Psychologists have found out that in athletic competition, people who win bronze medals look happier than athletes who win silver medals.
As soon as someone achieves great results, they strive to beat the results of others.
The truth is that we don’t want to be better than we were yesterday, we want to be better than someone else. To be honest, we want to be the best.
The same applies to content marketing. You may see satisfactory results in analytics and get great feedback from your audience, but once you hear the news about your competitor’s success, you forget about your own achievements.
In this article, we will discuss how the desire to be the best can destroy your content marketing strategy.
Symptoms That Indicate You’re Too Concerned about Rivalry
Keeping an eye on competitors is a usual practice of many marketers.
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These marketers study their competitors’ content, look through their social media pages, read the news where their competitors’ names are mentioned, and so on. Using this approach, they monitor the market to follow trends and take the lead.
If all these actions only take a small amount of time, and your strategy is still a priority for you, then there`s nothing to worry about.
However, sometimes a simple marketing interest can grow into something more manic. It usually happens when marketers aren’t sure about their actual strategy.
They will feel like their competitor is performing better and start following every step they take. As a result, they may lose their own identity.
There are two situations that illustrate an unhealthy interest and a frenetic obsession.
Situation №1. You wake up every day with only one goal: to spend the day being so successful that, by the end of the day, competitors will want to close the curtains, crawl in bed and cry themselves to sleep because of your impeccable professionalism.
Situation №2. You scrutinize your rival’s content, observing what they’ve accomplished while cringing and feeling miserable.
Both of these situations are not beneficial, as they steal your precious time and limited energy.
Let’s figure out what other dangers exist concerning an obsession with competitors.
Why Paying Too Much Attention to Your Competitors Will Lead to Nothing Good
By focusing on a competitor, you are not focusing on your problems
As a content marketer, you may have plenty of challenges such as struggling with creating the right kind of content, improving customer satisfaction, or defining KPIs.
So may your competitors. As soon as you begin to delve into their problems, you may lose the focus of yours and stop understanding what your customers expect from you.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson writes in an HBR article:
“Focusing on competitive products and companies often leads to ‘me-too’ products, which purport to compete with or iterate on something that customers might not have liked much in the first place.”
Duplicating your competitor’s efforts does not give you a competitive advantage
A competitive advantage helps you to outperform and stand out from the crowd. If your product is just like your competitor’s, what will prevent your clients from leaving you and switching to them?
Let’s consider the example of Dropbox`s competitive advantage.
Throughout the years it stumbled upon many competitors, but none of them were able to compete with Dropbox`s simplicity and availability on multiple platforms. So, simplicity and usability are its competitive advantages.
As Dropbox investor Hadi Partovi outlines on Quora, Dropbox is distinct from Google, Apple, and Microsoft in its ability to provide operating system interoperability.
Partovi also states modern customers understand the risks of having all of their data hosted on one restrictive ecosystem and see the value in Dropbox’s agnostic platform.
Not having enough information about a current competitor`s situation may lead you to the wrong conclusions
Imagine that your competitor has the amount of customers that you can only dream about. It makes you think that their strategy is more effective and attractive than yours, and you become envious.
In fact, there’s no way to be sure if those customers are happy with the experience they are receiving, while your smaller number of customers may be much more satisfied.
As you may have concluded, focusing too much on the competition can deprive you of a fresh pair of eyes on your own strategy. It may also lead to duplicating your competitor`s actions, which is fruitless or even dangerous for your content, as copying them will never give you a competitive advantage.
How to Deal with Competitors
From the previous abstract, I hope you understood that an obsession with competitors is not just a destructive feeling, it is a danger for your business. So, how do you deal with them?
Respect your competitors
Every company has its advantages and disadvantages; your competitors are not an exception. Rather than being afraid of or belittling them, respect them for what they have achieved. They give you an opportunity to learn from their mistakes rather than making them yourself.
It does not mean you’re surrendering to them. It means you’re being honest and giving credit for other people’s strengths by listening, learning and applauding their work.
Jason Crawford writes,
“Don’t be afraid to praise them for what they do right. Make sure you know what you do better and where you are uniquely positioned to create differentiated value. Find your confidence in that, rather than in putting down competitors.”
Stop stealing content ideas from your competitors
Google does not encourage plagiarism; it conversely rewards uniqueness. Search engines value high-quality content that provides users with appropriate answers to their search queries.
