Part of running a business is gauging how you stand in the marketplace. Obviously, your bottom line is the most telling indicator of how your business is doing, but what about the competition? Should you take the time to compare your business to those who provide the same or similar products or services?
Comparing the Competition: Good or Bad?
Businesses of all sizes indirectly compare themselves to one another every day. The most obvious example of comparisons is through emulation. It’s common in the fast-food industry; one big restaurant chain comes out with a new menu and shortly thereafter, their closest competition does the same.
You see it all the time. One business unveils a thrifty promotion or exciting, new, innovative product and before too long, all the competitors have their own twist on the novelty. If your competition exclusively provides something of great value or novelty, they have a de facto monopoly on that niche of the marketplace.
Or do they? Barring a patent, trademark, or copyright, businesses have every right to emulate each other. There’s no legal roadblock prohibiting a small business from copying a more successful competitor’s product, or even their business model. However, what separates brands is their differentiation.
With that said, copying your competition can backfire. Customers value originality, and failing to produce your own unique brand voice can lead to confusion, dilution, and ultimately, lost market share. At the end of the day, adhering too closely to what your competition is doing can lead to spending less time on what matters: your customers-and what they’re doing.
Who Should You Compare Your Business To?
There are two aspects of your business that matter more than any other: your employees and your customers. That’s where you’ll find the most valuable insights on improving customer experience and providing complete value. With that said, put your competitors on the backburner and pay more attention to the human resources that make your business go.
You’ll get a better idea of how your business is doing by comparing it to past versions of your business. Is the experience better than it was six months ago? Are you providing more for your customers than you did when you opened? Do your employees feel valued? One simple trick is to treat your employees like customers. Be transparent, responsive to feedback, and steadfast in choosing and training the right people to represent your brand.
But having happy, well-trained employees isn’t a magic solution to exponential business growth. You can’t completely ignore your competition. The most important thing to keep tabs on is ensuring they don’t provide anything noteworthy that you don’t. Look for ways to differentiate yourself and stand out, and more importantly look for ways to represent values that matter to your customers so you can make important, authentic connections and create brand loyalty.
Make Your Brand Stick Out
The bottom line is if you spend too much time looking for comparisons and trying to gauge the market, you’ll miss out on the more important things. There is a time and a place for data analysis, and balance plays a crucial role in keeping things running smoothly.
Instead of worrying about how your customers view your competition, focus on what your customers think of you. Listen to their needs, goals, complaints, and aspirations and pay attention to their behaviors, attitudes, activities, and trends. Value your employees and your workforce and deliver optimal value wherever and whenever possible.