Do you need to hate your enemies?

11 Mar

(Image courtesy of aaardvaark)

Do you need to hate your enemies?

Business is all about competition. If someone buys your solution, they’re not going to buy from your competitor, and vice versa. So do you need to hate your enemies?

Recently, Kristine, PBwiki’s customer evangelist, struck up a Twitter conversation with the product manager at Microsoft that is responsible for SharePoint’s wiki. In other words, a competitor.

She shared with him a video about how PBwiki handles linking via a simple dialog box (which, by the way, is way ahead of SharePoint’s current practice of requiring users to memorize certain codes and paste in URLs).

One school of thought would say, “That’s providing aid and comfort to the enemy!” That school of thought says that you need to hate your enemies, burn their cities to the ground, put their women and children to the sword, and salt the earth so that nothing returns.

The other school of thought says that the greatest competitor isn’t a company, it’s doing nothing.

Kristine posted her Tweet to answer a user question about linking (Microsoft’s PM just happened to interject himself into the equation).

That user, and anyone else following the conversation, will see that the team here at PBwiki is confident in who we are, what we do, and that we will win any fair fight, and most of the unfair ones.

That’s how I feel. Being open, honest, and helpful, even to your competitors, is the best way to show one’s confidence and strength. That doesn’t mean giving away the crown jewels; save those for yourself. But providing a pointer to a publicly available video, allowing competitors to sign up for the product, and focusing on solving customer problems rather than worrying about some imaginary scoreboard versus the competition makes good business sense.

5 Responses to “Do you need to hate your enemies?”

  1. Oliver Young March 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    Hey Chris, does it matter if you would like the competitor to acquire you? :)

    Not that I am implying anything about PBwiki specifically, but it seems like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, and Oracle may have slightly different relationships with their smaller competitors than most!

  2. kristine March 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Hey Oliver,

    It doesn’t matter if that competitor is a David (the sleeper competitor) or a Goliath (Mircrosoft). If you’re doing it right, they’re going to find out about your product anyway.

    You might as well show them that not only do you have a great product, but awesome customer service as well.

    -Kristine

  3. Larry Bowditch March 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    In the end the one who gives the most will reap the most positives… IMHO.

    What if an exchange started that made both products better for all clients… win, win, win!

    Larry

  4. Dean March 13, 2009 at 8:47 am #

    Great Post Chris,

    This is evident of some of Guy Kawasaki’s strategies of Drive your competition crazy, and his new book. Reality Check. Competition is not cut and dry. You have to live in the world. You never know when you may need help from a competitor. (Deming, Out of the Crisis). Without competition, there is no innovation. Iron sharpens Iron!

    Web 2.0 is combinations of plug-ins, websites, methodologies. Having great screw drivers, wrenches, widgets, etc. is necessary. Everyone builds their house differently.

    Dean

  5. Chris March 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    dude thats soo awesome!!

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