You have no competitors? Really?

“We don’t have any competitors.”

“What we do is completely unique.”

“No one does quite what we do.”

I hear this a lot. At first, I believed people when they said it. But not any more.

It doesn’t matter whether I’m working as a copywriter or a social media ‘thing’, it’s my job to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, given what your audience wants to hear. And, more often than not, the audience will want to hear why you’re better/different/more relevant to their needs than other people.

An example: imagine I’m an MD with a problem I need to fix. So, I’ve commissioned someone to go and look for solutions providers (which immediately brings to mind another point: the target here is the person creating the shortlist, not the MD!). That person comes back with, say, five candidates. They all say their technology is better than anyone else’s.

Who does the MD choose? Immediately you’ve made his or her job harder because they simply cannot choose between you. And that’s because you didn’t look at your competitors and figure out how to differentiate yourselves. You need to make it as easy as possible through differentation.

As a copywriter, I need to know about your competitors because I want to help with this differentiation. But as a social media consultant it’s equally as important because really, social media is about entering into a marketplace of conversation.

Again, to illustrate: say you’ve told your MD you have 300 more Twitter followers. This means diddly squat until or unless you compare it to your competitors. If they’ve got 3,000 more followers, you’re doing very badly. If they’ve got 3, you’re doing really well. Without that competitive comparison, you simply do not know how you’re performing. And as anyone who runs a business will tell you, that’s a risk you can ill afford.

So, next time you think you’ve got an idea so amazing that you’re sure no one else has thought of it, think again. Look around, because if the idea’s that good, someone somewhere will also have thought of it, and you need to beat that person to the money. And often, that’s going to come down to what you say, and how you say it.

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2 thoughts on “You have no competitors? Really?

  1. Start-up Canadian company – online directory listing educational programs/workshops offered to schools.(in-school or field trip) where teachers can search by curriculum, subject, age group, location, etc..

    I too am finding it challenging to find out who are my competitors.

    Wondering if there are key questions to ask to help think who they may be?

    Any suggestions ??

    There is a company in the UK http://www.school-workshops.com/ that would be a definite competitor if I were located there.

  2. Hi Sylvie,

    I think this is something that you need to address sooner rather than later! For example, what was it that got you into setting up an online directory listing? Did you think it was just a great idea, or had you noticed other people doing something similar? If the latter then you have somewhere to begin. If the former, then I really do expect that your ‘great idea’ will have competitors somewhere – simply because it’s great!

    Without knowing more about your specific site, I can only offer broad ideas. For example, the UK site you mention, you could do a Google search to see who links up to that site, using the link:http://www.school-workshops.com/ parameter. If you can also use Google’s advanced features to zero in on Canadian-only sites (which I’m not sure about, being in the UK myself) then you’d have a better chance of finding someone.

    Don’t be restricted just to immediate competitors either. There may be other services for education that provide something similar or, having seen what you do, might decide to muscle in on what you do. So these could be local universities, colleges, adult education services, or even public services such as libraries.

    If this doesn’t give any results, try talking to people! As you’re out pitching for business, ask people if they know of any other similar services. They’re your experts out there, so use them.

    Hope this helps, and good luck!

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