Sink or Swim: How to Survive in a Competitive Marketplace


It’s a shark-eat-shark world out there. Every business wants to shore up its corner of the market by sinking its teeth into that perfect differentiator. But that’s much more easily done when you’re a big fish in a small pond versus one of many vying for supremacy in the same waters. While competition drives innovation, creativity, and customer-oriented approaches, it also puts a lot of pressure on brands to stand out and deliver serious value.

In honor of Discovery’s Shark Week, here’s how to channel your inner predator to carve out your niche in a competitive marketplace.

What Kind of Shark Are You?

Different sharks are specialized in different ways. Angel sharks lurk at the bottom of the ocean, eating crustacea while basking sharks siphon up huge amounts of krill. Hammerheads hunt stingrays and great whites love shallow waters. They’re all sharks, but they’re all powerfully differentiated, with their own unique attributes, preferred environments, and prey. To survive in a competitive market, your brand needs to know what kind of shark it is, along with where you stand in the market, and what kind of audience you’re striving to reach.

How Well Do You Know Your Prey?

As apex predators, sharks are incredible hunters. But it’s not just agility or sheer brute strength that makes them so successful. Sharks understand their prey completely. They not only know where to find them, but they know their prey’s routines and habits, together with how their prey moves, hides, and defends itself. Similarly, the brands that rise to the top of the food chain are the ones that have a deep knowledge of their audience – something that allows them to meet potential customers right where they are.

Who Is Eyeing Your Dinner?

Sharks may be solo predators, but they can find themselves on each other’s turf. Not only that, but sharks also have to contend with other large predators seeking out a tasty morsel in the depths of the ocean. Sharks always need to be aware of who else is circling and how to outswim them. The same is true for your brand. Standing out in a competitive marketplace isn’t just about building a great business. It’s about knowing what your competitors are doing. Always strive to stay current on your competition, and ensure that you’re doing what it takes to remain top shark.

Are You Using All of Your Senses?

Sharks are highly evolved predators that use all of the five senses – and then some – to hunt. In addition to having exceptional hearing and the ability to sense blood from miles away, they make use of electron sensing and mechanosensing to detect small movements or sense prey hidden in the sand. The brands that truly excel in the market do something similar. They build a solid brand identity, then develop a marketing strategy that spans multiple channels and touchpoints.

Do You Have a Pack?

Sharks are generally solitary hunters, but they’ve been known to band together when going after large prey such as seals. This same approach can be used by brands wanting to reach a larger audience or expand their capabilities. By partnering with other like-minded brands for cross-promotions or co-branded events, these businesses can tap into resources they wouldn’t otherwise have to land new customers or clients.

Standing out in a competitive market takes skill, knowledge, strategy, and careful adaptation. But by looking to one of the world’s most specialized predators for inspiration, your brand can make a killing – metaphorically, of course.

See Also:

The Loose Threads: Immediately Discover the Weaknesses in Your Business

7 Ways to Keep an Eye on Your Competition

How To Develop A Winning Business Strategy: Knowing What Not to Do

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