July 2018.1 Never Criticise your Competition


Thanks Steven, a good reminder.

You may have missed the minor spat on Twitter yesterday when the CEO and Chairman of Ford Europe, a Mr Steven Armstrong, decided to have a pop at Tesla.

In response to Elon Musk of Tesla announcing they had reached the production milestone of 7000 cars a week, Mr Armstrong effectively said ‘Pah, that’s nothing, Ford does that in 4 hours.’

Oh Dear

He got a reaction, but unfortunately not the one he wanted.

People were quick to point out everything from the $5.9 billion ‘loan’ Ford got to help them through the 2009 recession, their US pickup truck dependant business model, to their seeming lack of interest in producing less environmentally-damaging vehicles.

His Twitter account may have the disclaimer that the ‘All opinions are his own’ but so what.

It clearly states he is Chairman and CEO Of Ford Europe, he was commenting on an automotive topic, so it may as well have been Ford.

Why did he say that?

Whether you see him as a typical auto-industry dinosaur or someone talking automotive sense, he had clearly forgotten the rule ‘Never Criticise your Competition’. Or even worse, Those who aren’t your competition but you think they are.

Invariably it makes you look petty, vindictive and only talks to your own insecurities and feelings than those of your marketplace – you know, the place where you were hoping you might score some cheap points by putting the other guy down.

The problem is you have no real idea what your customers or prospects think of your competitors. Even if you get an invitation to criticise your competitor, don’t fall into the trap. The chances are you are dealing with a canny buyer who is simply fishing for information on your own integrity and trustworthiness. If you do get an invitation, always test the person who’s inviting you by making a positive statement. ‘ I believe their quality/delivery/performance is good, we hold them in high regard’.

You may well find they have an overwhelming urge to put you right.

The urge to do what Steven Armstrong did comes from a personal need to assert an advantage, maybe to stroke his own ego by putting down another’s achievement or maybe to counter a perceived threat. He clearly didn’t think it through, presumably saw the tweet from Elon Musk and experienced a gut-driven need to reply.

It was an emotional decision with apparently zero rational-level validation applied.

We are all potentially vulnerable to this as it makes us feel good, it’s an indulgence on our part, a ‘feel good few minutes’ where that little kid part of us gets out to have a run about. Once you’ve started it’s hard to stop and before you know its turned into a rant.

Fail to Prepare….

To avoid catching the same cold, take precautions.

Ingrain in your brain ‘Never criticise the competition’ and make sure your customer facing people are following the same rule.



3 July 2018

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