There is a skewed philosophy in the marketing world today – that in order to beat your competition, you must know your competition inside and out. However, this philosophy tends to yield mediocrity, not innovation.
I keep running across phone manufacturers that are promoting their upcoming “iPhone killers.” And with each one, I have the same reaction: “really?!” (in a slightly skeptical and sarcastic tone).
The problem with these new phones is that the manufacturers are focusing too much on the competition. It is apparent that they began the initiative by analyzing everything about the iPhone and then building a device that mimics it, but with more features.
In contrast, I imagine the development of the iPhone was much different, and it probably started with one question: how can we make the best phone in the world? Sure, I bet they studied other devices, but probably for insight on what they did not want to do as opposed to stealing features.
These are two entirely different mindsets. One says, “How innovative can we be?” and the other says, “How can we beat product X?” If you practice the first philosophy, you are really limitless in what you can produce, and you customers will respond positively. However, the second philosophy can only position you in relation to whatever product you are trying to beat. At the end of the day, you just look like a copycat.
Now, is it possible for a company to produce an “iPhone killer?” Sure it is. But it will happen by innovating, not trying to mimic the iPhone.
Are you paying too much attention to your competition, or are you simply producing the best work possible with excellence? Put some blinders on and do what you do best.