Yesterday's post had a comment from a good friend and great photographer in Chicago. Here's what Sherry A. wrote:
"What do you really think about "knowing everything about your competitors"? Honestly I try very hard not to look into what they are doing. I know what I need to be successful and do not want to fall into the pricing trap. Meaning they are charging X amount so maybe I should match that etc. 10 years in the business and still find confusion on this subject. Just recently I have tried not to look at other companies all together. To try to keep my complete focus on my own. What are your true thoughts there."
Sherry's questions deserves a better answer than what I can fill in a comment box, so here goes...
First, Sherry's an outstanding photographer and has made it a point to be one of the best. She's attended program after program to make sure she's cutting edge and always raising the bar on her skill set. Her comment is completely appropriate, but here's a better explanation of my thoughts behind the tip from Score.
I understand how many of you want to stay focused on your own business and work, but you need to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, because it's the best way to stay focused on what you need to do. For example, my good buddy Terry Clark wrote to me once...
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
That means you've got to pay attention to what's hot and what's not with your target audience. You need to pay attention to what your competitors DON'T do and then come up with your own creative spins.
Following the pricing of a competitor's products isn't the issue - it's how they're establishing the value for what they're doing and then you need to find a way to make yourself stronger. It's not about a pricing war, but a value war. It might not be any more complicated than developing stronger marketing, a more personal blog or looking for ways to be more involved in the community.
This is also where I'm convinced your blog can come into play. Your website is about what you sell, but a good blog is about what's in your heart. A blog with support for the community can go a long way and elevate your image, no matter what the competition might be doing.
I was at Polaroid when they filed a suit, which they later won, against Kodak for patent violations regarding instant photography. However, it wasn't all bad - having another instant film product in the market created more awareness for instant photography. I know everybody thinks they'd be so much better off if they were the only photographer in town, but a few good competitors can elevate the entire community's opinion of imaging.
Bruce Berg has a guest post up today and it links to one he published last summer. He's been involved in a program that's thirty years old, a children's photography contest during the first quarter each year. There are three competing studios involved. Together they've created awareness for a concept, which in turn has brought in more revenue for each of them.
Keeping tabs on your competitors is really about knowing your market. I found a comment that Bill Gates is credited with that seems like a good way to close...
"Competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive. Whether it's Google or Apple or free software, we've got some fantastic competitors and it keeps us on our toes."
Photo Credit: © microworks - Fotolia.com
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