Stop worrying about the competition

The Yankees worry about the Red Sox. Microsoft worries about Apple. Heck, even Star Trek fans worry about Star Wars fans. Worrying, it seems, is a universal human condition.

So why is it any different when it comes to your credit union and the competition? For the most part, it’s not. Credit union executives and marketers routinely wake up and worry about what the competition down the street is doing. What are their rates going to be (gasp!)? What kind of new car promotion will they run this spring (shriek!)? Are they going to plant red and yellow flowers in their front flower bed again this year (eeek!)?

When you think about it, we spend an awful lot of time (and many would argue, too much time) worrying about what the competition is planning. This isn’t to negate the importance of due diligence and researching what the Joneses are scheming. What we are saying, however, is that an unhealthy fixation on the competition (and, even worse, mirroring our own plans and actions to them) isn’t good for anybody.

What are some ways you can stop worrying about the competition? Following are a few ideas to consider.

  • Celebrate your own victories, not being bummed out by the competition’s. If the bank or credit union down the street runs a really successful promotion, good for them. Look at it, learn from it, but don’t let it ruin your day. Comparing your own challenges (and yes, failures) to those of the competition is a losing proposition. Instead, focus on your own successes. Celebrate steps your credit union has taken to improve and any tangible (read, quantifiable) victories. Trumpeting your own successes is far healthier, psychologically, than getting bogged down unnecessarily and feeling like a loser.
  • Create your own success. Instead of mirroring your business plans and/or promotions and branding efforts on the competition, consider this unique approach — be yourself. That’s what branding is really all about, being yourself. Being untrue to your corporate identity as a credit union is being untrue to its very DNA. Instead of emulating what the competition is doing, strive to learn who you are as a credit union, what you do best and who you serve best — and then, create success for yourself in those areas. In this day and age of hyper-competition in financial services, differentiation is the best way for your credit union to set itself apart from the herd.
  • Start learning. Studying your competition is important. The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.” So, instead of being jealous over your competition’s success, learn from it. Check out the materials they produced. If possible, consider a mystery shop as part of this investigative process. Blind jealousy is not productive and leads to nothing. However, when you mold jealousy into curiosity and allow curiosity to seek answers, you learn from the success of others and can funnel that into success at your own credit union.

For the most part, worrying is an unhealthy and unproductive human condition. This applies both personally and in business. Taking steps now to stop worrying about what the competition is up to and instead creating new opportunities for your own credit union to thrive helps ensure continued success in the future.

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: Details