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!

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Comments ( 7 )

        • Jo says:

          Hi Beatrice! I’m from the UBC. There is a line between smart marketing and deception, I’m just not sure where it is. And it looks like I’m not the only one. People are out to make money any way they can. We just have to learn to beware and be wise. Great post!

        • Beatrice says:

          Hi Jo, It’s true. It’s a fine line. We have to be very aware…

        • Amy says:

          What a powerful blog and it certainly has validity to it. I almost fell into one of these marketing pits of illusion myself and I’m not too sure that I haven’t fallen for them before.

          Thank-you for sharing this insightful message!


        • Liz says:

          I have a friend who promotes the shake with the 90 day challenge. She’s pretty frustrated that her clients don’t stick with it for the long term. I want to be supportive of her business aspirations, but…. well, you said it. Thank you for the clarity.

        • Beatrice says:

          It’s a tough boat to row Liz! You have to be able to constantly add value in order to really sustain business and not break your neck. It takes a very certain kind of person to ride that bandwagon, and a more special one to know when to hop off before it goes kerplunk.

        • Matthew Lee says:

          First Bea, you have great content on your site!

          You give away content that a lot of guru will sell to people…I hope you readers understand that…and you are an in the trenches marketers someone that walks the walk!

          I think you make some great points, and I am sure there is plenty of people to back you up, but at the end of the day are participants getting better results than they would without the competition?

          There are good examples of companies using it to create great results too, and many lives being changed. Bill Phillips Body For Life Challenge is one of them.

          Business is a game and you must know your ideal client better than they know themselves. In many cases as a leader in business you must not only use your marketing knowledge to your advantage to help people help themselves, but you must do it with the intention of helping people become the best person they are capable of. If that is burying the implementation of your product and service inside of a 90-Day Challenge- and it helps more clients than a Self Study course – that’s a win-win.

          I agree this must only be used with the intention to help people get better results, and any other intention just to increase sales is terrible.

          I am personally looking to start challenges and myself believe that competition works for some people, and it really brings out the best in terms of their accountability and the ability to belong to a community. The Prize is almost irrelevant in the end if people are getting better results than without the accountability.

          I think the best point I made – which most people will skip over(I know you teach this too), is to know your ideal client better than they know themselves. This way you can always come from a place of serving them.

          Continue to be a great Servant!

        • Beatrice says:

          Hi Matthew,
          You are a gem! Thank you so much for taking the time to share some real insight into this post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “do it with the intention of helping people” and there are so few examples of those who get it right! Thanks for highlighting and endorsing your person experience with Bill Phillips. As a vegan (and sugar free at that), I fully support anyone with a heart to really transform lives in a healthy way. That’s the true definition of a servant. Please continue to join me in spreading the strong and genuine way of doing this 🙂

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