“If Our Competitors Are Doing it, It Must Be Working.”

That’s what a former boss said to me, more than once, when I was a young brand manager. It was her way of justifying thoughtless, copycat strategy.

Besides raising some serious concerns about my own career path, this kind of thinking destroys brand growth. Here are some alternative statements that are more true:

“If our competitors are doing it, it might be working.”

“If our competitors are doing it, it might not be working.”

“If our competitors are not doing it, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for us.”

“If our competitors are doing it, and we have evidence that it is working, that is not sufficient reason for us to do it too.”

Your competitors are making mistakes. I know this because the biggest brands in the world make mistakes. Your most successful competitors make fewer mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they’re infallible.

More importantly: You can’t mimic your way to market leadership. Keep an eye on your competitors. But know that the biggest wins almost always mean zigging where others zag. Your objectives, your ideas, your way of serving the market – these have to be uniquely your own. And a unique mix of brand experiences, people, processes and culture is nearly impossible to replicate.

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2012 – Matthew Fenton.  All Rights Reserved.  You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.

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2 Replies to ““If Our Competitors Are Doing it, It Must Be Working.””

  1. Here’s another good one – “it can’t hurt.” Actually, ‘it’ can and often does!

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