Let’s talk about comparison.
Competitive analysis is a part of every brand strategy. We look at competitors (indirect and direct) in your industry so that we can understand what they are doing well and where you differentiate. Comparison can be useful in the sense that it gives us an idea of where you stand, and how your brand can be positioned in your industry.
Comparing your company to your competitors has many advantages – but over comparison can be downright detrimental, leading to endless distractions, and even worse, reactive marketing that neglects your customers’ actual needs.
So how do you know when a little healthy competition becomes unhealthy? And how can you make sure you’re not over comparing?
When we run a competitor analysis, we’re doing so in a structured manner. It’s a key part of the brand strategy process. Context matters here. We are focusing on what’s important so that we can identify areas where there is opportunity or where improvements are needed. The comparison is done in a purposeful way, and handled with care. Trying to understand your competitors through structured analysis vs. keeping constant tabs on them are two very different approaches.
A good way to go about this outside of the brand strategy is to set a day each month or bi-weekly to check in on your competitors and take notes. Do this instead of checking every day. That’s a distraction. Keep it structured.
Do I think you shouldn’t keep an eye on the competition? Not necessarily. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the market and in your industry. But something happens when companies spend too much time worrying about their competitors – they become distracted, and their marketing becomes reactive. All of a sudden, their messaging, their advertising, their marketing becomes more of a reaction to what their competitors are doing than a response to their customers’ needs. Don’t do this to your customers.
Overcomparison can lead us to lose sight of who we are. Instead, focus on getting really clear on your brand, on who you are, and on what your customers need from you. When you have true clarity on those things, competition becomes much less of a distraction.
A word on copycats
So another company in your industry copied your messaging or marketing tactics? You’re not alone. This unfortunately happens in every industry. It’s either because a) everyone is talking about the same generic thing, in which case you have an opportunity to shake things up or b) you ran into someone who lacks integrity and ripped off your brand, in which case they are the worst. Either way, for the most part, and unless they are violating copyright, it is out of your control. Just stay focused on who your company is and putting that out there.
No matter your industry, community can be more powerful than competition. Embrace connecting with others in your industry. The saying “your network is your net worth” is wildly cliche but also true. Even if a business is an indirect competitor chances are you can support each other in some way. Am I saying you have to be best friends with your competition? No. You don’t even have to like them. But there’s nothing wrong with it if you do want to build a relationship, and you might even find that there is more benefit in building relationships with similar businesses.
Think Abundance, Not Scarcity
Scarcity tells us that nothing is enough. I don’t like to approach competitive analysis from a place of scarcity because I really do think there is more than enough business and sales to go around. It’s not about stealing all of their sales or clients. It’s about getting clear on who YOU are and the customers you want to attract, the sales goals you want to achieve, so that we can make that happen. Competitive analysis is just another important tool to nudge us closer to clarity and to help us position your brand the way it needs to be.
Ready to build a brand you love through a carefully crafted strategy? Let’s work together.