In highly competitive fields, it’s tempting to focus only on your competitors. An individual might set up a Google alert for his competitor’s name. A large company might hire a media monitoring company to track its competitor’s popularity, influence, and public segments.
When the stakes are high, we tend to look over our shoulders to the next competitor in line. We adjust our performance based on theirs; we try to develop a product with a few more features, or we try to populate our resumes with a little more relevant experience.
In business, this “one-up” driven mindset can lead to two problems:
During your brainstorming sessions, you might find it easy to pull inspiration from what your competitors have already done. What someone has already produced and put out to the world is already in the hands of the customers and they are probably already attached to those products. You have to figure out what else can you put out so to make their life easier or more entertaining.
Differentiating your brand is no small feat. Look at the insurance industry. Some would say it is the most boring industry. Yet, big insurance players always win big at commercial film festivals. They throw big dollars at creating delightful, shareable Super Bowl and primetime commercials to one-up each other. However, newcomers like Lemonade Insurance in the US are gaining traction and giving big players a ride for their money.
Look beyond your closest competitors. Benchmark yourself against different markets. Have an outsider’s perspective and ask them what areas you can improve on. Find for new sources of inspiration and new standards to shoot for.