Going into business means having to face many competitors before getting to the top. These days, it is not enough to just fight your way up. You need to do research and become an original. Discover why originality can be your competitive advantage and how you can find that through competitive analysis. On top of that, find out why it can also be the most dangerous principle to sales and marketing. Competition may seem difficult to overcome; but with a little understanding, you will realize that the dirty little secret to billions is on how competition is the fastest and easiest way to become profitable in business.
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Sam’s Dirty Little Secret to Billions
The Story Of Sam Walton
This is the way I heard the story of the world’s wealthiest man or woman, but because he had children, he never showed up number one on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest people on Earth. His name is Sam Walton and his company was called Walmart and Sam’s Club. I met him once and I actually did business with him. How did this guy from Bentonville, Arkansas, not the wealthiest state in the United States or the wealthiest city, create such a profitable company in the world of retail?
Here’s the way I heard it. What Sam did is he had a single propeller plane. He would fly over the parking lots of other five and dime stores, which as what Walmart was. It was called a five and dime store. Low prices, but high value. He would look for parking lots in Arkansas and possibly other states that were full.
If they weren’t full of cars parked, he would keep flying. If they were full, he would land his plane, possibly in a field nearby. He would go inside and see what they did. If you’re a marketer, if you’re in business, then your intuition is not your best friend. Observation is your best friend.
What Sam Walton did is he walked into the stores of his competitors and learned what they did. If you steal from one source, that’s called plagiarism. If you steal from many sources, that’s called research. Sam Walton was a researcher. This is in the early days.
As he walked into these other five and dime stores, he got ideas that were working because the stores were full. They were profitable because their parking lots were full of cars. What a great idea. Many people usually silo themselves and think, “I want to be original. I’m going to have a competitive advantage by being original.”
The advertising genius who created and actually is acknowledged as the father of the Unique Selling Proposition, USP Rosser Reeves. Look him up. He was a good friend of David Ogilvy. He lived in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and he lived in Manhattan.
He said originality is the most dangerous principle in sales and marketing. I’m paraphrasing. The reason why that’s so important is that the only way to have a competitive advantage is to observe the competition, know what they’re doing, then do it better.
It’s the fastest and easiest way to become more profitable. They’ve gone through all the research, they have wasted money on things, concepts, tactics and strategies that don’t work. Many times, there’s ego involved with the entrepreneur or small business owner, and they want to do it on their own.
I’m telling you, if that’s you, you’re more likely to go broke than to survive and even thrive in the world of business. I got a chance to interview him. I got a chance to do business with him. He has Sam’s Club, which is the club level for businesses like a Costco for the Walmart stores, then he’s got Walmart. He would go into small cities with 30,000 to 60,000 population, and he would be the number one employer and he would have the best prices in town.
He would get a bad reputation for putting other people out of business, but he was smarter because he was able to create a concept that works by learning what the competition did and then have an advantage over them. You can’t have a competitive advantage if you don’t know what your competitors are doing. You can’t have a unique selling proposition unless you know the proposition of your competitors.
[bctt tweet=”If you don’t have competitors, you don’t have a business.” username=””]
Many times, when I’m at an event overseas or even domestically here in the United States, I have people that come up to me and say, “Alex, I have this unique idea. There’s nothing like it in the world. I have no competitors.” I look at them and I feel a level of sorrow because I know they’re going to fail because if you have no competition, there’s no way that you are going to thrive in any market. Only competition allows you to note that a market exists.
I’m not saying that you can be an Amazon.com like Jeff Bezos has become, but he had his competition. He just outflanked them, he outsmarted them, he out priced them. That’s what Sam Walton did by looking at marketing tactics that other five and dime stores, retail stores were doing that were competing with Walmart.
Having a greeter at the front door was something that he learned by being in the store of his competition. Having an IT communication process where he had a weekly invocation to all his employees on a big screen. That is something he learned through the competition.
He learned what products were selling, not selling at the register and in the aisles. He spent more time in the stores of his competition than he did in his own stores. He managed by wandering around. That’s actually a management style that many people have talked about and written books about.
The goal for you is to notice what your competitors are doing, just like Sam Walton did, but not competitors who are not making money, competitors who are making money. If you get direct mail in your mailbox, that’s the snail mailbox at your home or apartment and you keep getting the same offer, again and again, many people get irritated by that. When I get that, I know that offer is working because there’s no way the company would spend money on that offer unless it was working.
Keep junk mail, subscribe to your competitor’s emails and offline communications. Go into your competitor’s stores, buy your competitor’s products. Call that research so you know what’s happening because that’s what Sam did. Sam built the most valuable and most profitable retail store chain in the entire world.
They would be number one on the Forbes 400 wealthiest men and women on earth. He had children and so what they did is they had that fortune divvied up amongst them. Retail is a very tough business, but what made him successful is learning what other people are doing. That’s my wish for you.
Experience Is The Only Teacher
The Alexism for this is that experience is not the best teacher. I’m sure you’ve heard that. I think that’s a lie. Experience is not the best teacher. Experience is the only teacher. If you read a book, that’s not enough. If you go to an event that has you experience that book, then that’s a much better teacher.
My good friend, T. Harv Eker, created Millionaire Mind Intensive, which is alive and well. That is from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth. That was a book and the experience was the event. By going to the event, then there’s the opportunity to buy what he calls Quantum Leap, which I actually assisted him in and what Quantum Leap looks like and how to offer it.
