implement this monitoring of competitors and market is to start a file on each of the competitors. Keeping folders of their advertising and promotional resources and their pricing strategy system; reviewing these folders often, determining when and how frequently they advertise, support promotions and offer sales. For example, is their ad short, descriptive, eye catching, or how much are they willing to cut prices for sales? Using this system can help Kudler Fine Foods to be aware of competitors better and how they manage their businesses, helping themselves by staying ahead of the market and the competition that will inevitably come.
Deloitte, & Touche, (2003). Writing an Effective Business Plan. Manuscript submitted for publication. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/DI_writing%20business%20plan.pdf
Hirai, A. (2002). Why Business Plans Don’t Get Funded. About.com Entrepreneurs, 1. Retrieved from http://entrepreneurs.about.com/cs/businessplan/a/uc073103.htm
Kim, W., & Mauborgne, R. (2002, June). Charting Your Company's Future. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 80(6), 76-82. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from Business Source Complete database.
Kirk, K. (n.d.). Customer Service In Today’s Business Environment [Online exclusive]. CSM. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from http://www.customerservicemanager.com/customer-service-in-todays-business-environment.htm
Whatever you’re doing in life at any particular time, you’re either playing offense or defense. I remember hearing Gary Vaynerchuck use this sporting analogy when giving advice on how to hire great people. Being a sports fan, this concept really resonated with me – but you don’t necessarily need to be interested in sports to ‘get it’.
In this post you’ll learn advantages and disadvantages of each method. But before we determine which side of the field you’re playing on, it helps to get some clarity around what offense and defense means.
In the context of sports, offense is:
- The means or tactics used in attempting to score.
- The team in possession of the ball or puck, or those players whose primary duty is to attempt to score.
- Scoring ability or potential.
And defense is:
- The means or tactics used in trying to stop the opposition from scoring.
- The team or those players on the team attempting to stop the opposition from scoring.
- Defending ability or potential.
Basically, if you’re playing offense, you’re proactively looking to score. Conversely, if you’re playing defense you’re reactively trying to stop the opposition from scoring.
The keywords in this analogy are proactive and reactive. Being offensive minded means that you’re proactively looking for opportunities. Being defensive minded means that you’re reactively responding to threats.
So let’s bring this back to everyday living. Below I’ve created a table with some examples of what offense and defense looks like on a day-to-day basis:
Example 1 – Email
Defense – Responding to old un-actioned emails
Offense – Proactively sending emails with purpose looking for opportunities
Example 2 – Working with managers
Defense – Do exactly what your managers tells you
Offense – Proactively sending emails with purpose looking for opportunities
Example 3 – Cleaning your house
Defense – Tidying your house when it gets messy
Offense – Blocking out chunks of time to aggressively eliminate things that you don’t need
Example 4 – Finding a job
Defense – Waiting to apply for jobs that are posted on careers websites
Offense – Reaching out to prospective employers directly regardless of whether they have a job opening or not
Example 5 – Research paper
Defense – Start your paper two days before the deadline
Offense – Prepare your outline in advance, get feedback from teacher early and look to go deep on your topic
Is it better to play offense or defense?
When looking at the examples, it’s clear that anyone must play defense for any chance to win. We all need to respond to emails, execute requests from management and tidy our houses. Much like how a boxer must protect his face before he can get a chance to land a punch. Sometimes you might need a whole week setting up your defense. Maybe a year. But if all we do is play defense, we’ll always miss out on the opportunity to score.
Being offensive minded on the other hand means doing things that move the needle forward in your life. You’re essentially grabbing life with your own hands and making things happen as opposed to waiting for things to magically appear. In this mode, you take initiative to make things happen. At the same time, to much offense without any defense will mean that you’ll be extremely vulnerable and you’ll end up letting the everyday tasks and deadlines mount up to the point where it blows up in your face.
It’s important to recognise that both modes have their place and like any good athlete, you need to determine when it’s best to go on the offensive and when it’s more appropriate to hang back and protect your goal.
I know for me personally, I get caught up trying to play to much offense and subsequently burn out and let my defensive tasks mount. If I had a preference though, I’ll always look to score 😉 What about you? Are you typically offensive minded or defensive minded?
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