In my work, I meet two different types of business owners and managers. There are those that spend all of their time focusing on what the competition is doing, and there are those who never pay attention to competitors.
Which bucket do you fall in?
The people that focus on the competition are worried about losing customers. They are worried about special offers and promotions in the marketplace. They see changes in competitors marketing strategy or product offerings and react to them.
The people that don’t care about competitors claim there are no “real competitors”. What we offer is better or different, they say. No one does exactly what we do, and that’s why our customers choose us, they argue.
Which group is better off?
You might argue that the people in group one are being too reactionary, spending too much time worrying about the competition and not enough time building their own brand. You’re right.
You also might argue that the people in group two are a little naïve about their market and might miss something important that could affect their business. You’re right again.
In reality, you have to be a little bit of both, and somewhere in between. While it’s important to know who your competitors are, and what they’re doing, it’s also important to differentiate yourself and define your own brand. Customers are looking for a reason to buy from you and not them. You can’t give them a reason if you’re just copying what your competition is doing, but you also can’t give them a reason if you don’t know what your competition is doing.
Succeeding in a competitive environment means knowing what other companies are doing, and offering something better. What value do you provide your customers?
Next week we will be digging deeper into the competitive landscape in two posts designed to offer conflicting views of how to deal with the competition. Stay tuned!