Beat Your Competitors by Ignoring Them

March 05, 2018

OK, I don’t really mean that you should completely ignore your competitors. But a lot of marketing departments – and businesses in general – are so focused (even obsessed) about what their competitors are doing that everything they do is reactive. I call this “me too” marketing.

The problem with focusing primarily on the competition is that you can never create any innovative programs or communications – you’re always playing in the space where they already are.

Of course, you need to know what your competitors are doing. Sometimes they will have very good ideas and you’ll want to incorporate them into your own plans. But looking at the competition should be the last step in the planning process, never the first.

To beat the pants off your competition, forget what they’re doing for a minute and build your plans based on your goals. You need to start with a blank sheet of paper. Use a “blue sky” approach to free you from pre-conceived notions of existing tactics so you can develop innovative, results-oriented programs. This forces you to think strategically (how can we achieve our goals) rather than tactically (let’s do a webinar). Once you’ve developed the plan, only then should you look at what competitors are doing. If they’re doing something great, look for a way to adapt it to make it your own. This approach works whether you’re developing a company-wide annual marketing strategy or a specific, focused project plan (e.g., North America trade show plan).

There’s an interesting side effect to this approach: competitors will start copying you. That’s a very good thing. You can keep innovating and they will keep following – which means they are now the ones playing a perpetual game of catch-up.

To maintain a competitive edge - don’t focus on what they’re doing, build your plans based on your goals.

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