Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

How to Blow Your Competitors Out of the Water—Even When There’s an Entire Sea of ‘Em

In: Marketing,

Last week, we talked about sustainable marketing efforts–not just wham bam thank you ma’am attempts like putting your logo on a BIC pen and handing them out to random nuns. Not effective.

A much more effective way to market yourself? Becoming the obvious choice.

Because, once again, when you’re the obvious choice–it isn’t a choice at all.

And today we’re going to talk about the how. Because what’s the point of dippy dappy inspiration unless you can actually execute?

So–becoming the obvious choice. How does one become the obvious choice? How to elbow jab all your competitors? How to become the go-to person / provider / company? How to snatch up all the business in a 100,017 mile radius, grow like wild (child) fire, and sit around with a smug look on your face at least 23 hours a day?

The answer to the question lies in television, of course.

Think about your favorite TV show. (If it’s Sinbad, we have to talk.)

You watch this show every single week, without fail—even if there are slobbering zombies banging down your door and groaning for your braaaaaaaaaains.

Now let me ask you this: Why do you think that TV show was created? Do you suppose it was created with the sole purpose of entertaining you? That would be awfully charitable of TV networks around the world, wouldn’t it.

Not the case. That TV show exists because THEY NEED A WAY TO REACH YOU. They need a way for their advertisers to reach you. Because TV is a business, and they’re selling your attention.

And the only way to get your attention?

Is to give you something you want. 

Something like your favorite TV show.

Because who’s going to watch television if it’s just 24/7 commercial after commercial after commercial after commercial after commercial—and that’s it?

No fucking body.

So the only reason your TV show exists? So we’re clear? Is not to entertain you. It’s to profit from you.

But guess what?

We don’t mind, do we.

We accept the commercials because the TV show in between is giving us something. Entertainment. Laughter. Inspiration. Information.

Now think about the average business. Think about your business.

You’ve probably got a website up. And you’ve probably got a nice little tab up there with your “service offerings,” or your “products”—or maybe it’s all smack dab right there on the home page.

You know what those things of yours actually are?


So now tell me this–

You want people to pay attention to them. To you.

But what are you giving them in return for their attention?

Are you giving them entertainment? Laughter? Inspiration? Information?

Or are you giving them nothing–and expecting their attention for free? 

Say I run a day care center, and I need to increase my enrollment rates. Know what I’m doing?

  1. Running free community workshops on sane parenting, parenting for new parents, parenting for single parents, parenting for parents with no idea how to parent, parenting for step parents, parenting for teen parents—YOU GET THE IDEA. The key is that it’s free, tight wad Tabby—just like your favorite TV show is free. This is a marketing activity, and you want as many non-clients to show up as possible. So my advice? Don’t charge them, because guess what? If you charge them, the only people that are going to show up are your current clients who already love you enough to give you their money. But YOU’VE ALREADY GOT THEIR MONEY. You want other people’s money. And the way you get other people’s money is when those people start viewing you as a real leader in your community who generously provides them with something they want—and then—drum roll—they’ll see you AS THE OBVIOUS CHOICE. And then they sign a 6 month contract to have you watch their children–which equals a lot more in revenue than the measly $10 you would have charged them for a workshop.
  2. Organizing a weekly meet-up group for moms, and volunteer to watch their kids while it’s happening, for free—complete with complimentary wine. (Even if it’s boxed, you guys.) Or, do something similar online. (And P.S.? Yes, there’s a cost involved for you. But guess what? It’s called an investment in your business. And you need to start making some if you ever want to see an ROI. RETURNS ON INVESTMENTS DO NOT COME WHEN YOU DON’T MAKE ANY INVESTMENTS.)
  3. Publishing a fascinating, little-known, creative weekly parenting tip to the blog you damn well better have, sending it out via email to existing clients and anyone who opts-in, making sure it’s so useful moms will want to share it with EVERYONE THEY KNOW. (Think the DIY home section on Pinterest—aren’t you always amazed by the stuff you find in there? Become THAT in your industry.) And then make sure that when they do share it, there’s a way for other moms to opt-in to receive the weekly tip to their email. I don’t care if it takes you time, and effort, and energy, and creativity to come up with the tips–MAKE IT HAPPEN. The alternative is not doing anything and complaining you don’t have any business. Business does not fall from the sky.
  4. Having an email list in the first place–and NOT just to send updates to existing customers. Your existing customers are already giving you their money. And, of course, sending out emails to them is nice for retention, but it does jack for you if your marketing goal is to reach NEW customers. So start giving NEW CUSTOMERS more of your time and attention. Start giving them something that they want. For free.

Notice a common thread here?

Everything I’m doing is happening on a regular, recurring basis. It’s not a one-time event, like setting up a table at a festival. It’s not wham bam thank you ma’am. Rather, these are long-term efforts that, yes, require EFFORT, but will also ensure you’re in business for the long-term, too.

You’ll become the obvious choice.

Because why would anyone put their kid in the no-name child care center that nobody’s ever heard of…when they can put them in the one that’s known for its fantastic workshops, meet-up groups, parenting tips, and proactive approach to being involved in the community, ultimately marking their territory as THE LEADER.

If you’re second to none, then act like it.

Because you won’t become the obvious choice by doing the obvious.


take the

25 DAYS TO $100K

Freelancer Challenge now!

Calibrate your freelance business to reach $100K this year just by making one small adjustment every day for twenty-five days. Enter your email to get started!

It's 100% free, just like the tears you wept over Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.



Is This Simple Thing Preventing You From Getting More Clients?

So once upon a time I dated a guy with lots of tattoos who worshiped his mom. Wait. Wait a minute. That has nothing to do with the story. Rewind. Back up. Let’s start again. *clears throat*– Once upon a time, my official job title was “Director of Business Development.” There. That’s better. Right story. […]

In: Marketing,




What Do You Believe? Package THAT.

Everyone wants their ideas to spread. This is what marketing is all about. What is often neglected, however, is that you have to have an idea first. Everyone’s trying to sell “design” or “copywriting” or “coaching” or “services”—God forbid—but these things are merely categories, not concepts. What do you believe? Package THAT.       […]

In: Branding, Marketing,


How to become an unf*ckwithable freelancer

What does it mean to be unf*ckwithable? View the 10 commandments >>



Click here to tell me what *you* think + let your ideas be seen naked—and then sign your name on our wall of wonder.

196 thoughts on "How to Blow Your Competitors Out of the Water—Even When There’s an Entire Sea of ‘Em"

  1. Glam Girl Naturals says:

    Hi Ash, I read your other article about “throwing the BIC pen away” and all other silly marketing tactics that many of us end up doing and finding it is SUCH a waste of time! SO thank you for that, and all the laughs and chuckles! And thank you for this article as well. I am a bit stuck. What can I give away? I have an online business, with all natural mineral makeup, that is 100% gluten-free, 100% cruelty-free, and 95% vegan. On our FB page, we have done contests and given away giftbaskets full of our products and some of my other favorite beauty natural products. But what can I give away in your opinion that is sustainable and will give a good ROI in the long run? Thanks!

  2. Debi says:

    Recently found your blog . . . . wow! Lots of great ideas to implement. I’ve been thinking about this post in particular and my brain is just stuck. I’m a photographer – portraits and weddings (though I want to focus mostly on boudoir and wedding photography) and I just don’t know what I can offer people that will draw them in. Any ideas?

Comments are closed.