Every time I hear an executive say this, I groan inwardly. Sure, no one else does exactly what you do, how you do it. But are there alternatives competing for the attention and dollars of your potential customers? Of course there are. So you do have competitors. Saying you don’t have any at best shows you to be a little naive. To me it shows that you can’t explain why you are different. Many businesses haven’t given enough thought to what is different about what they offer and why customers should do business with them.
My suggestion is: come up with some statements that position you in relation to two or three of your competitors. Never say anything negative about your competition – that looks worse than saying you have none. Here’s one way of saying it: “Competitor X offers much more/bigger/better X than us [X being something you don’t do], whereas we offer [insert something they cannot offer or don’t do as well as you can].”
I read a blog post on this subject by a young entrepreneur today who agrees that saying you have no competitors causes your audience to roll their eyes, and he suggests some much nicer ways of saying it:
no one is doing this the way we are
there are other companies working on various aspects of this problem
Unfortunately he then goes on to say that his company is doing something incredibly unique and that some entrepreneurs have a vision that is vastly unique. OK, lost me there. A former journalist colleague who I worked with in my first PR job told me never to use the word unique, because it means that there has never been something like it and never will be. This is highly unlikely and causes people to be suspicious. Also it is so overused that it has lost some of its meaning. But then to qualify it as being incredibly or vastly unique? Oh boy.