Lately I’ve been a little frustrated with the way I see some entrepreneurs marketing their business. In particular, I see a growing trend by both service and product based businesses where they use the spirit of “competition” to develop group programs and events. Now, let me start here by saying I do think that a healthy challenge can be a good thing… when used and designed in the right way. I’ve won awards. I had fun, I invested. You win some, you lose more. I know a lot of people are fueled by the accountability that having someone beside them, running in the same race, can do. But what I’m seeing in the marketplace is NOT in that camaraderie, and it makes me wanna puke.
I’ve seen this trend building in two particular industries… weight loss and coaching. One meal replacement company on the scene has a 90-day weight loss challenge and the winner gets a vacation to an exotic place (or a car, or money, they have so many varieties I can’t keep up). The second trend where I’ve seen is with coaches… where to fill a “group” program they call it a challenge or competition, and the winner gets a full year of group coaching. I think one coach must have done it successfully and now every copycat out there is hopping on the bandwagon.
What bothers me about this trend is not the competition itself, but how it’s used as a disguise. I know these business models and what I’ve observed is that they’re using the same old program, seeing people get the same results, and calling it a challenge so that they can build buzz and get fast action. I suppose there’s no crime in that, but I’ve never been a fan of shady marketing. For every contest I’ve ever entered I know up front exactly what is required of me to win the darn thing. Isn’t that what a true competition really is?
The challenges that I’ve been seeing in the marketplace are not transparent. If you fall for it, you end up joining and running the race without knowing exactly how the winner is going to be determined. REALLY!!?? Who does that? When a runner enters the New York City marathon they know exactly where they need to run, and they know how fast they need to go to be a contender. Same for any other sport. It’s even the same for movie releases, but I digress.
I get phone calls from people who have fallen for these shady marketing tactics, asking advice about what to do in the aftermath of hopping on the bandwagon and my usual response is: “Consider it a lesson learned.”
You work hard for your money, don’t you? Be careful how you invest it, and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you do. True competition doesn’t leave you with so much mystery. It encourages you, and even when you lose, you feel like a winner!