(Part 2 of the ‘What I’ve Learnt in 10 Years of Running Sprint Education’ series. Read the previous lessons here: Lesson #1: Sack a problem customer!)
Lesson #2: Don’t waste time & energy on the competition!
In the 10 years since I launched Sprint Education with my brother Ben, we’ve had competitors plagiarise our terms and conditions, rip off our website, imitate our marketing emails, and even reproduce our quote form by pasting a different company logo on them.
Most business owners would find this frustrating, but Ben and I have always been of the opinion that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and that our customers are intelligent enough to see through any Sprint Education impersonators.
Read what sets us apart here > why us webpage
I actually take great comfort knowing that whilst our competitors are worrying about what we are currently doing, and are looking to copy and catch up with Sprint Education’s innovations, we are focusing on pushing the boundaries of edu-marketing to a whole new level.
This can’t be done by looking over our shoulder at the competition, that’s when industries become stagnated, and stuck offering customers sub-standard outdated services. Instead, I benchmark different sectors. This is how I get inspiration for future developments and ideas. I’ll look at how I can adapt and apply a principle to our business. I might be looking for an idea for a new service, or to influence a change in the pricing structure, or to understand technological advances regarding coding and software. Whatever it may be I know I won’t find answers or ideas by looking over my shoulder, and I would hazard a guess that the same could be said for you and your business’s sector as well.
All too often I’ll chat with a client who is reluctant to disclose anything in their marketing or on their website just in case a competitor reads it.
Only recently I had a large business order Campus with me, (Campus is our education data, marketing and sales software for education businesses), and in our discussions they couldn’t get their head around how we have put the walkthrough videos of Campus on our website. They asked if I was worried that our competition would watch them and copy them. I wasn’t!
For me it’s all about the numbers, why would I restrict 20,000 potential Campus users from having the opportunity to see the software in action on the off-chance that one competitor might watch the videos as well? The software took several years and hundreds of thousands of pounds for us to build and launch, it’s not something that can just be ripped off easily.
Another time, whilst working with an education resources supplier we sent an email out to Teachers on their behalf that required the teachers to complete a 10 step form process if they wanted to be able to see any prices on the client’s website. This was because our client was terrified that their competitors might see their prices. It resulted in not one single order because no teachers could be bothered to jump through hoops to see their pricing.
I’m not suggesting you ignore your sector or competitors altogether, but the lesson I’ve learnt is to not get sucked into an obsessive cycle of watching them so carefully. Yes the odd competitor might copy you but it just shows that they are struggling to come up with their own ways to innovate and push their own company forward. This is their weakness which you can use to your advantage by pushing on further ahead; they will then forever be playing catch up.
Finally, try not to sweat the small stuff; you should instead be investing that time and energy in moving your business further ahead of the rest. If you have educated your target audience about what makes your business the best option then trust that Teachers will see through the copy-cats.
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