It was January 2011 and I just stepped into a new role. Little did I know at the time that this role would be a defining moment in my life. Basically, the bar would be raised to the point where nothing beneath it would be acceptable anymore.
Being the only marketing person in the company, it was a huge position. Although, I didn’t have the title manager I did feel like a manager. Everything was mine to decide. Yes, it needed to get approved. But my opinion got valued the most. What I felt strongly about got actioned.
So, at the start of the job we sat down to put together the marketing plan. This being a very common step in any new marketing position.
And I remember factoring in competitor analysis and putting it down to be done every week. Yep, that was the plan.
Did it actually happen?
In fact, that year, I did little to no competitor analysis. Not that I did it on purpose, but basically other priorities took over.
Did that influence my performance that year?
I feel very confident in saying that it didn’t have an impact at all. Career wise, it was my most successful year by far.
Because my goal was to produce the best work that I could, aiming to do better and better every day. And not knowing a lot about my competitors, didn’t stop me from producing my best work even though the industry I stepped into was completely new to me.
I quickly outlined what my priorities were and with the time that I had I applied my best to the job.
Of course research influenced my ideas and suggestions, but very little was competitor research. Being hungry for new ideas and concepts, I didn’t feel I’d achieve much simply following my competitors. At that time, for me, it was more about the world of marketing than specifically following the industry I was in.
Even my managers loved the fact that I was completely new to the industry and didn’t see this as a disadvantage whatsoever. They wanted fresh ideas, words, designs and weren’t limited to what was common in the industry.
Trust me, boundaries were pushed and achievements were made and by the end of that one year I felt like I could take on the world. Like there was nothing that I couldn’t do. I was very proud with what I had accomplished that year and started my first stint of maternity leave with a deep sense of fulfillment. I wasn’t even concerned with having the next nine months off. I felt like I’d earnt it after the year I had.
And it was only one year. Trust me, that isn’t much. I’d often think about what I would’ve done if I’d been there longer?
Now, I’m not saying not to worry about competitor analysis at all, but I don’t think that’s where the focus needs to be.
3 reasons why competitor analysis isn’t that important
No. 1 – It blocks your thinking
I remember a few times in this awesome job that I had, which I refer to as job #8, where I tried to do something very similar to what a competitor did and it blocked my thinking.
What I’ve experienced is that you become so focused on finding examples that are so similar to your competitor that you miss out on a world of opportunities.
Because it narrows down your thinking to what you have in front of you missing out on all the other possibilities.
I remember when I gave my assistant the simple task of finding website images and how it suddenly became more difficult when she started to look for images that were very similar to what our competitor had.
It was taking forever.
And every image she found, to her, wasn’t as good as the competitor’s images. Because, basically, it wasn’t exactly the same. You see, in her mind she already had a fixed idea of what it needed to look like.
That’s where I stepped in, closed down the screen with the competitor’s images and focused on what we needed for the content that we wanted to display and found some quite fast.
Looking too closely at what your competitors are doing can sometimes be a waste of time.
No. 2 – “It’s not about being better than your competitor, but improving as a company¹”
All the great minds that I follow from all over the world like Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek and Marie Forleo all talk about this need that people have to continuously develop. To improve as people, as professionals. This is where we find our fulfillment.
So, if we have developed and moved forward with our achievements as a company, does it really matter what our competitors have done?
This is precisely what Simon Sinek means when he says “The point is to be better than ourselves not our competitors².”
And this is what I experienced with job #8 when I talk about having that feeling where I could take on the world and win. This joy came from the advancements that I experienced personally and professionally that year. It didn’t come from comparing myself to what my competitors had done.
No. 3 – This type of competition shouldn’t worry you
Competition from outside the company isn’t the competition that you should worry about. Nor should it be a huge focus.
It’s the competition that’s experienced within the company that should be of concern.
What do I mean?
When work colleagues work against each other instead of for each other for personal gain.
When the focus is on “How can this benefit me?” Instead of, “How can this benefit the team?”
This is the type of competition that can do damage to a company. And this is where actions need to be put in place to ensure an environment of this sort doesn’t develop.
What are your thoughts? How important do you believe competitor analysis is?
See you next week.
¹YouTube – Simon Sinek’s Top 10 Rules for Success.
²YouTube – Simon Sinek’s Top 10 Rules for Success.
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