I have a confession to make.
The most irritating question I’ve received as a marketer is this:
“Let’s check out our competition, conduct some research… what are they doing?”
I have wanted to say for many, many years…
Why is it so important to “check out our competition?” Believe me, I’ve done it because I’ve been told to do it by my manager. But do you know what I’ve found?
Every stinkin’ one of those competitors was doing almost the exact same thing as the rest of them!
No originality. Nothing that would differentiate them from the rest of the competition. Switch out the logos and brand colors and you’d have basically the same website.
Although it may bring some (a little) value to know what your competition is doing, it’s not nearly as important as many may think.
Put simply, you’re not going to get ahead by understanding your competition.
You get ahead by bringing a unique solution to a hungry audience.
You have to stop thinking of “competition.” I know it’s difficult because we are living in one of the most competitive economies that ever existed. But in order to succeed and thrive in such a competitive market, you must do the exact opposite of what most people do when they feel stressed and worried about their business.
I cannot emphasize it enough. The breakthrough solutions the world needs isn’t going to result from some analyst reverse-engineering their competitor’s website.
It’s going to come from creativity.
I remember almost spitting my coffee out when I read somewhere that companies were outsourcing their R&D departments.
WHAT?!! Are you KIDDING me?!!
This is the SOUL of a business. It’s what makes them… them. It’s like taking a woman and making her a Stepford Wife. Without innovation that comes from a combination of the heart and mind of those invested in the success of that business, there is only mimicry.
And in case you’ve not noticed, the world isn’t clamoring for copycat solutions.
They’re clamoring for Apple, Red Bull, and Zappos. They desire new inventions like vending machines that make the perfect infused tea, bicycle lights that let vehicles on the side know a cyclist is in their blind spot, and 3D printed makeup that perfectly matches the hue of one’s skin.
These types of companies and inventions didn’t happen because their founders were gazing at the competition. It was because they were looking in another direction.
You are here to create.
Not to compete with what everyone else is doing.
You are to become a creator, to tap into that rich source of ideas and inspiration that lies deep within you, once you take your eyes off of what everyone else is doing and instead, decide what YOU are going to do.
Fill your mind with the good stuff. Not the mental equivalent of a Big Mac, but with the achievements of great men and women.
With music by Bach and Jimmy Hendrix. Art by Monet and MC Escher. Books by J.R.R. Tolkien and Isabel Allende. Poetry by John Donne and Pablo Neruda.
Be choosy about your entertainment. Look for what is considered a “classic” and then learn why. Filling your mind with the good stuff is like giving premium gasoline to a Maserati MC12 Corsa. Your brain will purr with optimal performance on a diet like that.
Instead of focusing on the competition, focus instead on your creativity. Create… let it fly, splatter the hallways with your genius and don’t worry about the mess.
Then focus on your target market. Figure out what they want, what they truly hunger for… and then look at the splattered walls. See where the two converge. And then market the hell out of it.
Do that, and the chances you’ll ignite a blazing inferno of viral creativity will be very great, indeed.