Maintaining the Competitive Edge


For the past 20 plus years I have found myself referencing the wise words of my father to help me keep my competitive edge.  With Father’s Day approaching it seemed like an appropriate time to acknowledge the person that has had a positive influence on my professional career.  

My father is a true entrepreneur in every sense of the word, a maverick in his industry, and very successful.  While I may not agree with him 100% of the time, I’ve certainly learned quite a bit about business from him.  With aphorisms like, “The harder you work, the luckier you get”, “The road to success is always under construction”, “Guilty until proven innocent”, and “When you chop wood you pick up a few splinters”,  and  book recommendations like, “What Makes Sammy Run?” and “In a Chinese Garden”, he has been and continues to be an inspiration for me.

New York is a big market with super-sized ideas and countless opportunities for marketing directors.  It is congested with people fighting for their share of voice.  How do you get heard?  What is the point of differentiation?   For me, I’ve adopted much of my father’s acumen and incorporated it into my own style; and it has definitely served me well.  Two themes that can help you cut through the clutter and keep you ahead of the pack are customer service and preparation.  Superior Customer Service is a phrase that I have embraced and consider a top priority.  Many companies tout their customer service, but unfortunately most of them fall short on delivering it to the customers.   The best way to sum up Superior Customer Service is by a postal carrier named Fred; the protagonist of the book, “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn.   In essence, Fred made a profound difference on others by doing extraordinary work and providing exceptional service; something all of us have the ability to provide.   This is your chance to shine; people want to do business with people that are sincere and conscientious and that have their best interests in mind.  If you want to make a difference and excel I suggest that you pay attention to all of the little details…because they always seem to pay the biggest dividends.

Seneca, the Roman philosopher said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.  If you want the competitive advantage and to become successful, study and learn from successful people; they leave clues.  Most successful people have worked hard to get there and preparation was a key factor.  A doctor prepares for surgery by reviewing patient records and the latest medical findings.  An attorney prepares for trial with due diligence, depositions, and discovery.  As a marketing representative you can prepare for presentations and proposals by researching your prospects, relevant industries, and market trends as well as other data that will help you raise your voice above the crowd.

Superior Customer Service and preparation are just two of many things you can do to gain the competitive edge.  What else can you do?  Well…make winning a habit, be user friendly, have a can-do attitude, be the go-to person, offer solutions, solve problems,  anticipate delays, stay a step ahead of the next guy, change hats, hustle, always be looking over your shoulder, run a little scared, and remember to listen to your father.  Happy Father’s Day.

David Scherman – Sports Marketing, WCBS/New York Yankees Radio Network
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