Why Marketing Complexity Is Like A Magnet

Just when you think you have broken free, you take certain actions and it pulls you back. business growth complexity

Holding your business tight and sucking up the energy you need to grow your business.

There are a number of reasons why your business may become attracted to the complexity magnet.

And today we will look at one area.

Real Versus Perceived Competitors

There are true competitors to your business. The ones customers look at when making the decisions to buy your type of products or services.

And there are competitors you think are competitors that are not even considered by your customers.

Basically, it is the difference between real and perceived competitors.

Last year I wrote about a business that just sells hamburgers and they are famous for them. They know their true competitors are other places that just sell hamburgers. They use simplicity as an important part of attracting customers.

They don’t worry about McDonalds because they are not open all day and night or offer other products such as coffee, breakfast, chicken etc.

And they don’t go down the cheap price route.

If you visit these other shops you will find they sell chicken, fish and chips and open early to sell bacon and egg rolls.

These businesses are making it complex for themselves by seeing MC Donald’s as a key competitor.

To compete with the perceived competitor they added complexity to their business.

They have to add extra equipment for cooking chicken or fish. They need staff in the morning to cook up bacon and egg rolls. And their prices are low.

Pauls hamburgers don’t. They save money, energy and importantly put the savings into the customer experience and add to their profit. They have successfully escaped the clutches of the complexity magnet.

Competing with perceived competitors can take your focus away from taking the right decisions and actions to grow your business.

It can stop you attracting the customers you desire especially if you copy what they do.

And it takes you away from the simplicity track.

Over To You

What tips can you add to avoid the complexity magnet regarding competitors?

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30 Responses to Why Marketing Complexity Is Like A Magnet

  1. Your post makes me think about the menu at The Cheesecake Factory. They offer practically everything, and much of it is pretty decent, even downright tasty at times, but as my tastes have changed, I find myself drawn to be a customers at businesses that specialize. The thought of a McDonald’s hamburger now does little to tempt me, because I know Five Guys has the delicious burger making machine down pat since that is all they focus on, and they do it well. As a writer, I’m at home in fiction, essays, and poetry, but focusing my efforts on a particular fiction genre has helped me define what I want to accomplish.

  2. Susan: Your posts are like magnets! 🙂 I am getting hungry for a hamburger now. I have to swing by Australia… 😉 The folks at Paul’s Famous Hamburgers are thinking like Apple; they don’t “think” about their competitors. They know their “why” they are in business.

    • Hi Martin,

      Thank you and if you ever swing by here I will take you to Pauls for a hamburger 🙂 They certainly do know their why and have stuck to it for decades.

  3. Susan,
    This is a great way of describing the phenomenon. I don’t know how many meetings I have attended in which discussions on simplifying a marketing approach took place only to have suggestion after suggestion on how to add some extra unnecessary step into the mix. Like the line from “The Godfather: Part 3”: “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”

    • Hi Heather,

      I love that line from Godfather 3 and it is so true isn’t it. I feel for you and the people attending the meetings probably don’t even know they are adding complexity.

  4. My husband is always complimented on his attention to detail and customer service. It is part of what sets him aside from others in his industry and leads to word of mouth business, which is the best marketing you can get.

  5. Susan,

    You article does a great job of knowing who your real or perceived competitors are but it also does a great job of showing how doing one thing great and keeping simple can lead to a successful business. Many times business owners will add services they are not great at afraid they will miss out on customers instead of building a true following of the people who are looking for what they are great at.

    Great job,


    • I think you hit on a real issue Jenn and that is the fear of missing out and adding services which you are not great at. What they forget is people will may experience the not so great service which affects the ones they do best. Good advice.

      • I agree businesses do it also when they are afraid to narrow down their market saying that everyone is a potential client. It is hard to reach everyone and truthfully everyone is not a potential client. I encounter this with clients and they become very afraid when I tell them to narrow their market. This is one of the reasons that having sound goals is so very important. You may not need as many customers as you think once you decide what it is you really want to achieve, especially in a service business.


        • Agree not everyone is, even Coke knows this. I know what you are saying about the fear if they narrow down and one reason for this I believe is they don’t crunch the numbers to see if a narrower market has enough potential customers with an ongoing need. Good point about goals as again it goes back to a little number crunching. Also another element is what they sell and whether it is a one off or can be made into one that is in demand throughout the year. A little work upfront makes a big difference during the year.

  6. When we are in business it is really hard and complicated especially when competitors are going to surpass you. By the way this tips really helps.

  7. When I first started my business again, 10 years ago, I was in partners with two colleagues as a full-service PR agency. We eventually went our separate ways (although we remain good friends). I decided to return to my core competency — what got me started as a business reporter so many years ago — writing. Then almost by accident I started writing blogs, then websites and now with this narrower focus I have more business. I have found my niche. It’s simple and it works.

    • Thanks for your story Jeannette and the accidental as you call it does work especially if you are open to change an embracing the opportunity. I have learned something new about your background today and you are a great example of how to avoid complexity 🙂

  8. This is really an interesting thought. We’re so busy trying to be everything to everyone that we forget the power of focus. It’s very evident with big companies that have lost their core purpose.

  9. When reading this I was reminded of a restaurant that has done just what you said. It is a restaurant that has a global menu. It is a bit pricey yet it bring customers in by the droves. Why? Because they focus on providing the VERY best service they can and the food is to die for. They really don’t worry about the MANY restaurants that are near them. They keep it simple. Give the customer the very best experience possible every time and they WILL come and boy do they. Just my thoughts. 🙂

  10. Complexity magnet – great term for a good idea. I will work hard at just that – the specialization. And suggest the same to my clients (although I want my client the sushi guy to continue making those spring rolls because my kids don’t like sushi – I suppose one can handle a little complexity).

    • I have never heard of a Sushi place offering spring rolls but it obviously works for him and I think it is still about simplicity as he is catering for important customers, your kids.

  11. Great article Susan.

    All businesses should be run like Paul’s Hamburgers. Catch is many business owners are not sure what they are doing and hence end up on the complexity path…

  12. Just sell one thing… It works. It has been proven time and time again. You do not need to be all things to all people. Just go for that one thing you are good at and make it work.