When I announced that I was having lunch with the marketing director at [insert name of competitor here], one of our partners who just happened to be passing through the lobby said, “What? You are having lunch with who?” I smiled and said, “Yes, we have lunch regularly.”
He looked at me with disbelief. I told him that we are “friendly competitors.” I then went on to tell him that competition is always going to be present in the marketplace. How we look at our competition will determine how well we do in the marketplace. After all, with the consolidation activity and the regular occurrence of mergers and acquisitions, yesterday’s competitor just might be tomorrow’s boss.
Knowing your competition goes beyond seeing what kind of ads they run and what they do at trade shows. I don’t have to meet them to know that stuff. To truly understand the differences your firm brings to the table, you have to know first hand what it’s like to be in your competitions’ offices. As a marketer, simply knowing my competition helps me better market my firm.
And, as creatives in an accounting environment, it helps to get the old creativity cranking when I meet with my marketing colleagues. We, as professionals, have developed a way to meet regularly and discuss issues about our careers and our roles in an accounting firm without giving away the family “jewels.” I encourage you to personally get to know your competitors. You’ll be a better marketer for doing it.