Learning from competition

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, writes on the correct way to deal with competition:

Reacting well to competition requires critical analysis of your own product and its shortcomings, and a complete, open-minded understanding of why people might choose your competitors.

They’re not fanboys. They’re not brainwashed by “marketing”. Your competitors’ customers aren’t passing on your product because they’re stupid or irrational.

They’re choosing your competitors for good reasons, and denying the existence of such good reasons will only ensure that your product never overcomes them.

CompetitionHe goes on to discuss why Microsoft’s recent reaction to the threat of iOS is more constructive than Google’s.

It’s a fascinating reflection, and bears great relevance to the way in which we see some Collaboration and Social Business vendors react.

Customers are not irrational, users are not stupid. If you want them to choose to buy your solution, or even more importantly, to desire to use it, you had better go focus your attention and resources on making yours significantly better than the opposition, not on dissing the opposition or those that buy or use their products!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!

  • Adam Brown

     I see this all the time Stuart. Poor or average sales people bag out the competitor without any real knowledge of their strengths or weaknesses. Good sales people study their competition, identify their real strengths and are even complimentary of them, all the while high lighting the strengths that their solutions have over and above that of the competitors.

    • Thanks Adam, you’re right.  It’s about listening and analysing, not responding in an emotional manner or from a position of ignorance.