Instead of trying to be better than the competition, we may want to try being different than the competition. Differentiation is the key to setting ourselves apart. Think about it--when we try to outcompete with others in our space, we aren't really communicating any value proposition to the customer. However, when we take a new angle and carve out our own little corner of the market, people can see that we bring something different to the table.
Instead of filling a niche, differentiation is all about creating a niche. We don't want to compete in areas that already exist or do things that other organizations are already doing. We want to find a unique angle that grabs attention from potential customers and gives us something special that we can be known for. Are you having trouble competing with others in the industry? Then, stop competing! Become a monopolist in your own little corner of the industry. Do something no one else is doing, and you'll have something no one else has.
Oftentimes, we go about trying to outmaneuver the competition in the wrong way. Or, at least we try to do it the hard way. We watch what the competition is doing and then we try to do it better--or, worse, maybe we even try to copy it. The problem with this approach is that we end up looking just like everyone else. And, as everyone in business knows, when customers can't tell you apart from the competition they'll settle for the lowest bidder.