There is much said these days about paying very close attention to your competition and about not paying such close attention. It seems like every other day some marketing guru gets up and makes some bold proclamation either way and the average business person who just wants to stay competitive in the first place is left in a quandary as to “what to do.” I myself ascribe to the common sense theory. Here’s the first point of view:
The more time you spend on your competition, the less time you are spending on your company. While it is important to know who your competitors are and what they are doing, it is more important for you to constantly improve on what your customers want and need and that data can be gathered only from your customers, not from your competition. The idea is simple:
1.Create/Define the Market
2. Be First
3.Be the Best
4.Never Look Back
The second opinion is that you have to evaluate your competitors for several important reasons. I genuinely take issue with those who say you don't; anymore than you can drive by ignoring other drivers. You reach your destination with your own route and your own map. But you're aware, or hopefully you should be aware of ways in which your competitors' plans can interfere with you...that is to say, get in your way...and cut you off. You don't win races by being the fastest car or fastest runner. You drive a smart race. You take advantage of your tactical opportunities. You win baseball games not by being the best hitter or the fastest pitcher, but by finding ways to neutralize your opponent's advantages, and get the most from your own skills and opportunities. You ask yourself DEEPER competitive questions. How can my competitor change the game on me? How can I change the game on them? How can I have better market insight than my competitor? What does he see that I'm missing? What is he missing that I can use? What difference will it make if he does THIS? Are there market developments I need to be prepared for? It's exactly like defensive driving. You make sure THEIR actions don't cause YOU to miss your exit or have an accident. The best way to describe it is to say its like driving with your eyes wide open and your mind fully active. So let’s be careful out there and have a safe drive, to a successful business.
Have a good week and keep your eyes on the road!