Dealing with competition

Historically, there’s only been one name in America’s zoo accreditation business, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  Recently, additional accreditation bodies emerged onto the marketplace creating competition for the first time.

When faced with competition for the first time in 90 years, it’s natural that an organization would be a little lost in their approach of how to handle it.  AZA, here’s some common strategies for dealing with competition, in case you need it!

  1. Out perform it: You can’t argue with results. This is the approach of Apple, Google, and Virgin Airlines. They get results, have flawless marketing campaigns, and do things no one else will do.  If you want to take this approach, you push yourself to be the literal best in the marketplace, and when you’ve achieved that position, you push harder to stay ahead of it.
  2. Ignore it: Why? Because no one, and I literally mean no one, is out there doing things exactly the way you do. You have your own unique approach, direction, and “something” that you bring to everything you do. No one can do exactly what you do, so don’t worry about the competition, they literally do not have anything on you.
  3. Collaborate with it: Be humble enough to realize you might have something to learn from the competition. When possible, take opportunities to work together towards a common goal and learn from each other.  We have seen this approach in the animal world after natural disasters like hurricanes and during conservation campaigns like Vaquita CPR. We partner with trusted, like-minded organizations to reach a shared goal.
  4. Destroy it: This is most common in the political world, but you’ve probably seen it in cell service providers commercials, insurance commercials, and other advertising campaigns. The secure approach is to highlight what you have that they don’t, the opposite approach looks a little like Tonya Harding: hire some crony with questionable ethics and a baseball bat.

Here’s the trouble, a good portion of our industry believes that AZA’s recent announcement of a partnership of some sort with the Humane Society of the United States falls under number four.  While the AZA’s leadership seems to believe it falls under number three.

What do you think?

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