Whether it’s software, or a product or service that your company sells, competition exists in your industry. And you don’t have to be in your company’s market research department to know the pertinent information related to your competitors. Who are your competitors? What are their website URLs? How do they position themselves in the market? How do they pitch the clients your company is pitching?

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And if you and other people in your company have the drive to be leaders in your industry, then you are a competitor. You believe there is room at the top. The answers to the questions about your competitors don’t frighten you; they motivate you and those within your company to be better at “WHAT you do” and “HOW you do it”. “WHY your company is in business” is a topic for another discussion.

How does my company differentiate itself from other competitors?

A more refined version of this question is, “How do you define success?” To determine how a company differentiates itself, let’s take a look at a Conceptual Actualization Marketing Model—let’s call it CAMM—and then compare this model to four different analogies.

First, let’s understand CAMM. CAMM has four layers: Foundational Concepts, Advanced Concepts, Technology Integration and Market Actualization. The Foundational Concepts layer encompasses basic concepts in business as well as basic concepts in your industry.

The Advanced Concepts Layer encompasses advanced concepts in your industry and business intelligence your company gathers. The Technology Integration Layer encompasses any system, software or technology that your company uses to gain a competitive edge. The final layer, Market Actualization, is the layer that represents your company achieving its “why” (see link from above); it’s also the layer that encompasses your company’s ability to react to the ever-changing needs of the marketplace and to absorb and process the continual fire hose of current, relevant industry news.

There are no shortcuts to achieving market actualization, but marketing hacks can play an important role in your everyday business life. HubSpot’s 20 Day Crash Course Calendar offers marketing tips, tricks and hacks that can be integrated into your day to help you move up through each of the four CAMM layers.

Here’s a graphic illustrating CAMM:

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Now let’s take a look at four analogies that illustrate CAMM.

Analogy #1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the Conceptual Actualization Marketing Model represents the concept that in order for a company to make it to the next layer in the model, they must first reach the preceding layer. To reach the Market Actualization layer, a company must first reach the Technology Integration layer. Before reaching the Technology Integration layer, it must reach the Advanced Concepts layer; and before the Advanced Concepts layer it must first solidify the Foundational Concepts layer.

Just like the self-actualization need in Maslow’s hierarchy refers to a person’s full potential and the realization of that potential, the CAMM Market Actualization Layer refers to a company’s full potential and the realization of that full potential.

Analogy #2: Football Star Peyton Manning


We’ve all seen the video of Peyton playing football as a kid. Like many professional athletes, he’s been working to hone his abilities in his chosen sport from an extremely young age. But so have other professional athletes, so what sets him apart from his counterparts? Why has he broken and set so many records? Well, a couple of clues that we are able to observe now can serve as indicators to what his entire career has been like and how he has taken what seems like the highest level of the game to a plane that no one else is currently on.

When other quarterbacks are sitting on the sideline waiting to come back into the game, Peyton is on the sideline reading through plays and sometimes on the phone talking to coaches from the booth. He also runs the no-huddle offense, an offense meant to catch all defenses off guard. His leadership is second to none. These are a few steps that set him apart from his counterparts. Similar to the progression layers of CAMM, Peyton’s skill has taken him through each layer of competition as a quarterback: young age, high school, college, and professional football.

Analogy #3: Education


There’s a theory that once you complete a certain level of education, you join a new strata of people who have completed that same level of education. In that new club, you have new opportunities that you didn’t have in the previous level of education completed. The theory holds at every level of education.

Analogy #4: Services Maturity Model


The five levels of services maturity start out chaotically and eventually become more formalized. In the early or foundational stages, employees of a services company often are more heroic and the company is less structured. As each level builds upon the previous, the company matures in its delivery of professional services. Performance is more easily measured and a heavier focus turns toward improving the delivery of the service. Similarly with CAMM, each layer builds upon the previous and the company begins to more understand its potential, and ultimately, realize its potential.

Bonus Analogy: Illuminati Pyramid


Ok, there’s not really an analogy here, that’s why it’s a “bonus.” CAMM does, however, look strikingly similar to the Illuminati Pyramid. Of course, there’s no real connection, but the observation has been made.

But where do marketing hacks fit into CAMM?


Marketing hacks can be extremely important; they’re essentially a thin band at the top of the Technology Integration Layer. Marketing hacks also serve the gatekeeper between information and those who deserve to wield the information.

Marketing hacks allow a company to validate and utilize information quickly without having to pour money into software development or analysis tools. Once properly wielded, information ushers a company into CAMM’s Market Actualization Layer.

In the vein of differentiation, organizations and individuals are creating more marketing hacks every day. You can get started by downloading HubSpot’s 20 Day Crash Course Calendar and following along on their associated marketing hacks calendar-compatible file as they release these tips. The calendar features Shareable, a hack we created to help you create social links that can be used in ebooks, blog posts, articles and other places that need custom social images. Step up to the next layer of CAMM, integrate marketing hacks into your company’s everyday workflow moving forward.

As progress occurs with each layer of CAMM and each of the above-listed analogies, competitive skill increases. Industry leadership and thought leadership grows. Differentiation sets in. Ultimately, the competition must work even harder or bow out.

Image credit: SciFiNow.co.uk, Wikipedia.org, ESPN.go.com, SPI Research