Your Biggest Competition Is Noise

December 12, 2013 Steve Woodruff

It’s very natural for people in business to spend a good bit of time worrying about what “the competition” is doing.

As you survey the landscape of what you’re competing against, however, I suggest that other companies should probably occupy no more than 25% of your attention.

Because your biggest competition isn’t the competition. It’s the noise in your client’s or prospect’s mind.

You’re competing with the boss—and kids, a schedule, office politics, the latest health problem, the job search, a fantasy football league, tomorrow’s big presentation, an upcoming vacation, an overloaded e-mail inbox… and so on. Your clients aren’t spending a massive amount of time thinking about your competitors. What is occupying your clients’ time and attention and energy is the distracting swirl of life and business.

Don’t believe me? Monitor what’s coursing through your brain for the next 2 minutes. See what people who are fighting for your attention are up against?

In short, your enemy is distracted attention. If you’re not standing out from the whirlwind of “stuff” that surrounds every client, you’ll be swallowed up in the noise.

So, we all have a common competitive issue. The signal-to-noise ratio. How do we put forth such a clear signal that we stand out in the minds of our clients?

The most important realization that we must come to is that other people only have a very small box to put us into. In my mind, you’re going to get one memory space, one mental pixel.

If you force me to figure you out, I’ll probably get it wrong. So simplify it by giving me one clear and vivid summary.

You’ll make it through the noise if your message is punchy. Appealing. Tangible. Aspirational. Memorable. You need to get the point across quickly. Because I can only give you a short window of time and one mental hook to hang you on.

The greatest need isn’t to add to the noise. It’s to distill to a simple, compelling, and memorable signal. By developing micro-statements and using analogies, you can gain memory space and beat your biggest competition: noise.

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