Last week my son stood beside me while I was on the treadmill with the TV on, and paid particular attention to a Dodge Ram commercial on TV. Of course I often talk business related issues with my boys, and my 14-year-old will often bring up business related topics. “Dad, do you know what I like about the Ram commercials?” my son queried. “What?” I replied. I like that they use actual statistics about their trucks, and they truly do an honest comparison with other trucks in the same class.
My son has caught on to the fact that in so many cases, advertisers are simply floating dreams and ideas that are not grounded in any data or facts. This is the part of the world of marketing, and can indeed be an effective strategy, especially for products and services that tend to pull on the our emotions. What my son was pointing out though, is that there is value in actually presenting true, measurable facts, figures and comparisons. He saw value in knowing the truth and saw the value for the consumer in truly understanding how a product stacks up against the competition. To be successful, we all need to have a realistic view regarding where we stand in comparison to our competition.
There is an interesting tension for business when it comes to comparisons. On the one hand, I sometimes remind clients that they should not get too caught up in worrying about what the competition is doing, but should rather direct their focus on developing their own products and services, their growth strategy and their brand promises, and then simply deliver. On the other hand though, it is important to know what the competition is up to. A business offering a product or service should have an awareness of the market and how theirs compare(s) to the competition. However, they must not get so caught up in the competition that they are unable to focus on their own excellence. I have seen both happen.
My recommendation is to always keep one eye on the competition, but to keep all other eyes on developing your own industry leading strategy, being innovative and developing new offerings that customers and consumers will get excited about. This is a tricky balance to strike, but it is critical nevertheless. Your primary focus should be on executing your own strategy – the one that makes your company unique.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- Conduct an assessment with your executive team to determine how much focus you currently are placing on the competition, versus your internal innovation, strategy development and execution.
- Assess for the most significant competition in the marketplace and how you will differentiate yourself from these competitors.
- Flesh out your differentiating strategy, where you need to be most innovative and what your own competitive advantage is.
- Make sure you have the right people in place to execute on the strategy, focus primarily on your own competitive advantage and at this point, pay very little attention to your competition.