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June 29, 2009 / jasonpinto

My ship is bigger

I am currently having a great time reading “The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic” (amazon.com link). 

It has been quite a fascinating story so far.

Right now I am reading about the “ship race” that was going on between the United States and Britain in those days.

At the time (1840s and 1850s), Britian was “in the lead”, thanks to a man  named Samuel Cunard. His ships were crossing the Atlantic faster than anyone else, and they were bringing the most mail (which equaled $$).

Cunard’s success inspired groups in the U.S. to try to build ships that were thus bigger, faster, and more luxurious. 

The results have been pretty fascinating. While ships built by a man named Collins were starting to cross the ocean faster than Cunard’s ships, they were losing a ton of money with each crossing. It cost so much to power such a luxurious boat at those speeds… they were also losing money due to the above-average salaries that they were paying their employees.

So… they were winning the race… but they were also headed right towards bankruptcy.

In today’s business world, we need to pay attention to our competition. At times, this will be for our benefit – we may become inspired to find new ways to improve our product or service.

But, at what cost? Do we stare at our competitor’s website every day, thinking they have the best site in the market? Do we drool upon sight at their trade show booth? Do we cringe when we hear their radio advertisement?

Well, if we are not spending enough time marketing our business, than we should fell guilty when we see or hear those types of efforts. But, if we are doing all we can to market our business, then we need to “competitor-watch” in balance.

Competitors can inspire us… and they can drown us.

Find the right balance, and your marketing efforts, products, and services will improve.

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