How much time to you spend thinking about your competition and how to beat them? Do you find yourself trying to figure out what your competition is doing? Have you ever been tempted to copy something a competitor does?
My advice? Stop worrying and start winning. I realize that what I'm saying is incongruous with that insistent voice in your head, but it is true and here's why:
1. No two companies are alike. Think about a few top brands and their competitors: McDonalds v. Burger King; Microsoft v. Apple; Mercedes Benz v. BMW. All are similar products, but each has very different characteristics and personalities and people love them each for different and individual reasons.
2. Build on your brand, expand your strengths. Differentiating yourself is an integral key to success. Hint: If your competition can say, "Oh we do that, too" - it's a feature not a benefit. Features are easy to duplicate but benefits can differentiate your brand and win the business.
3. There is enough business to go around. Whether you believe that statement or not, it is a fact. No matter what business you are in, if you were the only one providing a service or product, you could never service everyone, nor could you make everybody happy. No matter if your product is "identical" to another, people's perceptions shape who they choose to do business with. So get over thinking that there is not enough business to go around and get out there and find the audience that is attracted to your brand and develop a great relationship with them. There are plenty of customers out there looking for exactly what you do and the way you do it.
4. Copycats never win - at least not in the long run. Copycats will always be known as the poser rather than the original thought leader, product developer, creator or genius. Creativity gets people excited, excitement ignites passion, passion fuels loyalty and loyalty translates to sustainable revenue and profit for your business.
How to beat the competition, because, of course, this is still something you want to do. Obsess about your customers. The very nature of being competitive pushes us to our limits and drives us to new ideas and better ways of doing things that define a better experience for our clients. Spend time focusing not on the competition, but in providing experiences for your customers, which will translate to loyalty for your brand.
Constant battle with the competition lands you safely in the middle of the pack, not in the lead. Focusing on the competition doesn't develop you or your brand as a leader. Change your focus and turn inward to develop the personality and promise of your company and you'll find that the outcome will be positively rewarding - and best of all, your customers will love you for it.
So should you love thy competition? Yes. They make you better; You make them better. In the end, the customer wins and that is something we can all take to the bank.