There was an interesting discussion tonight at the Marketing Academy between two successful business people. And I found both opinions to be confusingly thought-provoking…
When finding a tone of voice for a client, one of the first things I do is look at their competitors, helping me to position the company within the market and broaden my knowledge within that sector. Looking at these competitors can also be quite inspirational – it may highlight offers to aspire too, for example, and looking at bigger competitors can help me to suggest certain goals to beat, etc.
One Academy member agreed with my methods, suggesting that ‘looking at your competitors can give you a great idea of how to stay unique within your market…’, a very valid statement in my opinion! Then another added, ‘I disagree with that actually; I used to look at my competitors obsessively but grew to realise that it was a distraction and that being unique involves consistency. Stay true to yourself…’, and again, I would have to say that I agree with this statement.
When competing in a running race, looking behind you is a waste of valuable time, distracting you from your goal. At the same time, could it motivate you further if you saw how closely a competitor was approaching? In business, is it more beneficial to know where you stand or to focus on your owns goals? Does looking at your competition help you to set these goals?
Personally, I came to the conclusion that a mix of both is probably the healthiest option – checking out the competition will help to increase your understanding of both your sector and audience, but perhaps doing it obsessively is more giving-into-temptation than it is necessary…?