How to Get Your Customers to Compete With Each Other and Why You Should

So, I’m thinking the title of this post may have brought you here out of curiosity if nothing else, but I assure you the following concept possesses immense opportunity for the creative thinking marketer.

customer competition

photo credit: JanetandPhil via photopin cc

Management consultant and author Peter Drucker famously coined the phrase, “What gets measured gets done.” While I agree with this completely I would offer an enhancement – What gets measured gets done, but what gets measured and reported gets done exponentially.

Let me ask you this. Are your clients getting the absolute greatest results possible? Sure, a lot of that depends on their actions, but what could you do to get them to take greater action?

I was visiting with some brilliant marketers this past week as they explained the power and pull of competition when it comes to helping their clients achieve results.

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept. A weight loss guru holds a competition to find the person who can lose the most weight and in the process hundreds of her clients achieve far greater results due to the competition and requirement of reporting their progress than they would have had they simply enrolled in a program and hoped for results.

Think about that for a bit. When clients have an incentive to report the progress they’ve made by following your program or using your product, they actually participate far more actively and experience far greater results.

How could you get your clients to compete with each other for their own benefit?

The measured and reported model presents a profound opportunity for just about any type of business. The trick is to focus on the actions you know will allow them to get better results.

Perhaps it’s making a game out completing training videos, creating a contest for getting required documents to you on time or setting up a way to measure their progress using your product against all other product users.

Think about the power of communities that currently use tools like Map My Run to measure and track fitness, but also to report progress to friends and other community members.

Here’s the starter question: Can you find a reason to bring your customers together in a way that incentivizes them to measure and report the results they are getting with your products or services?

Here’s an example: A group of business owners join your eight week coaching program and are first asked to set goals and then measured and graded on the progress they make in pursuit of their goals. At the end of the program the participant who makes the greatest progress receives a refund on the program.

One of the simplest ways to get started is to pool a number of clients and get them to compete based on results or progress. Offer a refund or some over the top prize for the greatest progress.

You can take this approach and create a referral competition based on amount of referrals as the basis for measurement.

Of course if you have the right kind business and a little creativity you can simply hold a competition as a way to stimulate product sales in the first place. Buy X product during the month and tell us what it’s done for you and we’ll pick one winner each month to win Y.

The community building aspects of this idea are intriguing as well. You could start a Facebook Group based on your competition and watch your customers start encouraging, aiding and supporting each other in pursuit of their stated and reported progress.

I think this is one of the missing ingredients in so many businesses. No matter how great your training, consulting or product is, if you can’t get people to do what’s in their best interest, you can’t help them achieve a result.

Anything you can do to help your clients get actual results will benefit your business in incredible ways. When your clients measure, report and achieve greater results they’ll talk about you and the results you helped them gain.

Sometimes in the service of a client you must do everything you can to cajole, trick or otherwise coax them into getting a result.

And few things get people to take action like the accountability of competition.

Join Our Content Community

First Name

Last Name

Your Email (this will be your username)

Password (at least 8 characters, 1 number, 1 upper and lowercase letter)

Already a member? Log In

  • Neicole Crepeau

    I like this idea a lot, and I think it falls into the win-win category of engagement. I’d say it doesn’t have to just be competition, though. It’s more about your starter question. A strategy that get people using and reporting on the value of the product is a probably a good one.

    • ducttape

      No it doesn’t have to be a competition at all – just creating a reporting loop in a one to one setting would be a benefit – there are many implications and applications of this idea.

  • brentmkelly

    This is a very interesting post. It certainly seems odd initially, but definitely makes sense if done with some creativity and strategy. I like the concept. Thanks.

    • ducttape

      Thanks Brent – gamification has crept into every element of business from getting employees to complete tasks to making it more fun to brush your teeth. I think it’s time we start thinking this way when it comes to growing any business. Creativity, as you note, is the key.

  • jeaston


    I appreciate revealing a creative way to prompt customers and clients to execute on the strategies they have invested in. As I learned first hand from the Referral Engine, perhaps the most powerful form of referral system results when a group of businesses who offer complimentary services come together to share clients and ideas. An “enhancement” to your referral boosting suggestion might be to create a competition among the members of a referral coalition. Each group member donates a service or product and the member who delivers the most referrals within a selected month wins the collective pot.

    • ducttape

      Absolutely, adding a little spice to the network could do wonders for keeping people focused and engaged. Have you put together your team yet?

      • jeaston

        Yes John I did what you suggested in the book (smile) and we have had phenomenal success. I looked at what my company sells and thought of three services my ideal client would procure before and after doing business with us and sought out great providers of those services whose philosophies were compatible with my own.

        Since forming the alliance (called Rising Tide Referral Alliance), we have each received new business, expanded our thinking, received media attention and reduced our overall marketing costs. This tactic has been the perfect solution to a challenging economy.

        To support group communication and idea exchange and encourage engagement I formed a private LinkedIn group and created a newsletter specific to the team’s needs. The group has been a game changer.

  • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    See? I knew you got the concept of Prosperity’s Kitchen! Hopefully, I can convince you to participate in Season Two. Our participants are competing with each other in a public way and reporting great results already (we’re in week 6 of 13). Lots of stretching beyond comfort zones and doing things they knew needed to be done, but would never have tackled without the impetus of the competition. (For your readers not familiar with PK, there’s more info here:

    • ducttape

      That sounds awesome Tea – I think I was in overwhelm trying to finish my last book but I would love to get a sneak peek now if possible so I could see what you’re up to in full bloom.

  • Tinu

    It has certainly worked on me. If I already enjoy something, mixing in community and gamification aspects makes me a super-fan, especially in the form of competition. I’ve extended my daily walk by .2 miles just so I can be mayor of the park. Even better when I can win something.

    • ducttape

      Thanks Tinu – I read a really old school marketing book that stated – “People will fall all overthemselves to buy your product if they can win something” – It’s the prize inside every box of Cracker Jack thinking brought to a new age.

  • Wayne Akey

    I like the potential for B2B services. Getting maximum adoption of a strategy or tool that helps the business grow is great for both sides. We provide payment solutions for recurring billing and for the business owner the more customers they auto-bill the more efficient they are. Having a contest to see who can enroll the greatest percentage of customers using our AutoPay plan really benefits the business owner and our own payment business.

    • ducttape

      I think that’s the key isn’t it Wayne – it’s mutually beneficial.

  • Ryan Kettler

    Great stuff John. Thanks for the advice.

    We try to play on the competition aspect with our Website Marketing Grade feature. It shows them where they stand and what they need to do to improve their SEO. As we like to say, “it’s easier to sell aspirin than vitamins”.

    I think a customer competition to see who can get their grade up to an A+ the fastest will be our next challenge.

  • Christabel Córdoba

    Hi John, Just like Jeaston, I saw a great potential to use this concept for our referral network; we are just in the process of selecting the team members, so a little more fun in the game might be key to getting them committed from the beginning 😉

    BTW, we’re having some difficulties deciding on the level of exclusivity among members of our network; have you seen an instance where a network that doesn’t offer exclusivity delivers great results?