Stop comparing yourself to your competitors

Very often clients come to us and start the conversation by saying: “we want to build [insert-popular-product-name-here] but better”. In this blog we will discuss why comparing with your competitors is a common practice that will hold you back on your company's success.

It is easy to think that developing the digital product with ‘a few adjustments’ that differentiate us from competitors will lead us into success, but this main request without knowing it, is focusing on the wrong aspects. Your product offering will be an exact copy with a slight variation to what other companies are selling - this doesn't give any true value to consumers and it's not going to help grow your company and products in a meaningful way either.

Another reason this practice is so harmful is that your competitors may have been in this game for longer than your company and when it comes down to it - they probably have more meaningful data, a more robust database of clients and probably bigger pockets as well.

So, when it comes to differentiating your Digital Products to stand out, what's the best way to achieve it?

Innovation is what will make you stand out from the crowd. So instead of focusing on "how we can change this or that" - try asking yourself: how can innovation make our Digital Product unique? 

It's not all about creating a product that has no competition but instead a product that will be unique for its features, functionality and benefits. Make sure that your main focus is not about making something different but rather making sure differentiation is adding real value to your customers, and covering real needs that improve their experience and are more likely to create for them a stronger relationship with your product.

The success of a product also comes with "the right time",  which means  the product should be  available right when your customers or target audience need it. Make sure that your team and partners have established processes that will allow you to act quickly and on time, not only to make decisions but to finally execute and launch the first phase of your Digital Product. We see that no matter the size of the company, often they face bureaucracy, long and ineffective processes, and an endless search for perfection delaying the launch of products, letting competitors be ahead in the game. 

Once you have launched, innovation will come with the ability to listen and learn from your market as a key factor that will help you stay on top and keep growing. It will not only give your business a competitive advantage but it's also going to make sure that you're able to meet and cover the future needs of your customers which in return will create meaningful relationships with you. 

It's important to establish processes where innovation becomes part of the company’s culture and core values and becomes part of business strategy, not just for Digital Products but also in all areas where innovation can bring real value (not only the Tech/Development department).

The following are some key points to keep in mind when starting working on differentiation:

Visibility and reliable data is key at the beginning of any innovation process to address challenges and maximize opportunities. Discuss metrics with stakeholders from all levels of management in addition to getting input before going into any execution stage for your products.  Identifying and measuring the appropriate analytics and metrics (user adoption, engagement, activation, retention, etc.) will empower your team to make decisions based on real data and maximize the effectiveness of the plans implemented in your product’s evolution. 

Flexibility and scalable Architecture will allow you to speed up and grow with your Digital Product with no limits and be on top of changes in your customer buying patterns.

Cutting-edge Technology: innovation is not only about creating new products, the innovation process requires building up the infrastructure of your business on top of up to date Tech.

Agile Methodologies applied to the process will deliver more efficient innovation results. Remaining adaptable and responsive it’s of paramount importance in the ever changing digital landscape. Business and technical teams need to be able to quickly react to changes in technology and market spaces, and an Agile framework will support this initiative and empower teams to make timely decisions.

Leadership and Culture are key to any innovation process. Leaders should be able to see further down in potential innovation opportunities, make their teams understand what innovation means for them as individuals and for the business at large.

Shift in mindset is also required if you want your company to achieve success. There's no place for fear when it comes to proposing new ideas! Innovation requires a space where everyone can participate without being judged on first sight because there may not be an answer yet to certain questions but that doesn't mean they shouldn't keep asking them until they find one! Fostering innovation takes time but once established within your teams it will be much easier to maintain. 

Alignment across all teams/departments throughout the company at large can help everyone move faster toward common goals rather than working against each other which eventually is a common practice that slows everything down. 

A good Design System will help you maintain consistency throughout your Product Development Lifecycle while taking into consideration changes that may come up along the way. This also helps teams collaborate more effectively from start to finish without having two different visions. 

Being responsive allows companies to quickly adapt their Digital Products according to consumer behavior patterns or changing business needs in real time. It helps them be competitive by staying ahead of market trends.

Take risks or try new things if you want innovation to become a reality - if there's no space for innovation within your team then don't expect anything unique! 

And last but not least, align expectations with your clients and stakeholders about what innovation means to them, what they want and what needs haven’t been addressed and how their experience can improve significantly. 

Getting innovation right is a long-term process that you have to learn and embrace. This means not only getting the product out there but also ensuring your digital offering will be able to develop into something more meaningful over time with the help of data from real users' experiences.

If you are looking for a partner that will help you along the way, from the beginning of your Digital Product Ideation and Strategy, to Production, Design and Final Product send us a message, We help businesses discover what innovation really means and we would love to hear from you. Reach out today!

About the author

David has been working with us for 10 years, helping to give shape to many products and initiatives, and ensuring our Business Analysis team participates in exciting projects that empower users and clients alike.