The truth is: competition is a good thing. It ignites innovation and is critical for change. Competition keeps us on our toes, forces us to look outside ourselves and beyond what we do well. It makes us consider the perspective of the customer. This viewpoint forces us to look outside our own best practices and makes us acknowledge we are not providing goods and services in a silo.
There is a little competitive fire in us all, and there’s a secret high we all get when we beat out another organization for someone’s business. This is a healthy environment in which to work, AND it breeds a competitive marketplace for the consumer. Win/win, right?
Now, not everyone/everything is your competition, but for those entities who are, it is imperative to your own business operations to pay close attention and keep tabs on what they are doing (a little stalking may be necessary). The world’s best athletes and sports teams voraciously study their rivals before going head-to-head.
The same goes for businesses—even the largest ones. Apple has Samsung, Facebook had every other social platform known to man, and Nike had Adidas. They knew that following their competition would help drive their ideas forward, pushing them to become the absolute best in their market—in terms of popularity or profitability. Know your competitors, their strengths, their weaknesses and use that to your advantage.
The crucial distinction is knowing the difference between comparing and competing. Knowing your competition doesn’t mean you should compare yourselves to them. Nike and Adidas are both mega conglomerations who are probably most well known for being manufacturers and distributors of shoes. What’s the key difference now? Nike has cornered the market on sport and athletic footwear, while Adidas remains a more commercial brand geared toward fashion athletic sneakers. Going head-to-head with Nike almost bankrupt the company, but creating a niche for the same product (athletic footwear) helped preserve the brand. Both have expanded beyond footwear and are now lifestyle brands, but successful in their own ways.
So, you’ve identified who your competitors are and confidently know what they do, but how do you stay on top of them? Here are a few areas to monitor:
- Non-digital space (advertisements, print, broadcasting etc.)
- This has fallen by the wayside since we have evolved in the digital world. But there could be a niche for you to market in non-saturated ways.
- Keywords (how you want to be found online)
- Web rankings (what is your SEO score?)
- Social media mentions and engagement (the phone book is dead, people. How will customers find you? Social.)
There is a multitude of tools your company, or preferably a specialized marketing firm (cough, cough) can use to monitor your competition in the marketplace. Strategize and plan what mediums and tools are the most effective for your business. Whatever those might be, use that information to become an irrefutable commodity, and let your competitive fire burn!