Why I think monitoring the competition is a complete waste of time

Competitive Analysis - Bill Cushard

I don’t spend any time monitoring competitors. Most people think I should. 

"Do competitive analysis,” they say.

"Be ready for questions from prospects and customers like, 'How do you compare with your competition?’ and  'How do you monitor and stay up-to-date with what your competition is doing?’ they say.”

“What do you mean you don’t have battle cards?"

I believe that every moment spent monitoring competition is time not spent improving how we help existing customers. 


In other words, I think it's a waste of precious time.

I have been told numerous times that I am wrong about this. And that if we don't do competitive analysis we could lose out to the competition and fall behind.

Get disrupted.

But to me, spending 8-16 hours per week combing competitors' websites and signing up for their ebooks and attending their webinars, is the perfect way to take my eye’s off my customers’ jobs to be done, gains, and pains and get disrupted. 

So that’s what I believe. 

The problem is, when I get into these discussions, the arguments for monitoring competitors are stronger than mine. The only reply I have is, “I just seems like a waste of time. Shouldn’t I spend that time talking to customers and learning more about them and trying to just plain help them?”

I never win these arguments. I just wait until the discussion is over and go back to my office and think about my customers. 

I am not saying I am perfect about delivering everything my customers want or understanding them perfectly. Far from it. It’s a process. But it is my first thought. I hardly ever give my competition a second thought. 

I just have not spend time thinking about why I don’t. I just believe thinking about customers is a better use of time, I guess. 

Then I (coincidentally) re-read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, and read this in the last chapter: 

What if the next time when someone asks, “Who’s your competition?” 

We replied, “No idea.” 

What if the next time someone pushes, “Well, what makes you better than your competition?” 

We replied, “We’re not better than them in all cases.” 

And what if the next time someone asks, “Well, why should I do business with you then?” 

We answer with confidence, “Because the work we’re doing now is better than the work we were doing six months ago. And the work we'll be doing six months from now will be better than the work we’re doing today. Because we wake up every day with a sense of WHY we come to work? We come to work to inspire people to do the things that inspire them. Are we better than our competition? If you believe what we believe and you believe that the things we do can help you, then we’re better. If you don’t believe what we believe and you don’t believe the things we can do will help you, then we’re not better. Our goal is to find customers who believe what we believe and work together so that we can all succeed. We’re looking for people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in pursuit of the same goal. We’re not interested in sitting across the table rom each other in pursuit of a sweeter deal. And here are the things we’re doing to advance our cause.”

That is exactly what I believe. 

And now I have a better answer. 

So, the next you ask me how we compare to our competition, you know what my response will be. 

I am not in this to beat the competition. I am not playing against the Dallas Cowboys. I am playing for my customers. 

And NO. I am not going to hire a “manager of competitive analysis."