Run your own race, don’t be a Doppelgänger

Many businesses struggle to attract new clients even though they invest more money in advertising. Why?

Well, have you ever tried sticking an elephant down a drainpipe?

If you have, you are not alone. At a guess I would say around 90% of businesses try this, if not consistently, at least a few times in their career.

You see, majority of business owners wrongly go into business to compete with other businesses.

They say “I think there is an opportunity in this industry to make a better widget” or “It “looks” like XYZ business is making a lot of money, I’m going to start up in competition and give better service”

This is like running the 100-meter sprint and saying “I’ll just follow the others and see how they do it, then talk to the race officials, tell them I tried my best to compete and see if they will give me the medal”

What the heck am I talking about, Doppelgängers, Elephants, and running races?

I’m talking about the same thing I wrote about in my post incremental breakthroughs, but in a different context.

One of the things I see businesses consistently do, is look what the competition are doing and then make something marginally better.

Guess what?

The competition are looking back at them and they see the slight improvement, so they go back and make their business, their offering or their pricing marginally better.

And the time sucking, focus blinding, emotional vampirial cycle business mediocrity continues…

What if, instead, we put all this time and energy into creating something different, something fresh, something so damn compelling that your audience couldn’t help but fall over each other to throw money at you?

This would mean that you spend less on marketing (or the same and have a multiplied result), your customers become raving evangelists and send all their current and future friends, family to you and the best part, you can charge what you are worth, because you are not “competing” with anyone.

An example of this – (If you have been any local markets you may have seen this) A food trailer selling potatoes for $7 each, with no filling, no sauce, no guacamole, but yet they have the biggest line of customers in the whole place.

Even if you have seen this live, you still say to yourself (or out loud) “WHAT THE…?”

What they do is take a potato and put it on a stick, then put it through a special cutting device which spirals the whole potato. They end up with a stick with potato spiralled around it like a Christmas tree.

The dip this in a deep fryer for a minute then hand it to you and gladly take your $7 for it. And they are flat out!


Because it is completely different, but yet still fills a need for the customer. This is a breakthrough business.

Now, imagine if they owner, instead started yet another baked potato food van. And said “We are going to offer the same thing as the “competition” but ours are going to be better because we are going put in extra effort and make our sauce at home.”

“We are also going to use only locally grown potatoes and we are going to sell them for $9.50 instead of $10 like everyone else.”

“And to make sure we attract the most customers we are going to put a big red sign on our purple van, with the words “We have the best potatoes”.”

Do you think they would be able to replicate the success of Christmas tree potato man?

Most definitely not. Why?

Because there are still only the same amount of people that want a baked potato. Just because you have a business that is 10 % or 20% better, it won’t make more people come and buy potatoes.

As entrepreneurs if we want to excel, if we want to be stand out exception that everyone raves about, we either need to change the game or start an entirely new game.

Imagine you are standing on the top of a mountain range and down below you to the left you can see gold coins scattered all over the ground. You then look over to the right and you see the same amount of gold coins scattered all over the ground, except on this side of the mountain range there are hundreds of people already picking up the coins.

Which would you choose?

The obvious answer left, but so many people look at what others are doing and get sucked into thinking they need to offer the same thing. And I’m not just talking about people starting out in business, this is even more applicable to you if you are in a business that is being commoditised by inexperienced “competitors” that are trying to compete on price.

Let me put it simply – It is NOT our job as entrepreneurs and marketers to make our businesses look better than the competition, it is job to make our businesses look completely different.

It’s at that point of differentiation that you have a consistent line of 50 people waiting to give you $7 each for a 30 cent potato.

It’s at that point that your marketing goes viral and your customers (and yet to be customers) are send more people to your business than any advertising can ever muster.

But how?

Here is some food for thought to get you heading the right direction.

Look to different industries, sports, music, plays, movies and ask yourself “How can I apply their concepts to my business?”

Get a piece of paper, lay it down landscape (widest left to right) and draw 2 lines down the middle, so you have 3 columns.

On the left at the top put “What are my competition doing?”

On the middle at the top put “What is the opposite of this?”

On the right at the top put “How can I apply this to my business?”

Then fill in each column fully from left to right (1 full column at a time, not horizontally).

There are many different strategies I could share for becoming more unique in your market, but just start with this one because there is a lot of value to be had by doing this one properly.


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Share the love..
  Samuel Junghenn  /    January 29, 2014  /   Entrepreneurial, Marketing  /   4 Comments
  • January 30, 2014 at 12:19 am / Reply

    I enjoyed reading your introduction (teaser) and now I really look forward to the next step. Your words make a lot of sense to me. Thanking you in advance. Chat soon.
    If you have a moment can we please have a telephone chat: (02) 8084-8312.

    • January 30, 2014 at 1:24 am /

      Thanks Graham, glad you enjoyed it!
      I am booked up all today and tomorrow but I will organise someone to touch base today.

  • January 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm / Reply

    Insight as always. Signed up and ready to go!

    • January 31, 2014 at 1:46 am /

      You are going to love it Mike. I look forward to hearing your success stories from it!

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