Know Your Enemy

The Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers NFC championship game is Sunday and to fans of both teams, this is almost as big as the Superbowl. The rivalry between the teams is one of the oldest and most heated in sports.

I've never been much of a sports fan, I'm more of a “lay on the couch with a good book” kind of guy. Yet I find the longstanding rivalry fascinating. It seems every major team has their rival. The Cleveland Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants have the 49ers. The New England Patriots have, well, let's face it, everybody hates the Patriots.

We can tell a lot about ourselves by how we choose our enemies. We see aspects of ourselves in them that fuel our competitive drive. This can ultimately benefit both parties, as we push ourselves higher, measuring success against the metric of our key competitors.

During the musical heyday of the '60s, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were constantly being positioned against each other in the media as the Greatest Band in the World. The Stones were the bad boys from broken homes, the Beatles were the nice lads you would bring home to mom. The reality was John, Paul, George and Ringo all came from lower to working-class homes, with difficult childhoods and circumstances. The Stones generally came out of middle-class art school backgrounds. But, as is so often the case, the truth got in the way of a good story.

The two bands, who were pegged as being rivals in the rock press were actually very close. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the Stones' second single, “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and over the years coordinated their record release schedules with the Stones so that they wouldn't have overlapping hits. The collaboration benefited both bands.

Who are your biggest competitors and how does their presence in the market impact your positioning? How can you capitalize on this to set yourself apart and promote greater awareness and success?