Do you know What Sets You Apart From Your Competition? In this article Business coach and marketing mentor Ilise Benun discusses you and your competition.
The only way to effectively answer that question is to know who the competition is. But so many designers have no idea.
When you do happen upon a competitor’s web site, it can be depressing. From the look of things, business is booming! That tends to kick off an inner monologue that goes something like this: “Look at all those clients! How did they get those clients? Their portfolio is full of new work and I barely have anything new to show. They obviously have more and better clients than I do. They must be doing better than I am. I’m a loser.”
Before you go too far, please stop yourself from falling into the “comparison trap.”
Remember, all you can see is their marketing! You don’t know the reality. Their fancy projects may have been done with no budget! Or their big name clients may have been unbearable to work with.
You have no idea. Comparing yourself to others is a trap! It’s a total distraction from working on growing your business to attract the clients you really want.
I talk to a lot of creatives and I can tell you that the picture is rarely as rosy as it looks.
So while you do indeed need to know who your competitors are and what they’re doing, you also have to be strong enough not to let it discourage you. That’s a fine line to walk, for sure.
Sometimes, even if you have no clear idea who the competition is, you know they’re out there because someone else is getting the work — not you! In fact, it could be a piece of software or a robot!
That means you really have to be on your toes to stay a few steps ahead which, again, is only possible if you know who (or what) you’re competing against.
So who is your competition?
Here are just 3 of the many different ways to identify the competition:
- Your competition is with any other local designer or firm. The most obvious competitors are other designers you know, especially the local ones. They may be your colleagues and sometimes even your friends. But what about local designers undercutting your prices and whose work you consider to be inferior to yours? Does that make them more competitive, or less? Are bigger local agencies too big to be your competition? Can your prospects tell the difference in quality amongst any of these options? Design is very subjective, so probably not.
- Your competition is another designer or firm in the same niche. Having a niche makes it super simple to spot the competition. They’re the ones who are also members of the trade association. They’re the ones who are speaking at the association’s events and writing on their blog. They’re the ones also lurking in the association’s online forum. And they’re the ones who position themselves squarely in that niche on the homepage of their web site, no matter where they’re geographically located.
- Your competition is your client’s paralysis. If you never hear back from a prospect, you may assume a competitor got the project. But often, the project is shelved, postponed or put on the back burner. That’s what you’re competing against — the option of doing nothing. That’s a reality more often than not.
In short, your real competition is everyone and anyone (or anything) else your client is considering to achieve their goal. That may include the local designers you are aware of, but it may not. It may include freelancers on the other side of the world who are willing to work for almost nothing. It may include the proverbial “client’s nephew.”
To find out who you’re competing against, you have to know what other options your client has — and it may be different for each client. That’s why the best way to find out is to ask — they just might tell you.
Because ignorance may be bliss, but not when it comes to competition. It’s better to know than to pretend you have no competition.
Plus, instead of being demoralized by the competition, you can use them to inspire and motivate you. You can learn from them and use what you learn to grow your business, to innovate so you can always be a couple steps ahead of them.
Check out other articles from Ilise
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Ilise Benun is the founder of Marketing-Mentor.com, the go-to online resource for creative professionals who want better projects with bigger budgets, through which she offers business coaching to small groups and 1:1. She is also a national speaker and author of 7 books, including “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money,” and 3 online courses via CreativeLive — all tailored to the needs of creative professionals. Since 2008, she has hosted the Marketing Mentor Podcast and her newest project is her role as “Business Coach” for the Savannah College of Art & Design.