It’s secretly acting to protect your market share and profits from an encroaching competitor by generating and organizing community opposition. It is extremely effective and widely done. Even if you are not doing it, there is little doubt it is being done to you.
It is extraordinarily difficult to get any development project approved these days. It is an opponent driven system and the politics favor the opponents. As someone who specializes exclusively in land use politics, I can assure you that it is far easier to destroy a project than to get one approved. Leveraging fear, distrust, social networking tools and surging levels of community activism, businesses can harness grassroots politics to stop competing project approvals dead in their tracks.
How to Smell a Rat is one of our most popular seminars for executive teams, development professionals and anyone charged with securing local approvals. Identifying competitor generated opposition and understanding how it is practiced can help you overcome it.
10 Signs of Competitor Generated Opposition
1. The neighbors have hired a lawyer and/or experts. Few real neighbors can or would.
2. The opposition group keeps moving the goal post. When one source of concerned is taken care of, they come up with another. They will never actually agree to anything.
3. The only person you ever see is an attorney representing a “group”. The members never really show up.
4. Average blue-collar citizens begin spouting sophisticated arguments against your project. (They may even turn up with index cards and read their scripted arguments.)
5. People who live on the other side of town (or out of town) turn up in opposition to your project.
6. You are attacked by a sudden series of letters to the editor in the local paper.
7. The citizens’ group begins buying newspaper ads costing hundreds of dollars, with no visible signs of fundraising activity.
8. The citizens group demands mitigation and/or linkage far beyond reason and far above anything they would concoct on their own.
9. People who have no apparent reason to be interested in your project begin circulating petitions opposing it.
10. You learn that someone has been doing a telephone poll on your project.
The best practices and approaches for working with real neighbors and local stakeholders are entirely different than the techniques needed to overcome competitor generated threats. Not knowing the difference puts you at a major disadvantage.