What do you want your competition to know about your strategy?

Try to appear harmless, or inevitable to your competition

One of the roles of top management is communicating their strategy to align their organisation, customers and partners. What do you want your competitors to hear?

What message do you think will best undermine the competitors’ will to fight?

Where you have a leadership position, it will deter attacks if you clearly communicate the market positions and value propositions that will be defended at all costs. A stubborn and vengeful competitive reputation can be the cheapest defence in the long run.

A reputation for inevitability can be used on offence too, by cultivating a reputation as a relentless steamroller – once you are committed, you will win, the only choice for competitors is between a long and expensive losing fight or a quick surrender.

An opposite approach would work for a start-up attacking from a weak position. Your challenge is to establish yourself before the incumbent can bring their superior resources to bear to block you. So you should keep your “thin-end-of-the wedge” attack path, objectives and ambition hidden for as long as possible. You can encourage the competition’s natural desire to believe that your ambition is limited to a small niche of their least attractive customers.

You want to convince competitors that you are either harmless or invincible – or best of all, both at the same time. Their biggest reaction will come when they think you are a threat they can do something about.

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