A nice post on The Sales Blog called Respect, Not Fear might make you think about how you’ve come to view your competitors. I talk to so many companies where competitors are viewed with contempt and yet – simultaneously – seen as some sort of infallible sales and marketing machine which must be matched at all costs. The exhibition industry propped itself up for years on the back of this. Get one of a select few companies to take a stand, and all their competitors would flock to book stands too, on the basis that the one company which had signed up knew something they didn’t.
Many years ago, I asked a marketing manager why she seemed so concerned about matching all the initiatives taken by one particular competitor. I pointed out that I knew the marketing director there, and he’d never struck me as being, er, particularly go-ahead. To my surprise, she replied: “I know, I talk to him regularly at our trade association meetings. You’re being rather kind with that description, in my opinion.” So why did she track what he was up to so closely? Fear. Don’t get sucked into it.