Marketing in a ‘Competitor-driven’ company

Following on from my previous post How is your company ‘driven’? , this post looks at what it means to be a ‘competitor-driven’ company and how Marketing functions in this type of company culture.

Competitor-driven companies generally identify a market opportunity for a copycat or ‘me-too’ product or service. The value proposition is usually to offer a cheaper alternative, or greater availability, or some tweaks to the design, features or functions to make their product or service an appealing competitive alternative. The market leader usually holds a dominate market share with a number of competitor-driven companies battling for what is usually single digit or low double-digit market share each.

The common marketing approach for competitor-driven companies seems to be mostly tactical, focusing on competitive comparisons, cheaper price promotions, higher availability through mass-market channels, product comparisons in trade publications, comparative ‘shoot-out’ coverage, and pursuing favorable exposure from the myriad of awards, recognitions, seals of approvals and other endorsements. While these products or services are mostly undifferentiated in the minds of target customers, marketing must come up with some differentiated value propositions to gain prospect and customer mindshare.

If applicable, a competitor-driven differentiator that works in some markets is to offer an industry standards-based product versus proprietary technology products. The beauty about standards is there are so many to choose from. :)

A more strategic marketing approach would be to research and identify niche market segments or adjacent markets where competitive products may have minimal presence or little traction. These niche markets could be geographic, vertical industry, demographic, psychographic, professional, trade, persona, or one or more of many other market segmentation dimensions marketers regularly use. Strategically this could be a great approach – building market share and credibility in niche or adjacent markets. This strategy moves the approach from undifferentiated to differentiated marketing.

“If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete” - Jack Welch

IMO, a mistake many competitor-driven companies make is trying to directly compete with the market leader(s). That’s tough territory. If you look at typical market share breakdowns, it may be strategically better to first directly compete with other smaller players and build up a solid position in the top 5 or better before putting resources into competing with the market leader(s).

Do you work in a competitor-driven company – what’s your marketing approach?
(use the comment link below to share your thoughts on this topic)

Next post, we’ll look at marketing in a sales-driven company.
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