Surveillance of competitors: yes or no?
Competition is one of the key sources of stress for any entrepreneur. Things can go as far as paranoia and total surveillance of every step of the “enemies”: new functionality, another partnership or an article published. There is a surreal feeling that you are in a besieged castle, which is about to be burned and razed to the ground. Common situation? How do you act in this case? And is there anything worth doing?
Changing Attitudes Toward Competition
The story of Josh Pigford, the founder of Baremetrics analytics service, is interesting. In 2008, he developed an advertising platform. Users posted and managed advertising campaigns, and Josh received commissions. However, a week later, Google launched Ad Manager, which solved the same problems as the Josh service. What did the entrepreneur do? He sold a startup and began to move on. The very idea of competing with Google had a depressing effect on him.
In 2011, Josh developed a survey service. If the competition was initially zero in the niche of advertising platforms, thousands of competitors literally crowded here. However, this time he was not afraid.
What has changed in three years? There was an understanding that competition means nothing. The entrepreneur went even further - offered to completely ignore competitors. Too categorical? Yes, but the reverse is far more dangerous.
What happens when you follow your competitors?
Acquiring the habit of tracking competitors is extremely easy. You read other people's blogs to learn about new offers, add site names to Google Alerts, follow them on social networks - don't miss a single trifle.
One misfortune: this behavior constantly leaves you one step behind . From now on, you are not a steam locomotive, but the last car.
You created the product because you knew a simple and elegant solution to the problem. Customers also believed this and came to you. When you try to copy the functionality of a competitor service, you stop solving the problems of your users. Instead, fight over the problems of your competitor’s customers. And hardly do it at the proper level.
Do not work for other customers. Of course, you will have common features with competitors, but determine the time and method of innovation solely on the basis of the needs of your customers.
When to look for competitors?
The sense to study competitors appears only in one case: solvent customers go to them, and this process acquires a regular character.
It is important to interview "refuseniks" in order to understand the reason for leaving and get to the bottom of the advantages of competitors. However, approach this issue carefully. Do not introduce new functionality to save a couple of customers. Such a solution will provide short-term benefits, but in the long run you will get a negative result - a “bloated” and poorly managed product.
The key to success: find common reasons that encourage users to leave, and understand how to improve the service you offer.
Belief in your own product and its benefits helps to focus on the main thing. Customers only benefit from this.
Service for 5+ can not be done right away - the process lasts for years. And the decisions made at the beginning will certainly differ from those that you stop after two or three years.
Competitors come and go. The longer you stay in business, the more different your chosen paths are. If your goal is long-term, focus on resolving customer problems and forget about the rest.