I presume the message is clear now—create unique content that adds value and rely on your own vision of your company`s future.
Avoid plagiarism by using your own words to describe your thoughts. When researching, read multiple authoritative sources. Use your own reasoning, and don`t be afraid to explain things the way you understand them.
When creating content, think about your customers, their future experience, and their needs. This way you will produce customer-centric content, the advantages of which I will cover a little bit later.
Focus on customers
Today customers are the most exhaustive source of information for businesses. Their preferences and wishes are a reference point for companies, while their dissatisfaction is a professional threat, as a discontent audience is likely to leave and switch to competitors.
According to research conducted by Forrester, a third of online adults want to find new and engaging experiences. They also admitted that they are ready to change brands to find them.
The customer is like a woman—she talks about things she doesn’t like all the time. Although, if you are too busy to listen and make her feel satisfied, do not be surprised if she leaves you for someone else.
If you want to win the battle against your competitors, it will be more fruitful not to compete, and instead, listen to what your customers really want and meet their expectations.
J Cornelius, the president and founder of Nine Labs, rightly observed,
“At the end of the day, it’s your customers who have the best idea of what is good and bad about your services; it’s your customers who buy your products; and for better or worse, it’s your customers who keep you in business.”
In fact, when sharing their stories, customers teach you how to make your content better. Now it is up to you—either listen to them or ignore them.
What Content Do You Need to Create to Outperform the Competition
If you grasped my idea about customer obsession, I guess you’re now wondering how to apply it toward business content. The answer is: to create customer-centric content.
It is the content that prioritizes the needs of customers over the company’s needs (selling, for example).
Research by Deloitte found that,
“Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not focused on the customer.”
These statistics may make you think: can this type of content make my company more profitable as well?
Yes, it can. For that, let me tell you about some intrinsic features of customer-centric content.
Feature #1 Your content is all about unique value
To be valuable, content should solve the customer’s pain points. To reach these goals, you have to know whom you are talking to, what questions they have, and what their specific needs are.
For example, if your customers need to know where they can list their product and what review websites or directories are suitable for them, give them the answer.
Feature #2 Your content is presented in an entertaining and pleasing way
You may have created valuable and useful content, but if it lacks high-quality visual elements such as infographics, pictures, and videos, and the text is not structured and is written in a trivial and boring manner, your customers are likely to run away.
From time immemorial people have wanted bread and circuses. Little seems to have changed, and today, they still want to be entertained. For example, millennials expect brands to develop content for them, with 80% wanting to be directly entertained through content marketing.
Use your brilliant sense of humor when talking about serious topics to make your customer feel connected to you, not as a “company,” but as a “group of people just like me”—this can be essential in building trust.
I am not suggesting that you start telling anecdotes and jokes in all of your content. You can add relevant, funny pics and gifs, and use memes and videos. Every piece of content that speaks in your customer`s language is a great one.
Feature #3 You are responsive to customer feedback about your content
Most people divide comments into negative and positive, while I would say that feedback can only be constructive or nonconstructive.
We used to consider negative comments as something that we should struggle with. In fact, a negative comment containing constructive criticism is more precious than a positive one that says something common and has nothing to do with the product.
In fact, 92% of respondents agreed that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.
Responding to thoughtful comments, whether they are critical or flattering, makes sense as it allows you to establish a connection between you and your audience.
80 percent of customer service queries are ignored on social media. In fact, all these people lost their chance to engage with their customers.
Do not follow this example, and consider feedback from your audience as a sign that people care.
Reply to comments and mentions in social media as soon as possible. Your quick response gives them a feeling of importance, which is crucial for future interactions.
To personalize your comments, call customers by their first name and get to the bottom of their problems.
According to statistics, 66% of people say they are likely to switch brands if they feel like they’ve been treated like a number instead of an individual.
Spying on your competitors is not just energy-consuming and tedious, it’s also dangerous for your content strategy (and for business in general). It causes you focus on someone else’s strategy and lose the clear understanding of yours.
Copying the competition is also disadvantageous, as it may lead to customer dissatisfaction and a decline in Google ranking.
To succeed in content marketing, make it customer-centric. It means that your content needs to be unique, entertaining and valuable. The latter means solving the customer’s pain points. Understanding customer problems are the key to making your content message stand out.
How do you deal with your competition? Share your experience with us in the comment section.