Two conversations do not make a trend, but it’s made me take notice nonetheless. Yesterday, in conversations with clients, underhanded tactics by competitors became the topic of the dialogue.

I am a fan of beating competitors by being better than them: doing, whatever it is you do, faster, more efficiently, delivering more value, at a better price. You get the idea. It’s the honorable way to compete, and lots of fun. And when you compete this way, you usually end up with a competitive advantage that you can leverage for even more success.

This is a threat to your competitors, to which they will respond. Hopefully by trying to be better, just as you have. But in these especially turbulent times, your threat to their livelihood is magnified, and the response might come in unexpected ways. Dirty tricks, unethical behavior, desparate tactics.

It might just be a good idea for you to brainstorm with your team about what possible “underhanded” tactics you might be facing and how you will respond to them and overcome them. Hopefully not by employing even more underhanded tactics yourself, entering into a arms race that no one will win, but by employing tactics that emphasize the value proposition or competitive advantage of your company that serves the needs of you customers.

Think about customer motivations. How to get the customers what they want without rolling around in the mud with your competitor.

Potential outcomes: You’ll be prepared for anything. You’ll also get some great ideas that could become additional competitive advantages.