The majority of people that go to a Millionaire Mind Intensive or MMI end up purchasing Quantum Leap. I get to train them for Guerrilla Business Intensive overseas, which is a three-day or a five-day event. It’s a re-purposing concept, but it’s no different than what Sam Walton did.
[bctt tweet=”If you’re a marketer in business, then your intuition is not your best friend; observation is.” username=””]
Experience is not the best teacher. It’s the only teacher. If you have children, you know it’s true. If you have teenagers, you know it’s true. Remember that plagiarism is just borrowing from one source. Research is borrowing from many sources. I want you to be a researcher. It’s worth asking this question with your team because you want to hire for attitude and train for skill as you learned in a previous episode.
You want to ask yourself this world-class question, which is not, “How do I protect my products or how do I protect my content? How do I protect my services so no one else steals from me?” That’s not a good question because in nowadays environment, everyone has access to what you have and they’ll figure out a way to do it. The better question is, “How do I make money after other people steal from me?” That may sound counterintuitive but consider this.
I remember going to Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. When you go to some of the rides that are thrilling, let’s say Space Mountain, there’s a picture that’s taken at the very end of the ride that is at the heightened and most emotional part of the ride where you’re going. That’s the moment where you tell yourself, “That was fun.”
They take a picture and then you have a choice to buy it or not. They do this at the Six Flags Magic Mountain, other Six Flags amusement park. They do this in Australia at the Gold Coast. They have a bunch of amusement parks there where I had been to and they do this at Knott’s Berry Farm in the United States. They also do this at the Disney parks.
What I’ve observed is Disney is the only amusement park that doesn’t have a problem of the people who just got off the ride and take a picture of that heightened moment of thrill when they were terrified. It’s like at the very end every amusement park doesn’t let you take pictures.
They even say it don’t take pictures of the screen, but at Disneyland, they have these token employees who are behind the counter. Some people buy the hard copy pictures, but most people go and just take pictures of themselves on the television because there are usually many TVs. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m saying. What did they do with that? Why does Disneyland allow that? How do you make money when people steal from you?
They send it out on Twitter, they send it out on Facebook, they send it out on LinkedIn and they send it out on any social media via email to their friends. Little Johnny says, “Mom, I told you I wanted to go with Alex.” They see that defining moment that was so thrilling for you. The question isn’t, “How do I protect my content? How do I protect my products or services?” The question is, “How do I make money when people steal from me?”
When I had a $2,500 product via teleseminars called TeleSeminar Secrets, I made $14 million from it between 2006 and 2010. People would steal the username and password. In fact, somewhere between 12% to 15% of the people who consume that product were thieves. I had no problem with that because if anyone stole from me, I would have about $100 to $150 a month of recurring monthly revenue as a result of taking that course.
The one thing about thieves versus honest people is thieves follow through. They stole, they would buy the back-end products with more intention and commitment than the people who actually paid for the course. It was amazing. Don’t ask, “How do I protect content?” Ask, “How do I make money when people steal?”
It’s not about being original. It’s about doing research. Research is the most overlooked part of becoming an ethical influencer. All selling aside, research is the key and that Sam’s dirty little secret to billions for himself and his family. He’s no longer living on earth, but I’m sure he’s looking down and smiling.
[bctt tweet=”If you steal from one source, that’s called plagiarism. If you steal from many sources, that’s called research.” username=””]
Here’s a review about the specific insights you and I discovered. Number one, do research. Get a sense of situational awareness about where your competitors are and spend that time. It doesn’t make you less of a marketer or a salesperson. It makes you more of one because you know what they have.
Number two, having a competitive advantage is only possible by being better than them. That’s what advantage means. If you don’t study them, how are you going to have a competitive advantage? The third, before you start any project, buy from your competitors because if you don’t have any competitors, you don’t have a business.
That is the best research and development investment you can make. Buying your competitor’s products and putting it on a table or looking inside your inbox. Remember, these insights can only work for you if you work them. That’s your review.
I want you to go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes if you have an iPhone or go to AllSellingAside.com/Stitcher if you have an Android phone and type in your biggest takeaway, if you haven’t done. Type in the a-ha moment you’ve experienced.
You’re not the same person you were. I don’t want you to be a faster crawling caterpillar. I want you to be a butterfly. You can do this by declaring what your a-ha moment was in the reviews section. Go ahead, declare your one big takeaway and it will just take three minutes out of your day, but what you declare could provide you a lifetime of learning.
I have one final gift for you in honor of this. That is all about a complimentary book that took me 25 years to write, but you can read it in 25 minutes. It’s titled Alexisms: Useful Life Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur, which is me. You can instantly download it at no cost at AlexismsBook.com. You can also get it on Amazon hardcover or softcover, but why pay for something when you can get it for free? That does it.
I hope our paths cross again for All Selling Aside, dedicated to making ethical influence within your reach so that you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential. Sales is not a dirty word. Sales is the meaning and purpose of your business.
Please do whatever it takes to join me next time because our topic will be five famous influencer dropouts. I’m talking about dropouts from college and high school who became billionaires. I encourage you to invite a friend or bring a study buddy so that you can engage with them on the notes and become a better ethical influencer. I can’t wait to connect with you and I hope you read the other episodes. All good wishes and good sales.