Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of focusing the majority of their attention on what their competitors are doing instead of gaining first hand market data. When entrepreneurs play “follow the leader” they are playing a dangerous game that assumes the perceived market leading competitor is connected to the needs and pains of market buyers.
Market leaders are aware of competitor activity; however they plan their strategy with first hand market data.
Market losers set out to do what their competitors are doing…but better.
When you copy what your competitors are doing you are making one key erroneous assumption: that your competitor knows your market, your buyers, and your buyer’s buying process. ( which is often not the case)
If we recognize most marketing is developed at board room tables with gut , intuition and “back when I was in the market…” information following your competitor is a dangerous game to play.Or as David Daniels put it in his eBook : Is your Product Launch Doomed?…” Mimicing a competitor can lead to lost market opportunity, misdirection of resources, and loss of focus…”
More often than not marketing strategy is made by HIPPOS; the Highest Paid Person in marketing’s Opinions.
For example, I had to run some errands in Mesa Saturday and imagine my surprise when I returned to my car and I saw a sea of purple windshield fliers in the parking lot creating marketing litter. In my recent post I discussed how we must make sure when we Chase new business we do so in a way consistent with our brand and our brand promise.
I shared how Chase Bank used a purple windshield wiper flier to drive new accounts at month end in my last post. Do the leaders at TCF Bank think Purple windshield fliers ( Like Chase Bank) is an industry best practice since one of the market leaders does it? Or was the nimble , much smaller TCf Bank’s efforts the reason Chase Bank tried this strategy?
You have been in those meetings…everyone on the cross functional team share their views , and then the highest paid person in the room (hippo) calls an audible from left field based on their gut and or what a market leading competitor is currently doing ( after they are real smart right?). The cross functional team is left scratching its collectives heads as strategy direction is made based on the gut and past experience of the highest paid person in the room.
Market leaders gather first hand market data and shape their strategy based on current information.
They say ; “rational people, if given the right data will make rational decisions” .What we learn in “rational choice theory” that people make decisions about how they should act by comparing the costs and benefits of different courses of action. Patterns of behavior will develop within the society those results from those choices. The society in this case is competing suppliers battling for market share each day.
Decisions made with first hand current market data drive successful strategies.
Strategies that are initiated based on what market leading competitors do often fail.
How about your organization….
Are Hippo’s calling an audible that lacks market data justification?
Does your marketing team kick off campaigns that mirror what market leaders in your industry are doing?
…how’s that working for you?
Are your sales tools built by corporate Hippos who have not met with a customer in over six months…twelve months?
Playing follow the leader is a dangerous game, particularly if your Hippos insist you mirror a competitor with the assumption the competitor must know what they are doing.
Smart entrepreneurs are aware of what the 800 lb gorilla in their market is doing, but do not blindly mirror their strategies and tactics.
Smaller competitors are often more connected to the needs of their market and more nimble.
Have you mirrored a competitor and it drove sales that surpassed your ROI goals?
Can you share a Hippo based initiative that mirrored a competitor and failed miserably?
Besides,when you choose follow , competitor and or a Hippo,the view rarely changes,..ad the outcome often stinks.