Ask This Question to Beat Your Competition

Business is a hard competition. Sometimes it’s winner take all. Often, it’s dividing an existing market. Once in a while, it’s sharing an expanding market.

Regardless, any business team worth its mettle is spending at least some time determining how to go to market better, maintain share leadership, increase share or build a new business. They’re also thinking about how to beat their competitors. That means you!

An executive at Dick’s Sporting Goods demonstrates how to practically boil down such critical strategic and competitor assessments. Steve Miller, SVP of Strategy, Ecommerce and Analytics, asks this powerful question, per Lisa Lacy writing in Adweek:

  • “If there was a store that would open next to us that would scare us, what would that store look like?”

This is simple. Direct. Easy for everyone to understand. So incredibly useful.

Do you and your team think this way? Do you ask yourselves this type of powerful, direct question? Or, are you hung up in fancy, time-consuming exercises that nobody likes to do and no one will look at afterwards?


The Dick’s question is a good example of “scenario planning,” an approach that I’ve found helpful in my career. When organized properly, this type of activity is practical and effective, and can easily be repeated as necessary. Some related question examples:

  • “Wow. If our competitor did X, that would really scare us. What proactive steps should we take for competitive protection?”
  • “You know, if we took action A, we’d really increase sales and profits and position ourselves for sustained success.”
  • What do we expect our competitors to do in the next six months? How would we be prepared to act?

Framing your question(s) is critical for success, and how you do that depends on your particular business dynamics and personal style. You’ll want to create excitement and interest, though, so go with direct, conversational language.

For maximum effect, try this question:

  • “If we did X, we’d really drive our business forward and kick our competitor’s butt.”

Encourage your teams to adopt this type of business mindset for direct assessment, and both strategic and opportunistic thinking and action. Conduct regular sessions, whether informal or a bit more formal, to capture ideas and concerns, make improvements, and take advantage of opportunities.

Just remember, whether or not you think this way and ask these kind of questions, your competitors almost certainly are! They want to win now, too.



Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His B2B and CPG marketing expertise includes agribusiness, ingredients and food and beverage. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.

Why Your Business Needs “Marketing Discipline”

This isn’t about the kind of discipline you get in the principal’s office.

I’m talking the good kind of discipline here, what I refer to as Marketing Discipline. You’d better have some in your business, or don’t be surprised when the CEO calls for the wrong reasons.

To me, the concept of Marketing Discipline is a fundamental criterion of success. Yet, with the unrelenting focus and fascination on shiny new tactics, the discipline part of marketing often gets lost in the wash. Continue reading