Does your brand make use of “competitive intelligence”? You know, it’s the information about what the competition is doing. For some companies the intelligence gathering process is very elaborate, often including building files, reports, databases or maybe even a department or division devoted to tracking the competition. This is all good and fine, but there’s a danger therein.
It is generally good to have an awareness of what the competition is up to. We certainly don’t want to operate with blinders on. But in the end, being preoccupied with what competitors are doing can be a significant distraction. The time and cost of information gathering can be significant. Even worse, it could lead to strategic missteps and poor decision making if we put too much credence into the information gathered. It shifts the focus away from where it should be, which is on our business.
Following other companies often results in “me too” strategies. This ultimately leads to a follower market position. For those companies aspiring to be market leaders, more competitive intelligence isn’t the answer. Instead, the focus should be on innovation.
Innovation is the foundation of a winning brand
We live in a society that loves new things. Loved even more so are innovations that make our lives easier. The brands that consistently innovate are the leaders. Apple is the perfect example when it comes to innovation, and it’s paid off for them. The company currently has a 93 percent share of the tablet market. It’s impressive to say the least. On the other hand, replicating what another company has already produced is what followers do.
Innovation drives customer loyalty
Companies that meet customer needs in new and unexpected ways score points. When we innovate for our customers, it’s as if we have done something specifically for the individual. It makes a customer feel appreciated and valued. These types of innovations are not quickly forgotten, and make it difficult for a customer to switch to a competitor.
Innovation drives customer acquisition
Innovative marketing gets attention, creates emotion and promotes action. It hasn’t been seen before and creates curiosity. Pushing the envelope, at least to a point, is good. It’s innovation in marketing that stands out and helps people take that first step of getting to know your company.
There’s no doubt innovation is risky. There could be failure along the way. That possibility scares many companies. It’s safer to watch other companies, follow them and try to make things better. To the risk takers however go the rewards. Innovators find themselves in first more often than not.
What do you think? Which companies have you seen that are committed to innovation?
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.