Researching your competitors can be a great way to keep up to date with industry developments, identify new market opportunities and find out what is and isn’t working for others.
But occasionally competitive analysis can turn into competitive paralysis, where you become so focused on what your competitors are doing that you lose sight of what you are trying to achieve or worse lose all motivation.
To prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and distracted by your competitors, here are five tips to keep your competition in the proper perspective.
1. Be a leader not a follower
When you change the way you do business or take an alternate course of action because of what your competitors are doing, they become the leader and you become the follower.
You are making business decisions based on someone else's plans and goals instead of your own. Your business becomes dependent on what your competitors are doing, putting you always one step behind.
As a business owner you shouldn't change your actions or decisions in reaction to any competitor. Certainly innovate when needed, though focus on building a business that works for you and value-adds to your customers.
2. Remember you won't get every customer
It's important to realise that you won't get every customer, there will always be those that go elsewhere. So don't covet your competitor’s customers, even if some of them once belonged to you. Instead focus on your own ideal target market and look to dominate there.
3. Be different
If you want to get ahead in business the key is to be different. You can certainly learn from other people's successes and failures though don't spend all of your time looking in the rear view or side mirrors watching what everyone else is doing, focus ahead on your goals and the best direction to go.
Develop your point of difference, what you can offer your clients and prospects that no one else can (or at least not as well). Perhaps it is in your processes, the quality of your products or services, your experience and expertise or the follow up services you provide. Focus on your differences and what your current clients say they love about you.
4. Look at their weaknesses not strengths
When you do look at what your competitors are doing, look for their weaknesses and the growth opportunities you have out of those, instead of focusing on their strengths and how you can replicate them. Find where they fall down or are vulnerable and turn those areas into your strengths.
5. Stay focused on your customer, not your competition
If you want to grow your business and expand your market share, the best and quickest way to do it is to stay focused on your customer not your competitors.
What do your customers want and need? What are their problems and challenges? What results do they want from your product or service? The more you can get inside your customers mind the more relevant and targeted you can make your products, services and marketing. Give your customers what they want and they will not only keep coming back they will also refer their family, friends and colleagues.
So be a leader, find opportunities to be different, stay focused on what your customer wants and continually value-add and innovate to give it to them. Do this and you won't have to worry about your competitors. They on the other hand will have a lot to worry about with you.