At one point or another, almost all of us have seen a neighbor bring home a fancy new car, TV or other toy. When we were kids, keeping up with the Joneses was supposedly one way you could measure your family’s success, and people, being the group animals we are, continue to be motivated by this even today.
You may or may not keep track of what your neighbors are dumping on their credit cards, but we’re willing to bet you keep a very close eye on what your business competitors are doing when it comes to marketing and customer service.
You: Wow, check out our competitors’ new website. They did a really nice job. Look they have a big thing there talking about their “3 months free” offer and I love how they did it in black and white. We should just do this too so we stay competitive.
First off, always keep this in mind when seeing what your competitors are up to: just because they’re doing something, it doesn’t mean it’s working. They are likely doing “spaghetti” marketing to throw some money at many opportunities and see what sticks. So take your mom’s guidance here: “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you too?”
Here’s a better way to take a step back and analyze what the competitor might be doing in more detail:
You: Wow, check out our competitors’ new website. They did a really nice job. Look they have a big thing there talking about…
The Rational Side of Your Brain: Hold up there, pardner. Sure, these new features might bring in more customers, but we need to do some research on whether it would be the kinds of customers we want. If these aren’t going to be repeat customers, how do we snag them 3 months from now when it’s time for the next service? Also, could we try a more limited scope change like what the competitor did and put some measurement behind it to see if it works?
Measure, Measure, Measure
No matter what it is you see a competitor doing, nothing gives better results than research and measurement. Here’s the real key: Do your homework before copying your competitor and then do something better.
We see the “me too” thought process creeping in a bit too often in the web development world. A client falls in love with someone else’s website and wants to do something just like that. But going with your gut has 2 big drawbacks:
1. It’s YOUR gut. There are plenty of other guts out there, trust us. And chances are very good that you aren’t as dialed in on what the bulk of your target audience wants as you think you are.
2. Guts AREN’T brains. Research shows that with enough experience and education, you can make great decisions with your gut. The problem is that you very likely don’t have enough of the fundamentals to make a good gut-based decision. In our experience, clients who are more analytic in their reasoning get better results.
Any time you find something new and cool that someone else is doing, resist the temptation to leap and instead step back. Watch and evaluate. Come up with ideas to make it even better and then figure out the best way to implement it for your own business.