“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.