Are You Afraid of Your Competitors?

If you are in business, you would most certainly have competitors. You cannot escape them. Every industry has them and sometimes you cannot ignore them.

I had a good laugh last year when I saw the extent of price competition on two homegrown hypermarkets in Subang Jaya. While Carrefour is a competitor for Giant hypermarket in many ways, they were both located at different areas. As such, the competition, although distinct, was still negligible. Those who shopped at Carrefour would have been those who had just walked across from Subang Parade. Those who shopped at Giant would be those who really wanted to buy their groceries from Giant as it was still a long walk away from Carrefour.

Anyway, I suppose it was all fine until Mydin decided to build its hypermarket building right next door to Giant! Besides creating such a buzz (and causing a long line of traffic along the narrow road fronting these two hypermarkets), Mydin has always been known for its low prices. In a word, if you wanted cheap, you would run to Mydin. Giant used to be affordable for the average middle-class Malaysian but Mydin was even more affordable. The price war is obvious. In Mydin, you’d see prices of goods compared with their “neighbour” (of course everyone chuckles because they know who this “neighbour” is!).

Unfortunately for Giant, the curious folk who wanted to take a look at what Mydin had to offer would park their vehicles in the Giant parking lot (free parking) and saunter over to Mydin! (Mydin had its own free parking bays but they weren’t enough to cope with the onslaught of people, especially on weekends).

To deal with this, Giant thought up a clever idea – it posted signages that if you parked in their parking bays, you had to be a customer of Giant. On your way out of Giant, you had to show the security guards your receipt, proof that you did buy something from Giant. If you couldn’t do so, you would be charged RM10 for parking. Well, it wasn’t fair but then again, it wasn’t fair for Mydin’s customers to use Giant’s parking bays either.

Anyway, speaking of competitors, we have our share too. After all, everyone seems to be a web designer these days. And in Penang, boy, do you get a whole load of designers.

Three months ago, I received this email from a manager of a firm who wanted to revamp his company website and could I meet him to discuss matters. I drove over to Seberang Perai where I met him and we spoke at length about the intended website revamp. Later I found out that this particular manager was actually a competitor. He was working for a web design firm over on the Penang mainland.

Oh the irony! A web design firm which purportedly designs websites for its clients had to ask us at Redbox Studio to help design theirs! Of course I refused to have anything to do with these people once I found out (and here’s how I found out – he accidentally sent me email using his company email address!) and I quoted him a cost estimate atrocious enough for him to fall off his chair. After all, two can tango eh?

But it is a good laugh because it just shows that even bigger web design firms cannot even design their own websites. (By the way, this is a true story. If anyone needs proof, I can give you a screenshot of the emails that guy sent me.)

So, yes, even we have our share of competitors. But even if you have competitors, you don’t have to worry about them – it’s how you choose to deal with them that matters.

Our competitor thought he could snoop and do a price check on us but you know what, he actually supplied us with more ‘arsenal’ – we tell this story to our clients and prospects (with actual email proof) to show that so-called web design firms like Spxxxxxxc can’t even re-design their own website!

This firm isn’t the first either. Last October, I got a call from a guy who ran his own web design firm but wanted us to design theirs! He refused to tell his firm’s name which is plain fine with us because we are not web-savvy for nothing. A quick check on Google told us what we needed to know about this person. (By the way, if you or your business is not online and cannot be found online, you might as well be invisible and non-existent. I know, it’s terrible but this is the Net generation after all.)

On one end, we are definitely pleased – we are the web design firm that other web design firms rely on! On the other hand, it just shows what sort of web designers you have in the market these days. Absolutely mystifying!

Or perhaps their own design isn’t pulling in the results they need?

Makes you wonder hmmm?

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