Too many business owners spend a lot of time focusing on their competition. They analyze what their competitors are doing, study every conference exhibit they have, and analyze every tweet. They think they need to go head-to-head to go after the competition.

But that’s not the case. In fact, there are risks to focusing too much on the competition.

What works better

Personally, I think this head-to-head idea comes from marketing being portrayed as some kind of blood sport. Well, that and the fact that launching a business is nerve-wracking. It can feel empowering to dive into competitor research.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things.

I take a different tack. My approach to marketing is not to go aggressively against your competition. Rather, I believe in going aggressively towards your customers.

That means we research your competition and position you effectively against them. Then, we use that information to connect with your customers. After that, we only need to take note when your competition makes a major change in direction.

Here’s why this works

You are playing to your own strengths. The key to good positioning is understanding what makes your company strong. Once you know that, you stick with it. You are making the game play by your rules.

You stop wasting time worrying about the competition. I once worked with a sales rep who made himself a nervous wreck about the competition. At every trade show, he tried to get intel on his competitors. In reality, though, this amounted to little more than gossip. And it took the bulk of his focus away from the people coming to his booth.

You focus on your ideal customer. Just because you provide the same service as another company does not mean you are going after the same customers. Your ideal customer is likely different from that of your competition. Your time is better spent focusing on learning to recognize the difference.

How you can apply it

The first thing is to think about what makes you different. Think about what problem you are trying to solve and the way you go about solving it. Start with the basics – what is it that you are selling? What service are you providing? Then go a bit deeper. Ask, why do people want it? And above all, what are you offering that makes your customers prefer you?

Then, take that information and couple it with your target audience. Are you aiming for a smaller – or bigger – health system than your competitor? Are you targeting nurses while they are talking with physicians? Are you focusing on cardiology when your competition is aiming for internal medicine?

Finally, throw in any other differentiating factor you have. Are you physician-owned? Did the idea come to you because of your own patient experience?

Combine all this together and you will find the best way to position your company. To fight your competition, you just keep doubling down on that.

In other words, you be you. Because they cannot copy that.