Ryan Hanley

author, speaker, marketing geek

Innovation, Content Marketing and Becoming the Competition

content marketing competition

I’m a big fan of Daniel Burrus and his Techno Trends newsletter.

Truthfully, I have only a limited appetite for the techy future stuff.  This may seem crazy, but I’m not a big technology guy in general.  I grew up in the woods of Upstate New York creating new worlds in the forest behind my house.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love the Internet.

I do.

I love the ease of communication and accessibility that technology affords us…

…but as far as gadgets go and the next wave of smartphone…

I could care less.

I’m a story teller.

I’m a content marketer.

I’m a believer in helping others and building relationships.

If technology helps me do that, I’m all for it.

So I don’t read Daniel Burres’s newsletter for the technology stuff.  What I admire about Daniel Burrus, why I think his newsletter is such a fantastic resource, is because he singularly focused on innovation.

I love innovation.

Love it…

…and subsequently I try to read, listen to, watch and meet innovators as often as I can.  I want to infect myself with the innovators spirit.

Becoming the Competition

In Daniel Burrus’s most recent newsletter he gave the following thought about Google and their social media efforts with Google+:

“This is where it looks like some mistakes started to occur, because Google shifted their focus from ‘innovation’ to ‘beating the competition.’

One of the problems of focusing on the competition is that you end up competing with them.  In contrast, when you focus on innovation, you become the competition.  That’s a big difference.”

Let’s take Google, Google+ and social media out of the discussion.  That point isn’t whether or not Google has made mistakes in it’s creation and integration of Google+.

What I would like to discuss are the words in bold.

“…when you focus on innovation, you become the competition.”

That’s a very powerful thought.

I see this everyday.  I work in insurance.  Some of my would be competition includes GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, Nationwide, All State… Mega-companies that spend ridiculous amounts of money to advertise their insurance products.

Do you think it’s possible for me to “beat” any of the companies I just named?

Shit no… it would be impossible.


It would be impossible if I say them as competition…

I have absolutely no chance to beat the mega-insurance carriers, no chance at all…

…if I play their game.

I’m sure you deal with the same issues in your industry.

So if we have no chance to beat our Big Box competitors what are we as small business professionals and entrepreneurs supposed to do?

We Friggin’ Innovate

We become the competition.

We small business professionals…

We entrepreneurs…

We solo-preneurs…

We main-street, real-life, community-based businesses…


…and it all starts with our story.

To me, content marketing is the innovation.

To me, figuring out…





…emotion driving,

…revenue generating ways of telling the small business story is innovation.

Because our story is the Ace in the Hole.  Our Big Box competitors don’t have a special story.  They don’t have a community to rally.

Innovation is figuring out how to deliver your story in a way that integrates into peoples lives not interrupts.

This is content marketing.

When you use content marketing to innovate your story and how you tell your story… you become the competition.

No one has the story you have.

No one can tell your story the way you can.

Get your hands out of your pockets and get them on the damn keyboard.


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Drop Some Knowledge

How do you innovate your story?  What part of your story allows you compete against your Big Box competitors?  Does innovate your story make sense?

About Ryan Hanley

I help make sales easy through content marketing. My work as a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and Amazon bestseller author will help your business establish authority, attract an audience and grow revenue. Hire me to speak at your next event or grab a copy of my new book, Content Warfare.

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  • http://bartendingbasics.net James

    Man, this stuff is so overlooked nowadays. I don’t know if it’s people thinking that all the good ideas are used up and innovation is dead, or everyone is just so focused on what their neighbor is doing that they stop trying to make something different. A buddy of mine in Vegas started up a coffee shop, in the midst of the dozens of Starbucks that scatter every corner of the city. “How the hell do you compete against Starbucks?” He just told me he was going to do something different. He made his coffee shop like the little hole-in-the-wall ones out in Seattle. He hosted bands, poetry readings, art gatherings.. it became a center of the coffee culture in Vegas, something that Starbucks couldn’t really manage on the corporate scale. I see a lot of this in the web world as well with people thinking that they can’t compete against the massive websites out there. You just have to be an innovator. Stop focusing on competing, focus on creating something new. It’s all in how you think. Good post man :).

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  • http://www.purrfectmoments.com Sheila Bergquist

    This is so true. I think people are becoming more and more drawn to businesses that are more personal and not the average big business. Being yourself and having your own story is part of this. Great post!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley


      They definitely are. Those who tell the best stories win today!

  • http://www.videobloggingforbusiness.com Ray Brown

    Hi Ryan I’m not sure I fully agree with content marketing being about “your” story. I think businesses have to learn to shift from what I call “product” thinking to “activity” thinking. When a customer buys a product or service he/she invariably has an activity in mind e.g. washing powder, she sees her family in clean shirts, wedding ring he sees his marriage and an electric drill, he sees himself building some shelves. I think these are the “stories” that we business people need to think about because when it comes right down to it the customer is really not interested in our story. By adding to our customer’s stories we will become the competition!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley


      Client stories and community stories ultimately become part of a company’s overall story.

      So I agree with you.

  • Brent Kelly

    Love, love. Love this post. I agree. I think we are all trying to do something better than someone who has already established themselves as the leader. That doesn’t mean they will always be on top, but instead of trying to best them at their own game we should make up rules to a new game.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Make up our own rules… Love that Brent… Thanks buddy.

  • http://www.divinsurance.com Zach Emly

    Ryan I found your stuff just a few months ago… but I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that your thinking to the next level!

    But you are dead on with this post. I believe this is what makes America great! Just about everyone has the ability to be an entrepreneur or employee-preneur. We have the ability to innovate and grow but instead people stand still and wonder why they get beat out by behemoth companies.

    A word to business owners (anyone really) – Your 30 year old business plan and your education from 30 years ago is DEAD! You have to continually learn, and get better or else you fail.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Great comments dude and appreciate the love.

      One point on the 30 year old business plan and education… I don’t think it’s dead. I think the concepts, ideas, values, all of that still is very relevant today. The issue is how we apply them.

      It’s the strategies for delivering the concepts, ideas, values of 30 years ago that are dead, not the concepts, ideas, values themselves.

      Thanks again!!


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